Male, February 27 (newsin.asia): The Maldivian Supreme Court on Monday said that 50% quorum is not necessary for parliament to pass the State of Emergency resolution and that 25% is enough if Art 87 (b) of the constitution is read with Section 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure.
A press release issued by the President’s Office quoted the Supreme Court as saying that Art 87 (b), which makes it mandatory for certainly resolutions to be passed with 50% of the members present, does not apply to the quorum needed for passing the State of Emergency because that subject does not fall under the categories mentioned in Sec 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure.
Art 86 of the constitution says that the presence of at least 25% of the members shall constitute a quorum of the People’s Majlis (parliament). Art 87 says that, unless otherwise provided in this constitution, all decisions of the People’s Majlis (parliament) shall be decided by a majority of votes of the members present and voting.
But Art 87 (b) says that despite the provisions of Article 86, voting “on any matter requiring compliance by citizens” shall be undertaken only when more than half of the total membership of the People’s Majlis are present at the sitting at which the matter is voted upon.
Supreme Court’s Interpretation
Following the reference made to it on February 20 on the quorum needed to extend the State of Emergency, the Supreme Court said that though Article 87(b) creates an exception to this rule “for matters requiring compliance by citizens,” it should be seen in the light of Section 38 of the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure, which elaborates on Article 87 (b) and defines matters requiring compliance by the citizens.
The areas Sec 38 spells out for a 50% quorum are: (a) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that obliges the citizens to obey in a certain manner; (b) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that imposes the citizens to act upon in a particular manner or not; (c) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that requires citizens to spend any money; (d) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that imposes taxes on citizens; (e) Voting on a Bill (Statute) that holds a citizen liable depending on the commission of an act or not; or (f) Voting on a Bill (Statute) regarding personal liability of citizens.”
The court accepted the government case that the State of Emergency was declared not to make citizens to behave one manner or the other but to restore the constitutional power of the Executive as mandated by the constitution which had been usurped by the Executive; to preserve the nation’s security and to investigate complicated cases of corruption with foreign involvement.
The average Maldivian citizen, not involved in these specified crimes related to the attempted “judicial coup”, was not to be affected by the Emergency regulations.
The government points out that curfew had not been imposed and that normal business activity has not been impaired by the State of Emergency.
As the Quorum stated in Article 86 of the Constitution was met during the Special Session of the Parliament, the decision made on the Special Session held on 20th February 2018 at Parliament, assenting the Decree declaring State of Emergency and extending the Decree by 30 days was valid, the Supreme Court said.
President Abdulla Yameen on February 5, 2018, declared a State of Emergency Decree No. 2018/3, under Article 253 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.
“The State of Emergency was enforced in order to protect the peace and wellbeing of all citizens, and the country, and to facilitate investigations following the events that unfolded in relation to the Supreme Court Order No. SC-SJ/01/2018, issued on 1 February 2018, which resulted in the disruption of the functions of the executive power and the State institutions vested with specific mandates under the Constitution, the infringement of national security and public interest, and if implemented, would potentially lead to an undermining of the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.”
“However despite the declaration of the state of emergency, there will be no enforcement of a curfew; and general movements, services and businesses will not be affected,” the Presidential press release said.