Constitutional disaster averted as Parliament approves Supreme Court

The Maldives has appointed a new Supreme Court and narrowly averted constitutional catastrophe, after a series of parliamentary sessions today demonstrated remarkable and uncharacteristic cooperation between the two major parties.

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz took the oath of office this evening in a ceremony at the President’s Office, and then administered the oath to five of the other appointed judges. The sixth, Muthasim Adnan, was out out of country.

Earlier this week a surge in political partisanship, caused by disagreement over the interim period set out in the Constitution and the locking of the Supreme Court by the military, had threatened to derail the process and leave the Maldives without its highest judicial authority.

On Tuesday morning parliament approved the amended judges bill 71 in favour, out of 73 members present. It was quickly ratified by President Nasheed shortly after lunchtime.

The new Judges Act enshrines judicial independence, governing ethical standards and rules on appointment and dismissal, as well as powers, responsibilities and practicalities such as salaries and allowances. The law also requires serving judges to meet a certain standards within seven years, or face dismissal.

“This law goes a long way to filling the constitutional void the country has been in since Sunday,” said the President’s Press Secretary, Mohamed Zuhair.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader MP Ali Waheed meanwhile resigned from the from the parliamentary committee on independent state bodies, after voting against his party.

“Ali Waheed voted in the committee against the party’s decision. I am saddened because Ali Waheed resigned after breaking the three-line whip and I condemn his action,” DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof told newspaper Haveeru. Mahlouf has been nominated to replace Waheed on the committee.

A night of relief

That evening, after committee deliberations, the chamber unanimously approved the Supreme Court bench nominated by President Nasheed following rapid consultation with the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), who, down to just six members present, narrowly made quorum.

The new seven-member Supreme Court bench consists of: Former Chief Justice Abdullah Saeed, interim Supreme Court Judge Sheikh Abdullah Areef, Ahmed Muthasim Adnan, Counsellor General of Parliament Dr Ahmed Abdullah Didi, and High Court Judges Ali Hameed Mohamed and Mohamed Abdullah.

Parliament also approved the president’s original nomination for Chief Justice, Ahmed Faiz Hussain.

The President’s member on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Aishath Velezinee, described Faiz as “a well-respected man amongst the judges. I have never heard anybody question his independence or impartiality. He is a learned man and amongst all the politicking and hanky-panky going on, he has maintained his integrity.”

A senior government source said while the government was “not happy with every member of the [Supreme Court] bench, the President decided to bank a win. The mood is not one of jubilation, but of relief.”

Speaking to Minivan News after the vote, Velezinee said it was “a relief that we have passed through a moment which could have become really bad had the political parties not worked together and showed strength and goodwill towards the nation.”

“I hope that we will be able to reevaluate all the judges, including the reappointees. I haven’t read the documents yet, but I believe it is possible. However today is a day of relief as we begin the holy fasting month of Ramazan, after which we will get back to work improving the judiciary.”


30 thoughts on “Constitutional disaster averted as Parliament approves Supreme Court”

  1. I wish the parties could work together more. this is a great day for our democracy. glad that thug ali waheed has been relegated from his party too.

  2. This could have been done ages ago. What's wrong with these people. I say, salary cut based on misperformance should be included in the Majlis elections bill.

  3. Ramazan Mubarik & Congratulations for all Maldivians for the achievements of today towards better justice and security ahead.

    May Almighty GOD bless us all.

  4. I heard Dr.Waheed got very pissed off when he heard MDP and DRP (softer individuals) made a pack to resolve the issue..and apparently Dr.Waheed said to his SG that "we lost the opportunity to kick Anni from presidency and run a GIP government!"

  5. This is a very happy day for the Maldives. We got a new President in 2008, a new Parliament in 2009, and finally, a new Supreme Court in 2010. I am very optimistic about the path to a vibrant and well functioning democracy.

    In many ways this bench has the potential to be one of the best achievements of this first democratic administration. Of course, the people will judge it on its ability to deliver houses, better healthcare, better schools, better infrastructure, etc.

