Nexbis appeals High Court injunction halting border control project

Malaysia-based security solutions firm Nexbis has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against a High Court injunction ordering a halt to the border control system, reports newspaper Haveeru.

The High Court issued an injunction after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) appealed a Civil Court judgment that ruled that the commission did not have the legal authority to order the Department of Immigration and Emigration to halt the border control project.

The High Court ordered a halt to the project pending a verdict on the appeal by the ACC.

Nexbis lawyer Ismail Visham told the local daily today that the company decided to appeal the injunction as the High Court case remained stalled, causing delays to the project.

The Supreme Court has meanwhile scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday. The Supreme Court had earlier issued a writ of mandamus overturning the first High Court injunction on the grounds that the High Court bench that heard the case was unlawful.

A reconvened High Court bench subsequently issued the injunction for a second time on July 16.

Following the Supreme Court intervention, Controller of Immigration and Emigration Dr Mohamed Ali has told Minivan News on July 11 that there was “no legal barrier” preventing the implementation of the border control system.

The High Court meanwhile ordered police to investigate claims made to the ACC that Chief Judge of the High Court Ahmed Shareef met officials from the company in Bangkok.

The dispute concerns the deployment of a border control system, specifically the installation of an electronic border gate system in Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), bringing technological upgrades such as facial recognition, fingerprint identification and e-gates to the Maldives.

The MVR500 million (US$39 million) deal had stalled after the ACC alleged corruption in the bidding process, leading to a ongoing series of high-profile court battles and delays that led the Malaysian firm to threaten legal action against the Maldivian government should it incur losses for the work already done on the project.

In May 2012, the project was brought to a standstill by the first High Court injunction and a raid on immigration offices by ACC staff. At the time the MVR10 million (US$650,000) first phase of the border control project had been completed, according to local media reports.