The seven-member Civil Court and several prominent lawyers have condemned the judicial watchdog Judicial Service’s Commission’s (JSC) recommendation to remove Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan from the Supreme Court bench.
In a resolution passed last night, the Civil Court said the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the Supreme Court bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.
The amendment, passed on Wednesday and ratified on Thursday, reduced the seven-member Supreme Court bench to five judges.
It also mandated the JSC to deem two judges guilty of gross misconduct and gross incompetence and recommend their dismissal within three days.
The People’s Majlis is currently holding an extraordinary sitting to vote on the recommendation.
The Civil Court Chief Judge Ali Rasheed Hussein, and Judges Aisha Shujoon, Jameel Moosa, Hathif Hilmy, Mariyam Nihayath, Huseein Mazeed, and Farhad Rasheed said the move was against principles of natural justice and several international conventions, and could “destroy judicial independence” in the Maldives.
“We believe we are obliged to comment on the issue for the sake of the democratic and judicial history of the Maldives, and we believe keeping silent at this juncture amounts to negligence” the bench said.
The People’s Majlis had failed to provide the JSC with any instructions on recommending judges for dismissal, the Civil Court claimed.
The Civil Court noted the United States of America in 1886 had voted to reduce their ten-member Supreme Court to seven, by deciding the state would not appoint new members to the bench when a judge’s seat became vacant.
Meanwhile, President Abdulla Yameen’s nephews, lawyers Shaheen Hameed and Maumoon Hameed, have spoken out against the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) attempt to dismiss the two judges.
Shaheen told CNM that the JSC had failed to provide Faiz and Muthasim to defend themselves against charges of misconduct and negligence.
“[The JSC] have said it is alright to dismiss these first two judges by flouting all procedures, but that due process must be followed in dismissing other judges. This is gross violation of equality before the law,” he said.
The ruling party’s “unacceptable” attempt to dismiss Faiz and Justice is the epitome of injustice, and appears to demonstrate that the Supreme Court “is a coat tailored for a specific individual,” Maumoon has said on his Facebook status.
The JSC’s sudden ruling, without an investigation and without any evidence within hours of the amendment’s ratification shows it was a pre-decided conclusion, Maumoon contended.
He also questioned why the JSC had found Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed, implicated in a series of sex tapes with three foreign women, fit for the bench.
Lawyer and Jumhooree Party MP Ali Hussein in an interview with Haveeru called the attempt at dismissals an “atrocity.” Criminals are guaranteed a fair trial, but the two judges’ right to speak in their defense had been violated, he said.
“The two were appointed because they are capable. If there has been no changes, it is an issue if they are judged incapable because of an amendment to the law. This means those who hold a majority in the JSC can get rid of judges they do not like, not because they are incapable,” he said.
MPs have not yet been given details of the JSC ruling. Speaking to Minivan News on Thursday, JSC Secretary General Abu Bakr said the commission had decided to keep proceedings confidential until a Majlis vote.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said it will vote against the amendment. The Jumhooree Party (JP) has not yet taken an official stand while Adhaalath Party Anara Naeem said she will wait on details of the JSC verdict before she takes a stand.