Supreme Court Accepts Petition Against Parliamentary Amendment on Presidential Impeachment
The Supreme Court has agreed to consider a petition brought forth by Attorney General Ahmed Usham, targeting a recent amendment to the parliament’s Standing Orders that potentially eases the process for the removal of the nation’s President or Vice-President.
Filed on the 28th of January, the plea calls for the annulment of three specific amendments to the Standing Orders of the 19th Parliament.
Under the constitution, a two-thirds majority of the total parliamentary vote is required to dismiss the President or Vice-President. With the current parliament consisting of 87 members, this necessitates at least 58 votes for such a removal. However, following the resignation of several members to assume cabinet and other senior roles in the new government, parliament now comprises 80 members, reducing the required threshold for a two-thirds majority to 54 votes.
The crux of the controversy lies in the amendments spearheaded by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which holds a substantial majority in parliament. Together with The Democrats, the coalition commands 57 seats, sufficient under the new rules to impeach the President or Vice-President. The contentious rule change was enacted on 18 December, sparking debates over its constitutionality and potential impact on the stability of governance.
Further adjustments to Articles 202 and 203 of the Standing Orders were also approved, detailing procedural steps for the removal of the President or Vice-President. These include a streamlined notification and debate process, a reduction in the committee size for investigating allegations from 11 to seven members, and specific provisions for the defence of the accused, including the right to legal representation.
The Supreme Court’s acceptance of the Attorney General’s petition marks the beginning of a critical examination of parliamentary procedure within the framework of constitutional mandates. The court’s decision will not only influence the immediate political situation but also set a precedent for the interpretation of legislative power and its limits in the governance of the nation.
The court is yet to announce a date to hear the petition.
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