Parliament standing orders case: Hearings conclude; judgment next

Supreme Court bench hears case on controversial amendment to parliament's standing orders.

Supreme Court, on Wednesday, has concluded the hearings in the case filed by the Attorney General’s Office (AG Office) over the controversial amendment to the parliament’s standing orders.

Seven lawmakers resigned from the Parliament in November, to assume top positions in President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s administration. But the Elections Commission decided against holding by-elections, so close to the parliamentary elections.

Taking advantage of the situation, the main opposition MDP – which holds a majority in the Parliament – amended the Parliament’s standing orders so that vacated seats aren’t counted when determining the total number of MPs. The state filed a case with the Supreme Court to nullify the amendments following which MDP, nullified its initial amendments and brought an amendment to another article, by including a new subsection comprising of the same content.

The first hearing in the case was held at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The bench hearing the case clarified their queries during the hearing which spanned approximately two hours.

The bench chaired by Justice Dr. Azmiralda Zahir also includes Justice Aisha Shujoon, Justice Husnu al Suood, Justice Mahaz Ali Zahir and Justice Mohamed Ibrahim.

Justice Dr. Azmiralda Zahir who is charing the Supreme Court bench hearing the case on controversial amendment to parliament's standing orders.

The case is proceeding without a respondent as the parliament is also represented by AG Office, the appellant; an arrangement the parliament has expressed no objection to.

At Wednesday’s hearing, the Supreme Court bench inquired whether any decision has been made in violation of the injunction issued by the court earlier at the request of AG Office, ordering the suspension of the amendment until it makes a final ruling. The state attorney, in response, affirmed this will be looked into, adding the minutes of all sittings held since the injunction will be submitted to the court.

State attorney addresses Supreme Court bench during case on controversial amendment to parliament's standing orders.

Justice Azmiralda then stated that the judgment in the case will be next if the justices have no further questions regarding the documents that will be submitted.

“(We) conclude all the hearings in the case. However, if we feel the need to hold an additional hearing after we review the documents that will be submitted later, an additional hearing will be held in this case,” she said.

“If not, hopefully, the next hearing will be to conclude the case,” she added.

According to both amendments to the standing orders by MDP, the total number of MPs would now be 80, instead of 87.

MDP has warned they plan on filing a motion to impeach President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu before the current term ends in May, claiming they have collected enough signatures to file an impeachment.

With 56 MPs between MDP and Democrats which recently announced an alliance to work together in the parliament to hold the government accountable, they have the power to impeach the president and the vice president, if they wish.