Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has submitted a complaint against Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain at the judicial oversight body Judicial Services Commission (JSC) over the Supreme Court’s decision to annul articles of the Parliamentary Privileges Act.
In November, the Supreme Court struck down four clauses in the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act including Article 11 (a) which states that an MP cannot be summoned to court during Majlis work hours.
At the time, the Criminal Court had sentenced Hamid to six months in jail for failure to attend a separate trial on refusal to provide urine. Hamid had contended the hearings were scheduled during Majlis work hours, in violation of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act and as such he was not obliged to attend the hearings.
Hamid had been under house arrest but was jailed following the Supreme Court’s verdict. However, the High Court struck down the Criminal Court’s sentence and set Hamid free.
In his complaint, Hamid said the Supreme Court’s verdict had caused him injustice.
“When the Supreme Court released constitutional ruling number SC-C/2013/28 on November 12, 2013 regarding a number of parliamentary privileges, Chief Justice of the Maldives Supreme Court was aware that at the same time, I, a member of Parliament, was under house arrest regarding a case on parliamentary privileges. At a time when there were public allegations that the Criminal Court had then acted towards me against parliamentary privileges, the Chief Justice failed to consider the injustices that may be done unto me by releasing the prior-mentioned ruling at such a time,” Hamid’s complaint stated.
A statement released by the MDP states that if the said act was done “deliberately and knowingly” by the Chief Justice, it was an injustice caused to Hamid. It then said that if, however, the Chief Justice was unaware of the facts when the Supreme Court released the ruling, it is then proof that he is “unfit for and incapable of fulfilling his mandate”.
Head Judge of the High Court Panel that overturned the Criminal Court’s sentence, Judge Yoosuf Hussain had said at the court hearing that the Parliamentary Privileges Act at the time of sentencing still had a clause stating that members of parliament cannot be summoned to court in a manner that will inconvenience their attendance to parliament meetings.
Judge Hussain said that due to this reason, Hamid’s failure to attend hearings cannot be judged as having been without a justified reason.
He further stated that the lower court had failed to follow due process to be observed in the instance that a court summons cannot be delivered to a person, and if their families refuse to accept the summons on their behalf.
The judge said that as a result of this failure, the High Court does not believe the lower court had grounds to act against MP Hamid in this instance.
JSC Member appointed from among the public Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman stated that he is unaware of the complaint yet.
“After a complaint is submitted to the JSC, it will be looked into by the legal section. Once they complete the process, it will come to the commission members along with their legal opinion. So it will take some time before we see this complaint,” he explained.
Senior Legal and Complaints Officer Hassan Faheem Ibrahim said that the legal department has not received the complaint at the time of press.