Bill on judges scheduled for parliament today

The controversial bill on judges is scheduled for today’s session in parliament. The committee stage of the bill will conclude and the presented to parliament chamber for the MPs to debate.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has meanwhile locked the Supreme Court and is barring entry to the judges, despite handing over the Supreme Court key to the Chief Justice as per a court ruling by the Civil Court on Sunday.

The case was presented to the court by the Prosecutor General requesting that the Supreme Court’s key should be returned to court staff. The MNDF is continuing the blockade despite pragmatic adherence to the legal technicality of handing over the key.

The opposition has claimed the interim Supreme Court should continue to function until the appointment of a new Supreme Court, as per article 284 of the Constitution in Chapter 14, which governs the transitional period.

Earlier in year the Supreme Court judges sent a letter to the president, declaring that they had ruled themselves permanent.

The judges of all courts, who met requirements approved by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), have meanwhile taken oaths for 70 years despite many having criminal convictions, limited qualifications, and in many cases, primary-school level education.

The government contends that the interim Supreme Court no longer exists on conclusion of the interim period, as Chapter 14 is now annulled. The deadlock worsened considerably on conclusion of the interim period, as the constitution was one of the few areas on which both sides of the political sphere agreed.

Meanwhile, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader and MP ‘Reeco’ Moosa Manik has told local newspaper ‘Miadhu’ that the parliament will today conclude the work on the law on judges, reestablish the Supreme Court and appoint the Chef Justice according to the constitution, before midnight.

Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ali Waheed told newspaper Miadhu that the party would being street demonstrations if today’s session did not continue, accusing the MDP of  obstructing the sessions.

Attorney General Husnu Suood resigned on Sunday claiming his job was untenable due to the constitutional void created by parliament’s failure to legislate and cancellation of critical sessions. He also called on the Speaker of the parliament Abdulla Shahid to share responsibility for the situation and also resign.

Parliament had promised to complete necessary legislation in a special session on Saturday, but this was cancelled by the speaker.

Reports this morning suggested the session was proceeding cautiously.