High Court rejects former Human Rights Minister’s case contesting legitimacy of Waheed’s government

The High Court has rejected the case filed by the former Human Rights Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, requesting the court to rule that former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation was obtained under duress and the transfer of power on February 7, 2012 was illegitimate.

Rejecting the case, the court claimed it did not have jurisdiction to look into the matter.

Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru, the former SAARC Secretary General said that she and her legal team had been informed by the High Court that the case could not be looked into as it was beyond the court’s jurisdiction.

However, Saeed told Haveeru that she was of the view that High Court had the jurisdiction to look into the case.

She earlier stated that the constitution clearly mentions of the cases in which the Supreme Court can act as a first instance court but in other cases the High Court does have the jurisdiction to accept constitutional cases as a first instance court.

Speaking to media previously, member of Saeed’s legal team Ishraq Thaufeeg said that following legal review of the circumstances, the team had noticed several legal inconsistencies and lapses that suggested the transfer of power took place illegally.

He also said the  public still questioned the legitimacy of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s government, and that therefore it was important that a court of law decides on the matter.

Dhiyana Saeed, formerly a member of current President Mohamed Waheed’s cabinet and one of the earliest critics of Nasheed’s decision to detain Judge Abdulla, has also released a personal memoir explaining her interpretation of Waheed’s ascension to power. In the memoir, former SAARC Secretary General alleged that Nasheed’s political rivals had conspired to assassinate him.

Saeed alleged that the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7 was the result of a premeditated and well-orchestrated plan, and questioned the findings of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which had declared that there was no coup and Nasheed had resigned voluntarily.

Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee’s review of the report revealed several concerns including omission of key evidence and witness statements.

Chair of Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee, MP Ali Waheed, claimed the August 2012 report produced by the CNI was “flawed” based on the findings of the committee.

He added that many interviewed by the committee claimed the CNI report lacked “key information they had given [the CNI panel]” while “others claimed their information was wrongly presented”.

To support its claims, the parliamentary select committee released audio recordings of all the statements given by the witnesses. These included former police and military chiefs and officers, who claimed that Nasheed had no option but to resign.

Leaked statements to the CNI given by key witnesses of the events, including senior police and military officials, also suggested that the transfer of power took place illegitimately.

In the transcript of the statement given to CNI by MNDF Staff Sergeant Shafraz Naeem – the commander of the riot squad of the Bandara Koshi (BK) Battalion on the day – said that he also believed that Nasheed was ousted in a coup.

“In my view this was a coup. Why? I could see it from the way they handled everything, their attitude, how cool and calm all the officers were. I could tell from how cool General Shiyam was inside the MNDF. They did nothing. This is not how a uniformed officer should behave,” he told the CNI.

Meanwhile former President Nasheed told the CNI that he was forced to resign, as he believed his life was at stake on February 7 if he did not.

“In essence, my statement is very small. I was forced to resign. I resigned under duress. I was threatened. If I did not resign within a stipulated period it would endanger mine and my family’s life. I understood they were going to harm a number of other citizens, party members. They were going to literally sack the town. I felt that I had no other option, other than to resign,” he said.

On September 2012, following the release of the report, a legal analysis of the CNI’s report by a team of high-profile Sri Lankan legal professionals – including the country’s former Attorney General concluded that the report was “selective”, “flawed”, and “exceeded its mandate”.

“The report offends the fundamental tenets of natural justice, transparency and good governance, including the right to see adverse material, which undermines the salutary tenets of the Rule of Law,” observed the report.

The Sri Lankan legal team also contended that “there is evidence to demonstrate that there was in fact adequate evidence to suggest that duress (or even ‘coercion’ and/ or illegal coercion as used by CNI) is attributable to the resignation of President Nasheed.”

Saeed was not responding to calls at time of press.