The Consultative Council, or Majlis Al-Shoura was established by Royal Decree No. A/91, dated 27-8-1412 H (March 1992).
The primary function Majlis Al-Shoura is to provide the King with advice on issues of importance in the Kingdom. The Saudi Consultative Council is called to pronounce itself on the stateís behavior that is submitted to it by the Council of Ministers. The quorum required for the Councilís meetings is of the majority of two-thirds of its members. The decisions must be adopted by an absolute majority and they are then prepared by specialized committees. They are then transmitted back to the Council of Ministers who also has to decide on the same issues. In case of agreement between the two Councils, the law is promulgated after the consent of the King, who has the veto right. In case of disagreement, the statute explicitly states that the King is free to make a decision.
King fahd was presented with the first public petition in December 1990 supporting the establishment of a majliss al-shura (consultative council), which had been promised by the King.
Another letter was submitted to the King in May 1991, signed by more than 400 religious figures. It called for the establishment of a majliss al-shura with a role in domestic and foreign affairs.
In march 1992 the King decreed the establishment of a basic system of government (a constitutional framework for the state), the Consultative Council (an appointive national Assembly), and a system of regional government (13 appointive provincial councils).
The Consultative Council was inaugurated by King Fahd in December, 1993.
The Consultative Council, when set up, consisted of a speaker and 60 members selected by the King. In 1997, King Fahd increased membership of the Consultative Council to 90 members. In 2001, the membership of the Consultative Council was again increased, on this occasion to 120.
Saudi Arabia Constitution
Article 67 The regulatory authority lays down regulations and motions to meet the interests of the state or remove what is bad in its affairs, in accordance with the Islamic Shari′ah. This authority exercises its functions in accordance with this law and the laws pertaining to the Council of Ministers and the Consultative Council.
Article 68 Consultative Council: A Consultative Council is to be created. Its statute will specify how it is formed, how it exercises its powers and how its members are selected.
Article 69 The King has the right to convene the Consultative Council and the Council of Ministers for a joint meeting and to invite whoever he wishes to attend that meeting to discuss whatever matters he wishes.
Saudi Arabia - Consultative Council Establishment Act
Article 1 [Establishment]
In accordance with the words of Almighty God: "It was by some mercy of God that thou wast gentle to them; hadst you been harsh and hard of heart, they would have scattered from about thee. So pardon them, and pray forgiveness for them, and take counsel with them in the affair, and when thou art resolved, put thy trust in God; surely God loves those who give their trust"; And in accordance with the words of almighty God: "And those who answer their Lord, and perform the prayer, their affairs being counsel between them, and they expend of that we have provided them"; And following (the tradition of) the Prophet of God, may the prayers and blessings of God be upon Him, in consulting his companions, and in inciting the ummah to engage in consultations, the Shura Council is created, and it exercises the tasks entrusted to it in accordance with this Statute and the Basic Law of Government, with commitment to the Book of God and the tradition of His Prophet, and maintaining the ties of brotherhood and cooperation in kindness and piety.
Article 2 [Commitment]
The Shura Council is founded on adherence to God′s bonds, and commitment to the sources of Islamic jurisprudence. The council members will be committed to serving the public interest, preserve the unity of the community of Muslims, the entity of the state and the interests of the ummah.
Article 3 [Composition]
The Shura Council is composed of a chairman and sixty members chosen by the King from amongst scholars and men of knowledge and expertise, and the rights and duties of members and all their affair are defined by a Royal decree.
Article 4 [Qualifications]
A member of the Shura Council must meet the following conditions:
(a) He must be a Saudi national and residing in Saudi Arabia.
(b) he must be known to be good and competent.
(c) he must be no less than thirty years old.
Article 5 [Resignation]
A member of the Shura Council may submit an application to be relieved of membership of the Council to the chairman of the Council, and the latter will submit this to the King.
Article 6 [Discipline]
If a member of the Shura Council fails the duties of his work, he should be investigated and tried in accordance with rules and measures to be issued by a Royal decree.
Article 7 [Vacancy]
If a post of member of the Shura Council becomes vacant for any reason, the King chooses the person who replaces him and issues a Royal decree in this connection.
Article 8 [Public Interest]
A member of the Shura Council is not allowed to use his membership for his own interests.
Article 9 [Incompatibility]
It is not permitted to combine membership of the Shura Council
and any other government post or to manage any other company unless the King sees fit that there is a need for this.
Article 10 [Chairman]
The chairman, his deputy and the Secretary general of the Shura Council are appointed and relieved of their posts by Royal decrees; their salaries, rights, duties and all their issues are defined by a Royal decree.
