The Civil Court today dismissed a decision by its own watchdog body, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), to take action against Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed for violating the Judge’s Code of Conduct.
An investigation into a complaint of ethical misconduct against Judge Abdulla was completed by a JSC special committee which recommended in the final report to the commission that action be taken against the Judge for violating the Judge’s Code of Conduct – specifically, by making a politically biased statement in an interview with DhiTV.
However, during the period given to Judge Abdulla to respond to the report, he instead obtained a Civil Court injunction against his further investigation by the judicial watchdog.
The JSC appealed the injunction on January 24 of this year, claiming that the Civil Court had disregarded the commission’s constitutional mandate which allowed it to take action against judges, and argued that the court did not have the jurisdiction to overrule a decision of its own watchdog body.
But the appeal was rejected, concluding that the commission had not provided the court “any substantial reason to terminate the injunction and that the High court cannot make a decision on the case while the case is pending at a lower court.
As the final verdict on the case came out today, the Civil Court overruled the the decision stating that Judge Abdulla was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations during the investigation.
According to the decision, providing a chance to submit any complaints after the investigation is completed cannot be deemed as an opportunity for the Judge to present his defence.
Like all other state institutions the JSC must also be held accountable in front of the law, the court noted, addding that party who believes to have suffered damages due to a decision by the commission have the right to litigate matter to protect his rights.
Furthermore the Civil Court concluded that action cannot be taken against the Abdullah under the Judge’s Code of Conduct, because the said violation predates the regulation.
Charges against the Judge
Apart from the ethical misconduct complaint, the JSC revealed that a total of 11 complaints have been submitted to the commission against Judge Abdulla Mohamed, among which are serious allegations of corruption and abuse of authority.
The first complaints against Abdulla Mohamed were filed in July 2005 by then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed – now Dr Waheed’s political advisor – and included allegations of misogyny, sexual deviancy, and throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused.
Among the allegations in Dr Saeed’s letter was one that Judge Abdulla had requested an underage victim of sexual abuse reenact her abuse for the court, in the presence of the perpetrator.
In 2009, those documents were sent to the JSC, which was requested to launch an investigation into the outstanding complaints as well as alleged obstruction of “high-profile corruption investigations”.
The JSC decided not to proceed with the investigation on July 30, 2009.
Former President’s member on the JSC and whistleblower Aishath Velezinee for several years contended that Abdulla Mohamed was a central, controlling “father figure” in the lower courts, answerable to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and a key figure responsible for scuttling the independence of the judiciary under the new constitution.
Central figure in Nasheed’s downfall
Abdulla Mohamed was also a central figure in the downfall of former President Mohamed Nasheed, following the military’s detention of the judge after the government accused him of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, links with organised crime and “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights violations and corruption cases.
Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests starting in January, while the government appealed for assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.
As protests escalated, elements of the police and military mutinied on February 7, alleging Nasheed’s orders to arrest the judge were unlawful. A Commonwealth legal delegation had landed in the capital only days earlier.
Nasheed publicly resigned the same day, but later said he was forced to do so “under duress” in a coup d’état. Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has taken to the streets in recent months calling for an early election.
Judge Abdulla was released on the evening of February 7, and the Criminal Court swiftly issued a warrant for Nasheed’s arrest. Police did not act on the warrant, after international concern quickly mounted.