The Chief Justice of the Maldives Supreme Court has accused his court of issuing an injunction without his knowledge, following parliament’s appointment of a replacement for Civil Service Commission (CSC) chief Mohamed Fahmy Hassan.
Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain told local media that the decision to block the swearing in of Fahmy’s replacement was made without the knowledge of three of the court’s seven judges. Such a move would contravene the country’s constitution which mandates an uneven number of judges be present for all Supreme Court decisions.
The Supreme Court told local media yesterday that their earlier invalidation of the Majlis’s decision to dismiss Fahmy rendered the decision to replace him redundant. The statement alleged that Faiz had rejected a request to attend an emergency meeting to address the issue.
Aishath Velazinee, former member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) on which the chair of the CSC automatically serves, has described the incident as a “mutiny in the Supreme Court.”
Fahmy’s replacement Fathimath Reenee Abdulsathar was reportedly on the verge of taking the oath of office in the President’s Office on Thursday when the ceremony was halted with news of the injunction.
The People’s Majlis had earlier in the week voted overwhelmingly to replace former CSC head Fahmy after allegations of sexual harassment. The Supreme Court had previously ruled parliament’s decision to dismiss Fahmy as unconstitutional.
The Majlis Independent Institutions Committee launched an investigation into Fahmy’s alleged misconduct in June 2012. Velazinee argued that the Majlis does have the authority to appoint and dismiss CSC members after an amendment made to the CSC Act in 2010.
The Supreme Court told local media yesterday that their earlier invalidation of the Majlis’s decision to dismiss Fahmy rendered the decision to replace him redundant.
Velazinee compared the incident to the manoeuvres of the High Court bench in 2010, which she described as “the first of many mutinies that had eventually led to the coup of February 7, 2012.”
She notes that it was the same judges involved in circumscribing the powers of the JSC for political ends in 2010 who were behind this new “mutiny”. A full account of the events surrounding the self-appointment of the Supreme Court at the end of the constitutional transitional period were documented in Velazinee’s 2012 book ‘The Failed Silent Coup: In Defeat, They Reached for the Gun’.
In her assessment of judicial independence in the Maldives earlier this year, UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul described this decision to retain all five interim Supreme Court judges as having “no legal or constitutional basis.”
The JSC eventually opted to interpret Article 285 of the country’s new constitution as purely symbolic, waiving the need to remove any sitting judges who failed to meet clearly defined educational and ethical standards.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation from office followed his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Nasheed’s decision to detain the judge came after he filed a successful injunction in the Civil Court preventing his further investigation by the court’s own watchdog body, the JSC.