HC: Allocation of seats for women in LCE not unconstitutional

High Court proceedings in Moosa Anwar v State.

The High Court of the Maldives has ruled that the allocation of 33 percent of seats for women in the local council elections is not unconstitutional. The judges’ bench of the High Court consisting of five judges who were presiding over the case ruled so unanimously.

Former Jumhooree Party (JP) Youth leader Moosa Anwar submitted the case regarding the allocation of 33 percent of seats from local councils for women stating that it violates constitutional rights.

Hearings in the case were concluded in November last year.

The Judges' bench which ruled on the case included Judge Mohamed Niyaz, Judge Ali Sameer, Judge Abdul Raoof Ibrahim, Judge Hussain Shaheed, and Judge Hathif Hilmy. 

In previous hearings, Moosa Anwar had argued that the constitution did not permit to allocate a certain number of seats for women, and doing so violated rights granted under the constitution. He argued that only by amending the consti9tution, can such a move be made. 

Moosa had argued that the allocation of seats for women violated the right to contest elections, and the right to participate in the administration by representatives elected by the citizens.

He noted five rights granted by the Constitution which were in violation due to the allocation of seats. They included the right to vote, the right to contest in elections, the right to participate in the administration through elected representatives in an independent manner, the right to employment, and the guarantee of fundamental rights for both women and men.

The freedom of the right to elect a male official to the post or vote for a male was violated by the amendment and the right to contest for the seats by men was also violated by the amendment, according to Moosa. 

In response, the state argued that women required special protections socially and that the constitution permitted the allocation of seats for women in order to provide equal opportunity.

The state argued that academic papers had also shown that women required special protection and the allocation of seats was not discriminatory as decided by the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice as well. 

The High Court in its ruling today, stated that Moosa was challenging correctly passed articles of the law by the parliament, which were not infringing the constitution and were not contradictory with the constitution. The High Court also determined that it could not be discrimination when assisting or protecting those in need of such protection in the community where they are below the general standards.

The High Court stated that taking into account the arguments of the case, it was evident that the articles of law were not in contradiction with the constitution.

The High Court stated that since the articles of the law were based on allowed discrimination under the constitution, it cannot be deemed as contradicting the constitution. The verdict also read that allocating seats for women in the constitution was within the legal interpretations of the constitution. 

After the verdict, Moosa Anwar said that the ruling paved the way to bury the rights granted under the constitution and stated that he would be appealing the case to the Supreme Court.