The High Court has invalidated a Civil Court ruling ordering Male’ City Council (MCC) to hand over the MDP’s protest site to the government. The area was previously leased to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
Earlier this month, the Civil Court ordered Male’ City Council to clear the land plot and hand it over to the Housing Ministry. The MCC appealed the Civil Court ruling, claiming that the court had not given the council an opportunity to defend itself, making the ruling unlawful.
The High Court today ruled that the Civil Court had failed to follow legal procedures in its hearing of the case, concluding that its ruling at the time was unlawful.
Presiding judges Justice Azmiralda Zahir, Justice Yousuf Hussain and Justice Abbas Shareef all backed the verdict today. Following the High Court ruling, police removed the barricades on Boduthakurufaanu Magu behind the STELCO and reopened the Usfasgandu area.
The area was cordoned off by police late last month after the High Court issued a warrant requesting the area be kept under police custody until it reached on verdict on the case.
MDP protesters clashed with the police several times after they cordoned off the site.
Male’ City Council (MCC) leased the Usfasgandu area to the ousted ruling party in March 2012, prompting repeated attempts by the government to reclaim the area on the grounds it was being used for criminal activity, including the practice of black magic.
The MDP had moved to the area after a previous protest camp at the tsunami monument was dismantled and completely repainted by police and military on March 19, 2012.
On May 29, police raided the Usfasgandu site after obtaining a search warrant from the Criminal Court, ordering the MDP to vacate the area. The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) then began dismantling the protest camp.
The Housing Ministry filed a case with the Civil Court after MCC refused to hand the land plot to the ministry.