The High Court has invalidated the decision of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to rule it did not have the jurisdiction to proceed with lawsuits pressing charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed and certain defence figures serving under him.
The Prosecutor General (PG) initially submitted the cases against the Former President, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim and three Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers for their alleged role in the “unlawful detention” of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
The High Court ruling stated the case was based on the “unlawful detention” of a person, adding that magistrate courts have the jurisdiction to proceed with such cases.
The ruling also said that as the incident occurred in Male’ area, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court again had the jurisdiction to proceed with the case.
On July 18, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court rejected a case filed by the Prosecutor General’s (PG’s) office against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim as well as three other senior military officers over the arrest of the judge.
Hulhumale’ Court Magistrate Moosa Naseem told Minivan News at the time that the case was sent back to the PG’s Office after the court decided that it did not have the jurisdiction to deal with such cases.
“We studied the case and we found that we do not have the jurisdiction to deal with the case according to article 66 of the Judicature Act,” Naseem explained.
According to the Judicature Act, Naseem said, the Hulhumale’-based court can only accept the case after the Chief Justice issues a decree in agreement with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Judicial Council as stated in the article 66(b) of the Act.
Article 66(b) of the Judicature Act states that: “in accordance with section (a) of this article, if additions or omission to the jurisdictions stipulated in schedule 5 of this Act has to be carried out, the modification has to be done in agreement with the Judicial Service Commission and the Judicial Council and by a decree issued by the Chief Justice.”
On January 16, Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was detained by the military, after he had opened the court to order the immediate release of former Justice Minister, current Home Minister and deputy leader of the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
In late 2011, Judge Abdulla was himself under investigation by the JSC, the country’s judicial watchdog, for allegedly politically biased comments made to private broadcaster DhiTV. The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) was due to release a report into Judge Abdulla’s ethical misconduct, however the judge approached the Civil Court and successfully filed an injunction against his further investigation by the judicial watchdog.
The Nasheed administration accused the judge of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases and links with organised crime, describing him as “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 in January, leading the Nasheed administration to appeal for international assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.