Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman has spoken out against the judicial watchdog body, declaring it as politicised and attempting to eliminate former President Mohamed Nasheed from the September 7 elections.
The JSC has not only created the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court in which the former President is being tried, but has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing the case. The JSC’s membership includes several of Nasheed’s direct political rivals, including Jumhoree Party leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, one of Nasheed’s rival presidential candidates.
Sheikh Rahman, the member of the commission appointed by the public, said political influence of the commission had heightened after Gasim had been appointed.
He is the second JSC member to blow the whistle on the Commission, echoing the concerns of JSC member Aisthath Velezinee who was stabbed in the street in early 2011.
Sheikh Rahman made the remarks during a live appearance on local TV channel Raajje TV, just over a week after UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul also aired concerns over the JSC in a statement following a fact finding mission to the Maldives.
Speaking on the show, Sheikh Rahman said the JSC had openly discussed their intent to ensure the elimination of the Maldivian Democratic Party and presidential candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed from the upcoming elections.
Sheikh Rahman alleged that Chair of the Commission, Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed, had abused his post and powers as the chair to try and eliminate Nasheed from contesting the elections, and alleged that Adam Mohamed had “used the commission as a political tool”.
“The politics of the majority control the commission, hence the rule of law, due process and due diligence do not exist in the JSC,” Sheikh Rahman stated. “The commission has no amount of respect for constitutional principles.”
“It is common now to hear a lot of MDP and Nasheed bashing in commission meetings. This was not how things usually were before. I believe politically biased comments like this have increased since Gasim joined the JSC as a representative of the parliament,” Sheikh Rahman continued.
“Gasim even went to the point of asking the UN Special Rapporteur Knaul when she held a meeting with us to state in her report that it was MDP who torched the courts. I heard him say exactly that,” Sheikh Rahman said.
JSC Chair abuses power to continue running unlawful Hulhumale’ Court
Sheikh Rahman further revealed that the JSC had “handpicked” magistrates to preside over the case against Nasheed, for his detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
He said that the JSC’s intention in assigning the case at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to the three specific magistrates was for the explicitly stated purpose of “sentencing Nasheed”.
According to Sheikh Rahman, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was initially established through misinformation and manipulation of the commission on the part of JSC Chair Adam Mohamed.
“The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court is actually abolished automatically with the concept of judicial districts coming into effect upon the ratification of Judicature Act on 10 August 2010. And yet, they continue to run the court,” Sheikh Rahman stated.
He went on to say that as the constitution defines Hulhumale’ and Villingili as parts of the capital Male’ city, there was no authorisation to set up separate magistrate courts on these islands.
Sheikh Rahman alleged that despite these facts, JSC Chair Adam Mohamed had invoked the theory that Hulhumale’ and Villingili were separate islands and were therefore qualified to have their own magistrate courts.
Appendix 2 of the Constitution of Maldives which defines administrative divisions, states that Male’ is inclusive of Villin’gili and Hulhumale’.
Sheikh Rahman revealed that he had, as a member of the JSC, submitted a complaint to the commission to review the decision regarding the court on the grounds that it was unlawfully established. He stated that his attempts were in vain as Chair Adam Mohamed had once again abused his powers and refused to schedule the matter during the commission sessions.
Sheikh Rahman stated that he had made multiple requests for a decision on the Hulhumale’ Court, all of which was rejected by the chair. He confirmed that he had not received any written or official responses to the motions he submitted on the matter.
“Another false justification that Adam Mohamed used is that the matter cannot be discussed in the commission as it referred to an ‘ongoing case’,” he said.
UN Special Rapporteur Gabriella Knaul also criticised the ‘arbitrary appointment’ of judges to Nasheed’s case. She also stated that the Hulhumale’ Court did not have the constitutional mandate to oversee the specific case.
Former JSC member Velezinee also repeated her concerns about the politicisation of the JSC at a recent press conference held to share her remarks on the preliminary findings of UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul.
Incumbent JSC Member Gasim Ibrahim, meanwhile called Knaul’s findings ‘lies and jokes’ at a JP party rally.
The Hulhumale’ Court meanwhile on Wednesday refused to delay Nasheed’s trial until after the elections, despite the prosecution stating they had no objection to such a decision.
Gasim Ibrahim was not responding to calls at time of press.