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Maldives: Supreme Court Ruling on Parliament's Authority over Police, Military

(Mar. 17, 2011) According to a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of the Maldives, that country's police and national defense forces must answer questions from the Parliament's National Security Committee (the “241 Committee”) whenever asked. (Ahmed Nazeer, Parliament Has Authority over Police and MNDF, Declares Supreme Court, MINIVAN NEWS (Mar. 12, 2011).)

The decision came in the wake of a November 2010 request from the Majlis, the Parliament of the Maldives, for legal counsel from the Court. The police and defense forces, as represented by Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh and Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel of the defense forces, had not responded to a legislative request to come and answer questions. (Id.)

The grounds for submitting the request for counsel to the Court are found in article 95 of the Constitution of the country, which states:

The People's Majlis may by resolution refer to the Supreme Court for hearing and consideration important questions of law concerning any matter, including the interpretation of the Constitution and the constitutional validity of any statute. The Supreme Court shall answer the questions so referred and shall provide the answers to the People's Majlis, giving reasons for its answers. … (Functional Translation of the Constitution of the Maldives, 2008 [hereinafter Constitution], Republic of Maldives Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture website, (last visited Mar. 15, 2011).)

The Supreme Court based its decision in the matter in part on the clause in the Constitution that reads, “[t]he security services shall be subject to the authority of the People's Majlis.” (Art. 239 (b), id.; Nazeer, supra.) In addition, the decision refers to article 99, which establishes that the Majlis and its committees may “summon any person to appear before it to give evidence under oath, or to produce documents.” (Art. 99 (a), Constitution, supra.)