Parliament rejects bill to bar politicians from JSC

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

A constitutional amendment to bar politicians from Judicial Service Commission (JSC) submitted by the opposition has been pushed out of the Parliament.

The bill to change the composition of JSC was submitted to the Parliament by Mahibadhoo MP Ahmed Tariq (Tom) – a parliamentarian from the main opposition party, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), back in August.

The bill was rejected with a vote of 50-13 on Tuesday. Two parliamentarians from the main ruling party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) abstained from the vote; North Hithadhoo MP Mohamed Aslam and Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef (Mavota).

The preliminary debate on the bill was held at the Parliament on Tuesday morning. None of the parliamentarians from MDP, which enjoys a supermajority at the Parliament, joined the debate.

The current composition of JSC allows for politicians to serve on the commission. While JSC’s composition has been criticized by opposition political parties throughout different administrations, no attempt is made to change the composition, even when opposition political parties who criticized the composition later come to power.

PPM, when it had enjoyed a supermajority at the Parliament during the previous administration, had refused to change the composition of JSC. And officials from the current administration, when they had been in the opposition, had criticized the composition and pledged reform.

Tom’s bill had called for the speaker, parliamentary representative, president’s representative, the attorney general and the Civil Service Commission president to be excluded from JSC.

The JSC is often described by the opposition as an additional political branch of MDP.