The Maldivian People’s Majlis (parliament) on Wednesday refused to approve a treaty between India and Maldives on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

Instead, the Majlis sent it to the National Security Committee to revise the matter further discussions. “The government is keen on this treaty, although there is some concern among opposition MPs loyal to the opposition DRP [Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party: Maldivian People’s Party in English],” a Maldivian government source told The Hindu, when asked about the developments.

“Sending the bill to the [National Security] committee is a usual procedure and normally, the bill would come back to the floor of the Majlis for further debate and a vote after spending around 2 weeks at committee stage,” the source added.

Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed’s party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, does not have the numbers in the 77-member Majlis to force the issue on any debate. This has often led to crippling paralysis on the legislature front.

According to the Indian Union Ministry of Home Affairs the treaty, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties in Criminal Matters, is designated to facilitate widest measures of mutual assistance in investigation, prosecution and prevention of crime, service of summons and other judicial documents, execution of warrants and other judicial commissions and tracing, restraint, forfeiture or confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime.

These agreements assume importance in combating transnational organised crimes, trans-border terrorism, crimes and other serious offences, such as, drug trafficking, money laundering, counterfeit currency, smuggling of arms of explosives, etc. India has so far operationalised these Treaties with 26 countries. Also, India along with other SAARC countries has signed a Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in 2008 and has since ratified the Convention.

Maldivian news website, Minivan News, said that in a letter sent by the Home Ministry to the President’s Office, the ministry said that the Attorney General (AG)’s legal advice was sought regarding the matter and that the AG had no objections. Also, the Finance Ministry had no objections.

Article 6[2] of the treaty states that assistance may be refused if the execution of the request would be contrary to the domestic law of the requested state, the website said.

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