Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz has called on the parliament to hasten the appointment of a new prosecutor general (PG).
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Drug Court’s development structure, the Chief Justice noted that parliament had been conducting extra sittings to conclude unfinished work, and that it was possible to appoint a PG during one of those sittings.
The Criminal Court decided in January that it would not accept any cases submitted by the PG’s Office, and that it would halt all existing cases as the PG position had been vacant for over 30 days.
Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem today said that he was yet to receive any response from the apex court regarding an appeal for assistance in the matter, made over two weeks ago.
Faiz noted that each day that passed without a PG was a day on which he felt concern. He expressed regret that one half of the criminal justice procedure was now ineffective, and that the constitutional time frame to appoint the new PG had passed.
Furthermore, Faiz said that if the constitution mandates to do something during a specific duration of time it has to be done in that period. The constitution states that if the position of PG becomes vacant a new person must be appointed in 30 days.
Faiz presided over Supreme Court proceedings during the annulment of the 2013 presidential election first round – though the chief justice himself opposed the ruling. The delays resulting from the verdict’s guidelines subsequently led to the extension of the legally mandated presidential term of office, prompting fears of a constitutional crisis.
Speaking to Minivan News today Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem said that the Supreme Court had still not responded to a letter sent by his office complaining about the Criminal Court’s decision.
‘’We called the Supreme Court today also to ask about the response but we were unable to get a word from the Supreme Court regarding the issue,’’ he said.
He stated that it was not for him to make the Supreme Court and parliament accountable and there was nothing he could do about it.
‘’Next week we will decide what to do,’’ he added.
On November 25, former PG Ahmed Muiz submitted his resignation just as parliament was set to debate a no-confidence motion against him.
Last month, Shameem said that the laws did not prohibit the deputy from taking over the responsibilities of the PG should a new person not be appointed within the required 30 days.
He also expressed concern that there were people held in pre-trial detention who were to be kept there until their trials were concluded.
“So what do they do now, it would not be fair to keep them in there until the parliament comes back to work from recess after three months and appoints a new PG,’’ Shameem said.
On December 10, President Abdulla Yameen proposed his nephew Maumoon Hameed for the post, submitting the name to parliament for MPs’ approval.
The issue was sent to the Majlis independent commissions committee, with the group subsequently deciding to seek public opinion before sending Hameed’s name to the parliament floor. The Majlis is now on recess and will not re-commence work until March.
On January 9, the Supreme Court had ordered the Criminal Court to continue pending trials, saying that the criminal justice system must proceed in order to maintain constitutional rule.
The Criminal Court announced it would not reconsider its decision to stop accepting cases, but decided to continue with cases that were already filed at the court.