Parliament tables no-confidence motion against Defence Minister in defiance of Supreme Court injunction

Parliament announced today that a no-confidence motion filed against Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim has been tabled despite a Supreme Court injunction ordering parliament to halt pending no-confidence votes.

The People’s Majlis secretariat revealed that Defence Minister Nazim has been given the required 14-day notice and his ministry also duly informed by Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

Article 101(a) of the constitution states, “At least fourteen days notice of the debate in the People’s Majlis concerning a motion under article (a) shall be given to the concerned member of the cabinet, and he shall have the right to defend himself in the sittings of the People’s Majlis, both orally and in writing.”

The move comes in apparent defiance of an injunction or stay order issued by the Supreme Court to halt conducting no-confidence votes through secret ballot, pending a ruling by the apex court on the constitutionality of the secret vote.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid and Parliament’s Counsellor General Fathimath Filza were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

The injunction (Dhivehi) was issued in a case filed by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) council member and lawyer of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim ‘Wadde’.

Waheed contended that secret votes were unlawful as article 85 of the constitution states that the People’s Majlis or any of its committees “may decide to exclude the public and the press from all or any part of the proceedings if there is a compelling need to do so in the interests of public order or national security.”

Waheed requested the Supreme Court specify the constitutional measure to determine a two-third majority of parliament – required to impeach the president – and to declare that the Majlis decision to approve a secret ballot was unconstitutional.

On December 3, parliament voted 41-34 to approve amendments to the parliamentary rules of procedure to conduct no-confidence votes to impeach the President and remove cabinet members through secret ballot.

MPs of the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) joined the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to vote the amendment through.

The no-confidence motion against Defence Minister Nazim was submitted by the MDP earlier this month on the grounds that he misused his authority as acting Transport Minister by using the military to influence termination of commercial contracts.

The MDP has also submitted a no-confidence motion to impeach President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

The no-confidence motion against Nazim was filed with the signatures of 17 MPs, according to the Majlis secretariat.

Under article 101(a), “A motion expressing want of confidence in a member of the Cabinet may be moved in the People’s Majlis, under the hand of at least ten members, specifying the reasons.”

“Challenging separation of powers”

In a separate ruling, the Supreme Court also issued an injunction ordering parliament not to appoint a new member to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) pending a ruling on the legality of parliament’s dismissal of the CSC’s former chair, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan.

Fahmy had filed a case contesting the legality of his removal from the independent institution on November 20 on the grounds that he had allegedly sexual harassed a female employee.

“What is at stake is the supremacy of the parliament as the representative of the people. By its actions, the Supreme Court is challenging the separation of powers that underpins the constitutional basis of governance,” MDP MP Eva Abdulla told Minivan News yesterday.

In its stay orders, the Supreme Court referred to article 144(b) of the constitution, which states: “When deciding a constitutional matter within its jurisdiction, a court may in connection with a declaration pursuant to the article make any order that is just and equitable, including an […] suspending the declaration of invalidity (of a statute, regulation or action due to inconsistency with the Constitution) for any period and on any conditions, to allow the competent authority to correct the defect.”

Kutti NasheedMeanwhile, Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi South, Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, contended in his blog yesterday (December 12) that the Supreme Court did not have the legal or constitutional authority to issue the injunctive orders against parliament.

Moreover, the Supreme Court “does not have the power to even accept those cases,” he wrote.

Article 88(b) of the constitution states: “Unless otherwise specified in this constitution, the validity of any proceedings in the People’s Majlis shall not be questioned in any court of law.”

Nasheed argued that decisions made by parliament could not be challenged in court except in instances clearly specified in the constitution.

The purpose of article 88 was to prevent parliament’s decisions being challenged or overturned, Nasheed said, as in the absence of such a clause the Supreme Court would become a “People’s Appeal Majlis” with supremacy over the house of elected representatives.

“If every decision of the People’s Majlis is appealed at the Supreme Court in the manner that any judgement by the High Court can be appealed at the Supreme Court, then there is no difference between the People’s Majlis and the High Court,” Nasheed wrote.

This was against the separation of powers envisioned in the constitution, Nasheed said, which vested legislative powers in parliament and clearly specified instances where its decisions could be challenged at court.


6 thoughts on “Parliament tables no-confidence motion against Defence Minister in defiance of Supreme Court injunction”

  1. Perhaps Kutti can explain to us mere mortals "who" if any is going to keep the Majlis in check if Majlis decisions are to be challenged as unconstitutional.

    As far as we the people are aware it is the "Constitution that is Supreme" and not "The Parliament"! A basic fact that MDP's MP Eva seems to be oblivious to.

    Agreed that even the Supreme Court has to act within the boundary set by the Constitution. The question of the day is who will ensure that the Majlis acts within the same boundaries of the Constitution.

  2. This same Majlis of 77 can amend the Constitution. Supreme Court enforce and interpret the Constitution.

  3. This parliament need to abolish and reduce the side to 30 people.

    These 77 people sitting there are bunch of jokers who had no clue of what they are doing .

    People of Maldives should learn to whom they should vote to elect as MP. Monkeys should not be voted to be there as MP

  4. When the government, parliament and the JSC (who overlooks the integrity of judiciary)agree that judiciary needs reform and lacks integrity, we see the judiciary trying to be above the law, and the country seems to be heading for a "judicial dictatorship". People's power, freedom and rights are being robbed in broad daylight by the judiciary.

  5. This nation, if it wants to remain a nation of the 21st century, first needs to get rid of the remnants of the 30 year old dictatorship Gayyoom cannot still forget!
    Factually he should be put on trial for all the wrong he had done within these 30 years and still continuing to do!
    When he was told to vacate office by the ballot, he told the peoples that he was leaving politics and will be taking up more social work!
    Thus along with the official seal of the president, had retreated in to total political planning to oust the Elected President of the peoples, which he was able to complete only on the 7th of February this year.
    Get rid of this clown and his vices in all the walks of life in this country, one can have everything good!

    Most of the people (except for the Gayyoom mania infested crowd who have been licking our coffers to the ultimat), ofcourse are aware of what powers the parliament, executive and judiciary have and can have.

    It is not necessary for Kutti Nasheed to jump from his slumber and tell us this. But I am rather just a little happy that this once he has tried and is perhaps trying to be true to his meat, and a good try!

    If he needs cash, people of his constituency are ready to come to him with another brief case!

  6. All Majlis members should have first degree to be able to contest for elections


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