JSC decision must be investigated by Parliament, urges member

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) decided last week to reappoint all current judges, regardless of whether they hold a previous conviction for a crime or a criminal breach of trust or bribery.

After the decision was made, member of the commission Aishath Velazinee spoke out against it, writing in her blog, “it is indeed a sad state of affairs, and an insult to all those honest judges whose integrity and good name is compromised by today’s decision.”

Today, Velazinee told Minivan News it might seem like “one mad woman screaming,” but insisted “the Majlis has to attend to this and demand a public inquiry. I can only bring it to public attention.”

She said “Parliament has failed to hold the JSC accountable,” and said she still “firmly believes” the composition of the commission presents a conflict of interest, leading to a vote that ultimately contradicting the purpose of the commission.

The JSC was created to reform the judiciary and investigate all judges, “and was asked to evaluate every single sitting judge appointed prior to the 2008 Constitution,” Velazinee said.

According to the Constitution, the nine-member commission must comprise of the speaker of parliament; an MP and a member of the public both appointed by Parliament; three judges, one from the Supreme Court, High Court and the trial courts; a private lawyer elected among licensed lawyers; the Chair of the Civil Service Commission (CSC); a person appointed by the President; and the Attorney General.

“The JSC was not functioning under the law of the Constitution, and not acting in the interest of the public,” said Velazinee, who is the President’s member on the Commission.

She suggested it be made up of a “cross-section of people in this country, who are educated and have an understanding of democracy.”

Last week’s decision was won by majority, with five votes in favour.

“They have decided Article 285 is symbolic,” Velazinee said, “it is a very simplistic view of democracy.”

Article 285 stipulates that the JSC shall determine before August 7, 2010 whether or not judges on the bench posses the qualifications specified by the Constitution.

Currently, there are seven judges found guilty of a criminal breach of trust; five with allegations of a criminal breach of trust; two are being prosecuted for an alleged breach of trust; one is on trial for sexual misconduct; two have been found guilty of sexual misconduct; one was found guilty for an offence which had a prescribed punishment in Islam; and another judge who has been accused of a criminal breach of trust, and found guilty of sexual misconduct.

That is a total of nineteen judges with a criminal history, most of which have not been tried in a court of law.

Velazinee said she was not given an opportunity to discuss or issue alternative proposals, even though she had been trying to bring attention to her argument for months. “Even the Superior Court Justice decided it was not worthy,” she added.

Parliament’s power

Parliament has the power to reverse or alter the JSC’s decision, “but now they’re in recess, too,” Velazinee said, noting probably nothing much can be done until the Majlis reconvenes in mid-June.

Adding to Velazinee’s concern, the JSC has only until 7 August of this year to submit any reforms and all cases on the judges. “And probably not even until the deadline,” she added.

She said although the president “would normally have a say” in this decision, “in the current political context, the president getting involved could do more harm.”

Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair, said “there are legalities to be considered” because “the law does stipulate a clause on limitations,” which says that a judge, or an MP or a citizen, “can be absolved of a crime after five years” of being convicted.

He added “judges should be examples” and new regulations and legislation should be considered.

Zuhair said President Mohamed Nasheed “will adhere to the Constitution,” and there is “nothing to do until Parliament comes back.”

But, he added, a parliamentary committee could look into the issue extraordinarily, just like the National Security Committee is having a sitting this Wednesday.

Judges Abdulla Mohamed and Abdulla Didi did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Attorney General Husnu Suood did not respond, either.


11 thoughts on “JSC decision must be investigated by Parliament, urges member”

  1. The article seem to me as a biased piece of news. Don't you see Velezinee acting Ultra Virus. She decided one day in a session that there were no solid evidence to sack the Chiefe Judge of the Criminal court, but the follwoien day she submit to sack the same Judge. I think Nasheed need to sack Velezinee, who is acting as a minor in the JSC and substitute with another person who is sound mind and conscious. She doesn't know scope, she doesn't know the challenges of the Judiciary, so better keep quite before begin sacked.

  2. She suggested it be made up of a “cross-section of people in this country, who are educated and have an understanding of democracy... and what makes Velizinee an 'educated person who has an understanding of the law'..or the one who should decide on composition of the JSC

  3. To correct some errors:
    In deciding standards a vote was taken only on the standard to measure Good Conduct and it was decided 4 to 4 with 8 members in attendance! I believe this would be considered a draw in normal circumstances, but when Conflict of Interest is the issue, it appears anything goes...
    And my suggestion on including people of the highest quality from amongst the legal community and judiciary is not for the composition of JSC, but for a Special Committee to hold a public inquiry into the matter of JSC's handling of Article 285.
    I believe the matter is of the highest national importance and demands immediate attention by the People's Majlis as judicial integrity holds the key to the future of the Constitution as well as national security.
    I am deeply saddened by the state of affairs at the JSC; and more by the lack of concern from those who can hold JSC accountable and ensure that the country and people get the judiciary of the highest integrity and calibre.
    Aishath Velezinee
    Member, JSC

  4. JSC is an independent commission, just like the Prosecutor Generals office, Anti-Corruption Commission, Elections Commission, Civil Service Commission, Human Rights Commission and the Auditor Generals Office etc.

    If the decisions of these offices are taken within their ambit, with the requisite quorum then the decisions are valid and the parliament cannot review their decisions and declare them invalid or reverse them or take charge of an independent institution that is not in their ambit.

    The only thing the parliament can do is, remove the members that they have appointed or elected in accordance with the constitution.

    And if a decision is made ultra virus or against the laws then that issue should be taken to the courts under the doctrine of "Judicial Review"


  5. Let us not question who Velezinee is and let us think about what she is saying? I truly do not believe that the spirit of the new constitution with it's new commissions and institutions is to wipe off the previous criminal records of judges and magistrates in charge of serving the public with a just judicial system.

  6. We ALL know that our judiciary is rife with corruption and yet we, as a nation (especially those in a position to make a change) have suddenly decided that we cannot do anything unless legally bound to do so. The spirit of the Constitution is mainly reformative and being a prescriptive document, its interpretation should not be held to be purely literal when and if those in power choose.

    The justices at the JSC are held accountable, anecdotally, for instilling corruption and creating a network of spies and favorites to deny any real reform within their sphere of influence.

    Reports on the Maldivian judiciary have invariably recommended that the Maldives consider placing foreign justices at the Supreme Court as NO ONE has the requisite experience and education to guide the judiciary in such a capacity. Why are we acting as if these reports were never produced? I call upon Hassan Saeed, who in his former capacity as Attorney General, oversaw the production of such reports to care about this country enough to lend a few words at the least in support of judicial reform. The same responsibility lies with Mariya Ahmed Didi and Aishath Azima Shukoor. However, one must mention that pragmatic politicians are always bound by realpolitik, and while there is no political unity in the national interest with regards to reform of Maldivian institutions one cannot be expected to have the freedom to act as if it were so.

  7. is anybody interested in quality of justice this country could provide to its people. none. not even the member who raised other concerns. imagine 4 years university trained lawyer or 8 to 10 years traind lawyer is supposed to go to a person with 6 months training to get a judgment for cases - the law society and learned judges should standup on this issue and prevent the country going backwards by 100 years.

  8. where are all those lawyers who stood up against jsc on behalf of suprem court earlier. when it comes to standingup on behalf of the people again, against jsc we do not even hear a wishper from those funnabu us lawyers. shame on you


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