Judges occupying state-owned apartments while simultaneously receiving living allowances are currently under investigation following accusations that they are receiving unfair privileges, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has confirmed.
“We have received complaints that some judges are living in government flats and taking living allowances. The complaint states that giving flats to only certain judges is giving them unjust privileges,” ACC Deputy Chair Muaviz Rasheed said.
Three judges are living in flats leased to the former Justice Ministry, including Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed, High Court Judge Ahmed Shareef and Civil Court Judge Abdullah Adheeb, according to local newspaper Haveeru.
Meanwhile, Haveeru also reported that the parliament’s Finance Committee has decided to grant the ownership of those flats to the judges and has forwarded the matter to the floor for a vote.
A Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP belonging to the finance committee confirmed the decision was taken in his absence during a committee meeting last month.
Minivan News could not get details of the decision at the time of press.
The finance committee is headed by MP Ahmed Nazim from the People’s Alliance (PA). the party headed by former President Gayoom’s half brother, Abdulla Yameen. Multiple counts of fraud against Nazim were recently dismissed by the Criminal Court.
Asked whether the parliament committee can grant ownership of state property to judges, Muaviz responded that “I cannot comment on as it may affect the ongoing investigation.”
However, he added that parliament must follow the laws while deciding the salaries and privileges of independent institutions.
According to the Judges Act article 39(a) judges belonging to the same court shall be granted equal salaries and living allowances. Any discrimination in giving living allowances or benefits to judges is restricted under the same clause.
Under the state’s revised pay structure, judges of Superior courts receive Rf45,000, including a Rf30,000 basic salary and a Rf15,000 living allowance while island courts magistrates are paid Rf20,000, including a Rf16,000 basic salary and a Rf4,000 living allowance.
The Supreme Court Judges meanwhile receive a basic salary of Rf51,000 and a living allowance of Rf20 ,000 and the High Court Judges are paid Rf38,000 as basic salary and Rf15,000 as living allowance.
The revised pay structure endorsed by the parliament in 2010, raised the judiciary’s wages and allowances by 87 percent. According to the wage structure, Rf89 million (US$5.7 million) was included in the budget to cover the salaries and benefits for 244 judges in 2011, compared to the Rf 41 million (US$2.7 million) spent in the previous year.