The People’s Majlis has written to the chief justice and the attorney general, stating that the president and vice president of the Election Commission (EC) were removed contrary to the constitutional procedures governing their appointment and dismissal.
The letter – signed by Speaker Abdulla Shahid and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim – also noted that the move contravened the Elections Commission Act.
According to Majlis, the content of the letter was based on legal advice of parliament’s counsel general after her analysis of the Supreme Court’s verdict.
The Supreme Court yesterday sentenced EC President Fuwad Thowfeek to six months imprisonment under Article 88(a) of the penal code, and ordered the enforcement of the sentence be delayed for a period of three years.
The verdict also declared that Fuwad and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz had “lost the right and legal status to remain members of the commission and that the pair’s seats on the commission have become vacant”.
The letter stated that it was the People’s Majlis which is tasked with the appointment and removal of EC members, and that for any given reason a member of that commission can only be removed by a simple majority of votes in a parliament sitting as “clearly stated” in Article 177 of the constitution and Article 14 of the Elections Commission Act.
“Referring to the said article of the constitution and the elections commission act, it is clear that the authority to appoint and remove member from that commission is especially reserved for the People’s Majlis without the involvement of any other party.”
The letter also said that the removal of the pair by the Supreme Court contravenes the procedures specified in Article 177 of the constitution and Articles 5, 10, and 14 of the EC Act.
The letter referred to a number of statements from the Supreme Court’s verdict nullifying parliament’s removal of Mohamed Fahmy Hassan from the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in March last year.
The Majlis today noted that the constitutional procedures for removing EC members and CSC members were the same, saying that the court’s previous ruling had said the following:
“It is clear from the letter of the constitution that the constitution does not allow any of the three powers of the state to carry out the constitutional jurisdiction or functions of another, and that it is clearly stated that the system of separation of powers, and check and balance established between three powers by constitution is an principal feature of the constitutional system and the constitution of the Maldives.”
Referring to the same verdict, the letter said that the court had stated that “all powers of the state should fulfil their jurisdictions and functions within the constitutional limits set for that power by the constitution”.
The same ruling also stated that constitutional procedures regarding independent institutions are there to ensure their independence. In this regard, the verdict noted that tasking the executive with appointment, the parliament with removal and accountability, and the chief justice with oath taking are also check and balance procedures established under the constitutional principle of separation of powers.