People's Majlis's decision to take a long holiday without passing the legislative frame for the constitutionally mandated general elections slated for February plunged the country into its first ever constitutional crisis. It also plunged the legislature into a controversy, which many believe lowered the institution's esteem by a further few notches. Supreme
Court ruled Tuesday against the Majlis decision. Now the nation waits with bated breath for the next salvo from the Majlis. In the meanwhile two questions remain unanswered.
Does the Majlis have final say over the other two branches of the state? Some Majlis members appear to believe that since they represent the people they must have the last word. This begs the question: who does the President represent? After all he is elected by a majority of the people of the Maldives in a direct election. When it comes to the Chief Justice, while he is not elected, his appointment by the other two branches gives him an indirect mandate from the people. Thus, the Majlis's claim to be the sole voice of the people does not appear very strong. In this particular instance can the Majlis with any confidence claim that its decision enjoys the support of a majority of Maldivians? Further, if one branch of the state has overwhelming power, is it compatible with the concept of 'checks and balances'?
Question 2: Where does the Attorney General stand constitutionally? The AG is appointed almost like any other member of the cabinet of ministers and remains a member of the executive. However he/she is supposed to represent the interests of not just the government, but the whole state in courts. This is fine under normal circumstances, but could lead to serious controversy when the interests of two branches of the state are at loggerheads.
The bottom line is can anyone, even if it's the Majlis, act with impunity and expect its decisions to go unchallenged?