The High Court has cancelled the scheduled hearing set to take place today concerning the case filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) contesting the legitimacy of the appointment of the three-member panel of judges in his trial.
The JSC has previously contested the High Court’s jurisdictionto rule on the procedural issues noted by Nasheed’s lawyers. The former President is being tried for his detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, prior to his controversial resignation in February 2012.
A High Court official confirmed to Minivan News that the hearing was cancelled but did not state a reason for the cancellation.
However, Nasheed’s legal team member Hassan Latheef told Minivan News the decision to cancel the hearing was made after the judge who was presiding over the case opted to “take leave” for the day.
“[High Court] officials called us and informed that the judge presiding over the case was on leave today, and therefore the hearing was cancelled,” said Latheef.
The cancellation of the hearing came just a few minutes before it was set to begin, much to the dismay of Nasheed, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s presidential candidate – who had cut short his campaign trip to Raa Atoll to appear for the hearing.
“We are very disappointed over the court’s decision which clearly shows its motive to obstruct Nasheed’s presidential campaign. Due to this [behaviour] Nasheed is barred from having the same opportunities as other candidates to campaign in the elections,” Latheef said, expressing his frustration over the cancellation.
During the last hearing in which both the parties argued over procedural issues, Nasheed and his counsel sought to clarify the JSC’s procedural points contending that they were not completely clear.
The High Court judges panel gave Nasheed’s lawyers the opportunity to ask the JSC’s legal representation for clarification, while posing additional questions regarding the same issue themselves.
They then stated that it was unclear why the JSC had asked for the counsel of the Supreme Court in deciding the composition of the bench, and the justification under which the JSC considered the Supreme Court’s counsel to be of the same legal weight as a ruling of the court.
In responding to the questions posed to them, the JSC revealed that the names of the magistrates they had sent to the Supreme Court for their counsel were not the names nominated by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.
The High Court bench questioned the JSC as to if there was a procedure in place which allowed for the assignment of judges to specific cases.
The JSC responded that there were certain circumstances in which judges can be assigned for specific cases, adding that the commission had done so previously in the past.
The bench further asked the JSC several times as to whether they considered the Supreme Court’s ‘counsel’ a ‘ruling’. The JSC’s legal team confirmed that they did.
The JSC’s legal representation stated that the Hulhumale’ Court Bench had been established under the counsel of the Supreme Court, and that this held the weight of a Supreme Court ruling.
Nasheed’s legal team contested this, stating that ‘counsel’ and a ‘ruling’ of the Supreme Court could not be considered to hold the same strength.
Upon receiving answers for some of the questions posed, Nasheed’s lawyers requested for more time to prepare a response, which the bench granted.
Request for intervention
Meanwhile, former MNDF Male Area Commander retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and his legal team have requested to intervene in the ongoing court battle between the former President and the JSC.
The retired Brigadier General is facing the same charges as Nasheed over the detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed during January 2011, which eventually led to a police mutiny and finally, the controversial resignation of Nasheed from the presidency.
Didi is represented by lawyer Ismail Wisham who previously lodged a case contesting that the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was set up in contradiction of laws dictating the formation of courts. The case was later taken over by Supreme Court which later endorsed the legitimacy of the much debated magistrate court.
In response to the request made by Didi, local media reported that the High Court had claimed it would allow the intervention as soon as it had ruled on the procedural issues raised by the JSC.