MDP concerned over changes to legal appeal process

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern about citizens’ right to appeal following a reduction in the time allowed for cases to be filed.

“MDP is severely concerned that the Supreme Court has passed a ruling which would deprive citizens of the right to appeal as mentioned in the Constitution, and that the Supreme Court is amending regulations passed by the parliament and is imposing upon the legislative power,” said a statement released yesterday (January 30).

“We would like to point out that the appeal period at the Supreme Court is now unclear,” suggesting that the removal of relevant articles of the Judicature Act were beyond the court’s prerogative.

The court’s decision reduces the time allowed to file appeals in the higher courts from 90 days (180 for cases from the atolls) to ten, prompting legal experts to accuse the court of infringing upon the constitutional right to an appeal.

“They have taken out the appeal process,” says former Judicial Services Commission member Aishath Velezinee. “Ten days for appeal will deprive people of the right to appeal.”

Another legal expert suggested that the new time frame would make it practically impossible for many people to lodge an appeal.

While the court has claimed that current time frames for appeal deny the right to “fair and public hearing within a reasonable time” – Article 42 of the Constitution, legal experts say the changes will in practice remove the right to appeal enshrined in Article 56.