Legal Profession Bill accepted into the Parliament

Parliamentarians pictured during a sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The Legal Profession Bill, which lays the legislative framework for the establishment and empowerment of a Bar Council, has been accepted into the Parliament for consideration.

The bill, submitted by North Maafannu MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, was accepted into the Parliament with the vote of 78 parliamentarians this Monday afternoon.

The bill has now been sent to the Judicial Committee for evaluation.

Speaking during the preliminary debate, several parliamentarians said that some of the clauses in the bill were unconstitutional and should be revised during the committee stage.

Vilimale’ MP Ahmed Usham, who served at the Attorney General’s Office for 10 years and who also served as Deputy Attorney General, said that the Attorney General being a member of the Bar Council and running the Bar Council by establishing a committee, would undermine the independence of the Bar Council.

He said that the AG being on the Bar Council created room for conflict of interest, and proposed that the specific clause be omitted.

Article 68 (b) of the Legal Profession Bill says the member appointed to the Judicial Service Commission from among attorneys will be removed from power the moment the bill is ratified and becomes a law.

Several parliamentarians argued the clause was unconstitutional, while others argued in support of the clause.

One of the parliamentarians who spoke in support of the clause, Thulhaadhoo MP Hisaan Hussain said the current representative of attorneys at JSC, Latheefa Qasim was elected to the commission in violation of the spirit of the constitution.

“We don’t believe her being elected to a post defined by the constitution through a vote taken among judges and magistrates, was an election made as defined by the constitution. Our objective is to correct this wrong via this bill,” said Hisaan.

She stressed that the bill would play a pivotal role in stopping unregulated penalties against attorneys.

Once the Legal Profession Bill passes and comes into effect, all decisions regarding lawyers, including issuance of licenses, will fall within the mandate of the Bar Council.