Article 11 [Oath]
Before starting their duties on the council, the chairman, members and the Secretary-general of the Shura Council should take the following oath before the king:
"I swear by God Almighty to be loyal to my religion, then to my King and country; I swear not to divulge any of the state′s secrets; I swear to protect its interests and its systems and to carry out my duties with sincerity, integrity, loyalty and justice."
Article 12 [Headquarters]
Riyadh is the headquarters of the Shura Council. The Council may meet in another area inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia if the King deems it necessary.
Article 13 [Term]
The period of the Shura Council will be four Hijrah years starting from the date specified in the Royal decree issued regarding its establishment. A new Council will be formed at least two months before the end of its predecessor′s term. In the event of the term ending before the formation of a new Council, the outgoing Council will continue to function until a new Council is formed. When a new Council is formed, it has to be observed that new members must be selected, whose number must not be less than half of the total number of council members.
Article 14 [Royal Speech]
The King or whoever deputizes for him will deliver annually a Royal Speech at the Shura Council on the state′s internal and external policy.
Article 15 [Tasks]
The Shura Council will express opinions on the general policy of the state, which will be referred to it by the Council of Ministers. In particular, it can do the following:
(a) Discuss the general plan of economic and social development.
(b) Study international laws, charters, treaties and agreements, and concessions and make appropriate suggestions regarding them.
(c) Interpret laws.
(d) Discuss annual reports submitted by ministries and other government bodies, and make appropriate suggestions regarding them.
Article 16 [Quorum]
The Shura Council′s meeting will not be considered in order without the attendance of at least two-thirds of its members, including the chairman or who-ever deputizes for him. Decisions will not be in order unless they are approved by a majority in the Council.
Article 17 [Authority]
The decisions of the Shura Council will be submitted to the chairman of the Council of Ministers for deliberation. If the views of both Councils are concordant, they will be issued following the King′s consent; if the views are different, the King has the right to decide what he deems fit.
Article 18 [Foreign Affairs]
International treaties, agreements, orders and concessions are issued and amended by Royal decrees after being studied by the Shura Council.
Article 19 [Committees]
The Shura Council will form, from amongst its members the specialized committees necessary to exercise its jurisdiction. It can form special committees from amongst its members to discuss any question on its agenda.
Article 20 [Staff]
The committees of the Shura Council can enlist the help of anyone outside the members of the Council upon the consent of the chairman of the Council.
Article 21 [General Body]
The Shura Council has a general body consisting of the chairman of the Council, his two deputies and the heads of the specialized committees.
Article 22 [Summoning Officials]
The chairman of the Shura Council has to submit to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers requests to summon any government official to the meetings of the Shura Council when it discusses matters relating to that official′s jurisdiction. The official will have the right to debate but not the right to vote.
Article 23 [Legislative Initiative]
Every ten members of the Shura Council have the right to propose a new draft law or amendment of an executive law and submit them to the chairman of the Shura Council; the chairman should submit the proposal to the King.
Article 24 [Requesting Documents]
The chairman of the Shura Council should submit a request to the prime minister to provide the Council with statements and documents in the possession of the government apparatus which the council believes are necessary for facilitating its work.
Article 25 [Annual Report]
The chairman of the Shura Council will submit an annual report to the King on its work in accordance with the Council′s internal regulations.
Article 26 [Employees]
Civil service systems will apply to the employees of the Council′s apparatus unless the internal regulations state otherwise.
Article 27 [Council Budget]
The Shura Council is to be allocated a special budget by the King; it will be spent in accordance with rules to be issued by a Royal decree.
Article 28 [Financial Control]
The Shura Council′s financial matters, financial control and final statement of accounts are to be organized in accordance with special rules to be issued by a Royal decree.
Article 29 [Internal Regulations]
The internal regulations of the Shura Council define the prerogatives of the chairman of the Shura Council, his deputy, the Council′s Secretary general, the Council′s apparatus, methods of holding its sessions, management of its work and the work of its committees and method of voting; the regulations also define rules of debates, ethics of responses and other such matters that could provide restraint and discipline inside the Council, as it should practice its prerogatives for the good of the Kingdom and the probity of its people; these regulations are to be issued by a Royal decree.
Article 30 [Amendments]
The amendment of this law can be carried out only through the (same) method by which it was promulgated.
Mode of Election
The term of the Majlis Al-Shoura is set at four years (Hijira Calendar), with a clear stipulation that, when a new Shura Council is formed, at least half of those appointed must be new members.
The King remains the final arbiter of state affairs. The King also retains the power to appoint and dismiss both Ministers and Consultative Council members and has the power to dissolve the Majliss, restructure it, and appoint a new one at any time.
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