A constitutional law expert has warned Parliament that it risks contempt of court if it goes ahead to present the NGO (Amendment) Bill in the 193 strong House after the High Court stopped the tabling, debate and passing of the bill.
Edge Kanyongolo, a professor of law at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, said the best parliament could do was to fight the court injunction in court so that it is vacated.
This follows a decision First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje to ignore the court injunction arguing that the courts cannot enforce an order on Parliament while it is seating.
Mcheka Chilenje described an injunction stopping the tabling of a bill as irrelevant.
But her ruling has opened a can of worms about the kind of legal advice and directions the Office of the Speaker receives from National Assembly officials.
“The judiciary has powers to issue court orders and injunctions which parliament must obey. Parliament should challenge the court injunction in court,” said Kanyongolo.
Opposition members of parliament and civil society organisations want the bill be withdrawn from parliament and proper consultations be made as well as some amendments before it is tabled in parliament.
Centre for Human Rights and Rehbilitation, Centre for Development of People and Youth and Society took parliament to court to stop the government from tabling the bill in the House.
Malawi Human Rights Commission has since asked for the withdrawal of the bill from parliament and it should be reviewed thoroughly before it is tabled to be passed into law.