JP challenges flag ban at court

JP challenges flag ban at court
June 06 12:01 2017

The opposition Jumhooree Party has challenged the Elections Commission’s ban on using its flag and logo at the civil court.

Citing new rules introduced in March for the use of the national flag, the electoral body informed the JP on Monday that the party’s flag – which depicts a white crescent moon and star in a green circle with a red border – resembles the official standard of the presidency.

The regulations prohibit the use of flags or symbols identical to the president’s flag, a variant of the national flag.

The JP’s national executive committee decided to comply with the EC’s order and to seek a court ruling. The lawsuit was filed in the civil court Tuesday morning.

MP Abdulla Riyaz, the JP’s deputy leader, said the EC’s order was “one in a series of arbitrary actions taken by the commission to obstruct and hinder the functioning of opposition parties.”

The commission instructed the party to change its flag and logo in March, he said, but the JP disputed the legality or constitutional basis of the national flag regulations.

JP MP Ali Hussain and lawyer Maumoon Hameed previously argued that the regulations lack legitimacy as it does not derive authority from a law passed by the parliament.

“Besides, changes to the party’s logo or flag can only be made by approval from the party’s national congress, which is due to be held in February 2018,” Riyaz added.

The JP has been using its registered flag and logo since early 2008, he noted.

“The present logo of JP has become a widely recognised symbol of the party and represents the party’s identity and brand. Asking the party to change its logo is akin to destroying the party name and its public identity,” the JP said in a statement.

“The notice issued by the Elections Commission has no legal basis. The party views this action as hindering the party’s official duties, and calls on the Elections Commission to give political parties the requisite space to carry out constitutionally mandated, lawful political work.”

Shortly after the national flag regulations were enacted by the home ministry in March, the police removed the national flag from the office of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

According to the 13-point regulation, permission must be sought from the home ministry before erecting the national flag on private premises. If a member of the public or a political party is authorised to do so, the flag must be hoisted down after 6:00 pm.

The regulations also prohibit flying another flag higher than the national flag. But the flag of an independent state can be flown alongside the Maldivian national flag at the same height.