Parliament’s Privileges Committee completed work Sunday (December 23) on the parliamentary privileges bill submitted back in 2010 by MP Riyaz Rasheed. The proposed bill will now be forwarded to the People’s Majlis floor for a vote.
Under the draft legislation, a person found guilty of committing acts that are deemed disrespectful towards parliament, or that interferes with the Majlis work, would face a fine or a jail sentence of between three to six months.
The bill further stipulates that members of the public found guilty of disruption while attending the People’s Majlis to view proceedings would either be fined between MVR 500 or MVR 1000 or sentenced to jail for three to six months.
Moreover, persons found guilty of providing false information to the parliament or any of its committees would be fined an amount between MVR 3,000 and MVR 10,000 or sentenced to three to six months in jail.
On the arrest of serving MPs, the draft legislation conceded that parliamentarians could be arrested if they are seen committing a crime, but stipulated that the Speaker of Parliament must be notified at the earliest time following such an arrest.
In the event that an MP has to be arrested under different circumstances, police must provide a court order obtained through an application by the Prosecutor General.
The bill additionally stipulates that even when under arrest, MPs must be allowed to attend parliament proceedings.
In contrast to existing parliamentary rules of procedure, the draft privileges bill allows the arrest of MPs even at a time when a no-confidence motion against a state official has been tabled in the parliament.
The bill however stipulates that MPs under arrest must be allowed to participate in no-confidence votes.
The bill also states that no MP must be summoned to a court of law or any institution in a manner which may interfere with their official work at the parliament or in any of its committees.
It further states that a court summons must not be delivered to an MP while they are on the premises of the parliament building.
Additionally, the bill states that no MP must misuse his elected post or any information gathered in official capacity for personal benefit or to facilitate such benefit to a third party.
Minivan News attempted to contact Chair of the Privileges Committee MP Hussain Mohamed, but his phone was switched off at the time of press.
In the two years that the privileges bill has been pending at the committee stage, groups of concerned citizens have demonstrated against some of the clauses in the bill.
Some concerns raised by the group include the inhibition of criticism against parliamentarians, large amounts of remuneration, special treatment in criminal justice proceedings and a pension scheme unique to parliamentarians.