    I doubt if the common man cares very much about what happened today, or indeed understands the implications of the approval and swearing in of the bench.

    Getting this Supreme Court approved might be one of the true legacies of the Nasheed Administration. IF it had compromised too much and allowed, say, people like Mujthaz Fahmy on the bench- for life!!!!- that would have been a real disaster.

    There are some dubious characters on the bench. I guess this is the compromise that had to be made with elements in the opposition. Given the current state of things, I believe that this is the best that could be achieved.

    At least the new Chief Justice is widely seen to be impartial and uncorrupt. That is a big, big achievement.

    Credit is due to President Nasheed, Speaker Abdulla Shahid and Leader of the Opposition Thasmeen Ali.

    Thanks for working this out.

  6. Finally we see some commendable work from our elected representatives. Thank you, and hope the spirit of cooperation and dialogue will continue in addressing all the pressing national needs. Ramazan Mubarak.

  7. The not so subtle attempt to give some credibility to Velizinee by only asking her opinion is almost laughable

  8. Today the Executive,Parliament and judiciary made a mockery of the Constitution. The seven judges were passed without proper review or interview. This nation has failed its own constitution. These judges are approved for life as well but the main 3 parties has cut a deal in which equal representation is given to the parties in the supreme court bench. What a big sorry.There will never be rule of law in this country it will always be blurred along party lines.This country is more color coded than apartheid South Africa.

  9. What has the government forgone this time by taking sides with DRP. Did they promise never to pursue the recollection of stolen funds of Yamin, Thasmeen and the like...? There would have to be a major win to the rich of DRP if they could silence the likes of Mahloof even if not Ali Waheed.

  10. Ofcourse, Fasy. They had two years to do this and they didn't. But why would they? They played hard right to the last minute to topple this government. They gambled with their last cards to bring chaos to the nation in the hope that President Nasheed will lose his cool and lose his way. What they forgot is that it was they who provided the training for him to have the nerves of steel he has today through all that he suffered to bring freedom dignity and power to our people. This is a milestone for our nation. Let us all give Sodhagaath as we begin our month of purification, and strengthen our faith in Allah and ask His guidance for the healing of our people. As we bring integrity to our institutions as we are doing now so shall we have unity.

  11. I am happy to see the sudden change in the moods. I hope the Majlis, the Executive and the The suprem all three powers can work together in a nationalistic mind rather personal ego. If we do we can get back on our feet and make a peace nation once again so that we, people can live our lives as we use to.

  12. see how well things go when hardliners like reeko moosa and ali waheed are sidelined. today it was president nasheed making decisions and thats the nasheed we want as our leader. people must accept the fact drp and pa are a political force to reckon with, however one hates them. i hope and pray nasheed stays this way and show these people like zaki afeef and reeko who's the boss here. if he does that and work WITH the opposition he will be much loved by his people. maldivians can forgive and forget very quickly.

  13. I totally agree with the comments made by Aisha Maleesha.Last night was a night of shame to all the members of Parliament even though it heralded nights and days of blessings to the rest of us.The three main parties cut a deal on the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court thereby undermining the independence of the judiciary.The judges were appointed almost for life as the average age of a Maldivian is around 70 years.The nominies were not interviwed and quetioned. The very purpose of having various parliamentary committies is to scrutinze matters which come before such commities and not to whole sale endorse shady deals cut by leaders of the parties.The members have certain obligations to those who elected them as well.There were some MPs in the commities on independent institutions who took a princilped stand. So now we the people will have to live with a Supreme Court imposed upon us by the three main political parties in haste, without following the proper procedure. The Law passed,ratified, amended, amendments ratified,nominies agreed by JSC,noimnated by the the President, approved by a parliamentary committee, approved by Parliament,and finally taking oaths of office, all in the course of a single day,even better than Solomon Grundy whose life was long enough to be a week. Grundy did everything from being born marrying and dying, it took him a week.Surely, "Something is rotten in the State of Denmark".

