Jumhoree Party Presidential Candidate and MP Gasim Ibrahim has submitted a letter to Parliament accepting the loss of his seat on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), after a number of practising lawyers questioned the legality of him remaining on the commission.
Citing Article 10 (a.iv) of the JSC Act, which states that a member of the commission will automatically lose his seat in the instance that they “file to contest in an election for any political position under the constitution of the Maldives”, the lawyers claimed that Gasim could not remain in the judicial watchdog as he is contesting in the upcoming September 7 presidential elections.
Stating that Parliament should now declare Gasim’s seat on the JSC to be vacant, lawyer Ali Hussain told local media, “it is the parliament that needs to do so, as according to law, the institution that appoints a person to the commission that can remove him from the post. Gasim’s argument in his defence may be that even currently he is in an elected position. However, this time he is not contesting as an MP. The problem may not have risen if he was contesting as an MP, but it persists since he is running for presidency.”
At a press conference held Thursday (July 25), Gasim stated that he had attended a commission meeting on Monday (July 22) after having filed for presidential election candidacy, adding that he had done so only because the JSC had not yet come to a decision on the matter of him contesting in the elections.
Although Gasim has accepted the loss of his seat on Thursday after the issue was raised by lawyers, at a press conference held on July 14 – prior to filing his candidacy at the Elections Commission – Gasim stated that his seat at the JSC cannot be questioned even though he is contesting in the elections and that he would not resign from the post.
Speaker’s duty to inform Gasim: Independent MP Nasheed
Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee Chair, independent MP Mohamed Nasheed, has also confirmed that Gasim cannot continue sitting in the JSC.
At a committee meeting held on Thursday, Nasheed stated that informing Gasim of the loss of his seat is the duty of Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, and not of the committee itself.
All attending members at the meeting unanimously agreed that the presidential candidate will lose his seat in the judicial watchdog as per Article 10 (a iv) of the JSC Act.
Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid and MP Mohamed Nasheed were not responding to calls at the time of press. Gasim Ibrahim’s phone was switched off.