Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is Majlis More Equal Than the Other Two Powers?

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.

Question 1:
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?



Anonymous said...

Hypothetically if the president is impeached by the Majlis, can the supreme court undo that? Of-course as long as there is a no way that Nasheed can be impeached. But in the future if there is ever a chance for someone else to come, would it work?

Ahmed Shareef said...

The government,majlis and courts have different sovereign powers specific to their job. So, when it contradicts each other and when it is one lawyer who represents three these bodies, it doesnt make sense for me. I believe that Majlis should have its own lawyer.

Another bothering point which is like a stress is having lot of legal advisors at President's Office. Attorney General with several lawyers under her, is enough to give legal advise to the president and that is the mandate of AG Office. It is as heavy as a ministry and still the president having lawyers everywhere in addition to those Special Advisors To The President, seems not well structured.

Shihab said...

If this Majlis fails to deliver on what is required of it and uphold the promising new August Constitution, the people should come out and lock the House and dissolve it. People who are paid beyond our means cannot be left to hijack the People.

Anonymous said...

it is not correct when you say the "1st constitutional crisis". President Nasheed has been elected under the so called constitutional void. why doesn't anybody harp about that.

And Shihab, for once shut your gap and do something. it is easy to say we should do this or that. where were you when all the demonstrations happened. Or is this the instruction from ex golhaa hassan saeed.

Anonymous said...

Maldives decided on a presidential system in a national referendum. This means the 3 branches of the Government are separate with powers checked and balanced.But just because Majlis has the authrity to allocate money Ignorant MPs like Ibra think that the other 2 branches are under Majlis.Ibra is a very arrogant fellow who is very self-opinionated and he mistakenly believes he know it all. Recently he has been overheard saying that Supreme Court justices should be taught a lesson just because they ruled part of the law regarding judicial services unconstitutional. He just forgot that it is the job of Supreme court to strike down laws which are unconstitutional.He has also bee heard saying the supreme court justices will not be re-confirmed by Majlis just because the Supreme court started hearing on the constitutional void case. Ibra is just such a stupid person who just thinks that he knows everthing. The more he opens his mouth, the more he reveals of himself.