February 22, 2018

Supreme Court Issues a temporary Order Upholding the Parliamentary Extension of the State of Emergency

The Supreme Court yesterday issued a temporary Order in reference to Article 141, Article 144(b) and Article 145(c) of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, ordering the Parliament and the relevant State authorities to act upon the Parliament’s approval and extension of the Presidential Decree (Decree No: 2018/3), inclusive of the amendments, by thirty days implementing a State of Emergency in the Maldives. Parliament had decided on 20 February 2018, that in addition to approving and extending the State of Emergency, they would also lift restrictions on Articles 100, 101, 113 and 228 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives.

This temporary Order was passed based on the submission by the Parliament, under Article 95 and Article 258 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Maldives, whereby the Parliament requested an advisory opinion.

This order issued by the Supreme Court of the Maldives highlights the following:

(a) That Section 38 of the Regulations of Parliament elaborates upon Article 87(b) of the Constitution, stating the situations requiring compliance by citizens, which requires more than half of the total membership of Parliament be present at the sitting. Nonetheless, the declaration of a State of Emergency is not included as a matter which requires compliance by citizens as per Section 38 of the Regulations of the Parliament. Hence, the session of Parliament approving and extending the State of Emergency proceeded under the understanding that the quorum needed to pass the Presidential Decree and their consequent amendments were guided by Article 86 of the Constitution, which stipulates that only 25% of the total membership would constitute quorum; and

(b) The Parliament at session also decided to seek advisory opinion of the Supreme Court, as per the provision provided to do so under Article 95 of the Constitution, due to questions raised by some of the Members of Parliament with regard to the Parliament’s quorum.