The MPs Privileges Bill has been today sent back to committee for review and amendment.
Out of 67 MPs present in the Majlis today, 40 of them voted in favor of sending it to the committee for amendment.
DRP MPs did not vote to send the bill to the committee, according to Haveeru, while there were two MPs who did not vote on the issue. Some DRP members did speak out during the session to call for amendments to the bill.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Alhan Fahmy, who previously voted in favour of the bill, said during today’s parliamentary sitting that the privileges for MPs were very clearly stated in article 90 of the Maldives constitution. He called on fellow members to send the bill to committee for amendment.
”In all the other countries, MPs do have some privileges,” said Alhan. ”In Article 127 of the constitution the procedures of how a MP should be arrested on criminal charges is mentioned.”
DRP MP for Naifaru, Ahmed Mohamed also suggested the bill should be sent to a committee for amendment.
”This bill was passed by the vote of MDP MPs, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and Independent MPs, now there is no reason that either should criticise the other,” said Mohamed.
Mohamed said he would not approve article 4[c] of the MPs privilege bill, which “states that MPs cannot be arrested while they are on the way to the parliament, inside the parliament or while they are on the way back from the parliament, even if they are charged on a criminal case,” said Mohamed.
”A MP might commit murder while on their way to parliament, but he can’t be arrested.”
PA MP for the Maavashu area, Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakuru, also suggested that the bill should be sent for a committee for amendment.
”If this bill does not get passed I am fine, and if it gets passed also I am fine,” he said.
On January 17 President vetoed the controversial privileges bill, which would have seen MPs earning salary and benefits on a level with developed countries such as Sweden, as well as excusing them from paying import duties on automobiles and giving them immunity from prosecution.
The President made the decision following legal council from the Attorney General, Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, as well as consultation with the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).
The bill, which was submitted by Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed, was passed with 44 to 21 in favour, and 10 abstentions, and would have seen MPs earning thousands of dollars more in salary and allowances than MPs in countries such as France, India and Italy.
The matter has triggered lively demonstrations outside parliament since it was first announced, while a group of “concerned citizens” petitioned the President claiming that not only was the salary increase excessive, but that elements within it gave MPs extrajudicial and unconstitutional privileges. The bill was about less about state-building and more about status, the petitioners claimed.