Supreme Court to appoint magistrates following recusal

The Supreme Court has informed lower courts that it would be appointing magistrates to take over cases where magistrates have recused themselves.

In a letter (Dhivehi) from Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain addressed to lower courts on Thursday (September 4), the apex court noted that it has learned of magistrate courts writing to the Judicial Service Commission to appoint magistrates in cases where the presiding magistrate had excused himself.

Noting that the Supreme Court was the “highest authority for the administration of justice” under Article 141 of the Constitution and referring to a circular issued on August 10, 2011 – which stated that the Supreme Court would specify rules for appointing magistrates following recusal –  the chief justice asked magistrate courts to write to the Supreme Court if a magistrate recuses himself from a case.

In May, the Supreme Court promulgated new rules stipulating that the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) will function in accordance with policies set by the apex court bench and under the direct supervision of a designated justice.

In a comprehensive report on the Maldivian judiciary released in May 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, wrote that “the direct control of the Supreme Court over the Department of Judicial Administration have had the effect of centralising administrative decisions in the hands of the Supreme Court.”

“This has undoubtedly contributed to the strong impression that lower courts are excluded from the administration of justice and decision-making processes,” she wrote.