Cabinet Secretary Dr Abdulla Nazeer told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on Thursday (October 24) that the President’s Office could not organise a swearing-in ceremony to formalise Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Dr Mohamed Latheef’s appointment to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) due to a Supreme Court ruling declaring that parliament’s removal of former CSC Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan was unconstitutional.
Dr Latheef was appointed chair of the CSC by parliament in August with 60 votes in favour. While the chair of the CSC is also an ex-officio member of the JSC, Dr Latheef has yet to be formally appointed to the judicial watchdog body by the President’s Office.
Responding to queries regarding the delay from MPs on the oversight committee last week, President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s cabinet secretary said that the Attorney General had advised that Dr Latheef could not be sworn in to the JSC due to the Supreme Court judgment.
Dr Nazeer repeatedly insisted that a solution to the impasse must be found either by the People’s Majlis or the Supreme Court.
Asked who the current chair of the CSC was, Nazeer replied: “To tell you truth, I do not know. So someone should clear this up.”
While he was unaware which of the two received the salary and benefits of the CSC chair, Nazeer said the President’s Office does not state the name of the commission’s chair in official correspondence with the CSC.
In November last year parliament voted 38–32 in favour of removing Fahmy after the Independent Institutions Committee investigated a complaint of sexual harassment lodged by a female CSC employee.
The Supreme Court however overruled parliament in March this year on the grounds that the committee allegedly violated due process and criminal justice procedures in its sexual harassment inquiry, and that Fahmy would receive two punishments for the same crime if he was convicted at court (double jeopardy).
Parliament had approved a replacement for Fahmy – Fathmath Renee Abdul Sattar – in August this year with 51 votes in favour and none against. However, shortly before a swearing-in ceremony at the President’s Office to present Renee her credentials, the Supreme Court issued an injunction to block her appointment.
However, the following day Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain accused his own court of issuing the injunction without his knowledge.
Former JSC member Aishath Velazinee has argued that the Majlis was given authority over CSC appointments in 2010, describing the Supreme Court’s move as a “mutiny”.