Court denies request for injunction to bar MP Yauqoob from attending Parliament

Dhaandhoo MP Yauqoob Abdulla. (Sun Photo)

The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, denied the request for an injunction to bar Dhaandhoo MP Yauqoob Abdulla from attending the Parliament pending the outcome of a case lodged with the court, which challenges the legitimacy of his parliamentary seat.

Questions over the legitimacy of Yauqoob’s parliamentary seat arose after he accepted an appointment to the council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Maldives (ICAM), despite a provision on the Maldivian Constitution which prohibits parliamentarians from holding office in an independent commission or an independent office.

Former Civil Court judge Mohamed Haleem and Assad Shareef – a lawyer who represents Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), have filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking the court to declare Yauqoob lost his parliamentary seat.

Haleem and Assad Shareef argue that it is a qualification of a parliamentarian that they do not hold office in an independent commission or independent office. They argue that Yauqoob therefore lost his qualification the moment he took office as a member of the council of ICAM, and that he should therefore lose his parliamentary seat.

They also asked the court for an injunction to bar Yauqoob from attending the Parliament pending the outcome of the case.

However, the Supreme Court bench overseeing the case decided on Wednesday not to issue an injunction, citing lack of damages to the appellant even if the inunction isn’t granted.

Both sides presented their arguments during this Wednesday’s hearing, with Yauqoob’s representative insisting that Yauqoob hasn’t done anything which would warrant him losing his parliamentary seat.

Haleem and Ashraf filed their petition citing violation of Article 8 and Article 73 of the Maldivian Constitution.

Article 8 of the Maldivian Constitution establishes the supremacy of the Constitution, declaring that the powers of the state shall be exercised in accordance with the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Article 73 of the Maldivian Constitution declares the qualifications of parliamentarians, and Article 73 (d) declares offices parliamentarians are prohibited from holding.

Article 73 (d) Unless otherwise specifically provided in the Constitution, a member of the People’s Majlis shall not continue to hold office in:

  1. The cabinet of ministers;
  2.  The office of state minister, deputy minister, or other state office of an equivalent level;
  3. An independent commission or an independent office;
  4. The civil service;
  5. A corporation wholly or partly owned or managed by the government;
  6. The armed forces;
  7. The police;
  8. Any other office of the state except an office held by virtue of being a member of the People’s Majlis.

Yauqoob’s representative argued that serving in an office as declared under Article 73 is not grounds for losing his parliamentary seat, and that that had not been the intended purpose in enacting the provision in question.

Yauqoob’s representative asked the court to declare there is no reason for Yauqoob to lose his parliamentary seat.

Yauqoob had announced his resignation from ICAM shortly after he came under fire for the decision.

Citing this, Assad pointed out that Yauqoob does not deny taking office in the council of ICAM, and that he had confessed to leaving office in the council of ICAM.

The bench concluded Wednesday’s hearing after listing questions they wish for the two sides to answer during the next hearing.

The case is overseen by a bench of five justices; Justice Husnu Al Suood – who chairs over the bench, Justice Mahaz Ali Zahir, Justice Aisha Shujoon, Justice Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, and Justice Ali Rasheed Hussain.