  14. Let us hope that things will improve from now on and they will all work for the betterment of the Maldivains

  15. It maybe a good achievement for some people. Congratulations for all parties involved. At least it feels like the storm is calm for now.
    But the way the deal was made is distant from the spirit of the constitution. It is obvious that everyone was fighting for their survival. Lets wait and hope for the better.

  16. Time to express appreciation for members of Parliament representing both the parties MDP and DRP, and especially those among the parlimentarians who in the last few days have sarificed sleep and family to work out a solution.

    Congratulations to President Nasheed for leading the way.

    Gratitude to Velizinee for having the guts to stand up and letting the public know and therefore preventing the nation from settling for much less.

  17. Hope the positive momentum continues
    Hope not to see anymore negative and blaming comments here..

    Happy Ramazan

  18. The eye of the storm have passed, prepare for the real deal!

    Stupid Maldivians! Blinded by greed and ignorance. I sense trouble looming around the corner.

    G'day Morons!

  19. The main political parties in the Majlis have chosen the Supreme Court bench, much before a bill on judges and number of judges on the bench put to vote.

    According to the Constitution, the President with the consultation of the Judicial Service Commission is supposed to select his choice of candidates.

    The Majlis confirmed the choice of candidates chosen by them. Yes "a mockery of the Constitution" and the whole process is anti-constitution.

  20. Negotiation and compromise is a necessary process for any relationship to work and I am glad to see this happening between the executive and the opposition finally. Of course the DRPPA and their satellites (JP, DQP) is a force to be reckoned with. You would expect that a group that has ruled for 30 years will have their pods in every pie. You would also expect that a group who is used to having so much power and wealth would find it hard to consider sharing that with others as they have demonstrated in the last two years.
    Let us hope that this is a turning point for our political maturity as a nation.

  21. I hope MDP and DRP realize things are easier when they negotiate among themselves.
    Big thanks to Velizenee for her guts and courage.

  22. Nothing is going according to the constitution and we stupid maldivians are clapping for the "wonders" done by the president, parliament and supreme court.
    2 days ago TVM was rebranded as MNBC1, i wonder the board elected by the parliament was for what?

  23. funny, no other online media mentioned Ali Waheed's vote against the DRP whip. could it be, he is not so popular after all? tragic...

  24. This whole process is a farce, velizeeni might claim to be happy but the the constitution has been burned.The people of this country is being treated as ignorant bystanders by the Judiciary, Executive and Parliament. Nobody has asked the question of what to do with a parliament,Judiciary and the President all who have gone against the constitution. The people voted for a better change that rule of law will be followed yet what we see is a parliament hell bent on bringing this term to a short end and a president whose only thought is on securing the next 8 years with no respect to the people and log term planing. everyday the values that held this society together is being torn apart and the public are still naked and vulnerable as ever. When the major 3 parties negotiate and share the judiciary among themselves there will be nothing free and fair about it.Then everyone talks of a constitution crisis averted yet it was not as deadline and laws that needed to be passed are still pending. Why didn't the president lock the CSC and HRCM as well they have no grounds to attend many times did the president send letters of concern to parliament about the delay in passing much needed legislation.This country will only start to move forward when the Executive stands up and becomes a president of the country rather than rule from the corners of haruge which serves and has no place in this hopeless state of democracy. All elected politicians you are to serve the people whether they voted for you or not.

  25. I am still available to make peace between the parties, any problems My Maldives have I have the solution. I brought you Democracy, I brought you three Powers, I ruled for thirty years, No one can ever match the way I ruled my beloved people. I gave you Hulhumale' I,I,I, My, My, My..... MMMMeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  26. @hameed on Thu, 12th Aug 2010 11:55 AM

    And all those who are pessimistic and frightened of Constitution being not upheld.

    Allah Knows Best, & Allah is our protector, In Allah we should trust first. That is equal to = "Ikhlaas Therikan"

    .....& Let them serve the people! Given them time. What do you expect?

    In next election be honest to ourself and to the nation instead of our Ego.

    This is a good beginning yet again for Maldives. With God's will, Change is here, and so shall justice and security will be achieved, if we are truthful and honest in our duties & responsibilities.

    May Allah bless us all


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