Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who is also a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), appeared before Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee on Tuesday to answer questions regarding the the appointment of a panel of three magistrates to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.
This panel of three judges were appointed to preside over the case against former President Mohamed Nasheed for his detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, and cases against other officials from the former government involved in the detention.
Prior to Shahid’s appearance, JSC Vice Chair Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi and member appointed to JSC from among the public, Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, have attended the committee over the same matter.
Meanwhile, JSC Chair Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed has refused to attend the committee on the grounds the matter is related to an ‘ongoing case.’
JSC acted outside its mandate: Speaker Shahid
Speaking at the committee meeting, Shahid stated that he believed that the judicial watchdog had acted unconstitutionally in assigning magistrates to a particular case.
“In deciding upon the bench, the JSC did follow its rules of procedures. As in, it was voted upon in an official meeting and six of the seven members in attendance voted on the matter. The seventh member being the Chair, does not vote in matters,” Shahid explained.
“However, whether it is within the commission’s mandate to appoint a panel of judges in this manner is an issue which raised doubt in the minds of more than one of my fellow members.”
Shahid then referred to the existing legal framework, quoting articles to back his statement that he did not believe the matter was within the responsibilities of the commission.
He quoted Article 21 of the JSC Act, Articles 48 and 49 of the Judges Act, and from the Judicature Act.
Article 21 of the JSC Act outlines in detail the responsibilities and powers of the commission.
Article 48 of the Judges Act states “A judge can be temporarily appointed to another court in the instance that the court is unable to sufficiently complete assigned work, or if the court has difficulties providing services, or if the judges serving in the court has been suspended from their duties. or if other circumstances which may cause a delay in the completion of work assigned to the court occur.”
Article 49 of the same act states “It is the Judicial Services Commission, with the counsel of the Judicial Council, which will come to a decision on the transfer of judges to oversee cases in other courts.”
Article 55 (a) of the Judicature Act states “In addition to the responsibilities assigned by other laws, the responsibilities of the Senior Judge of a superior court are the following: (a) Determine the Judges who would adjudicate the cases of that court.”
“None of these articles say anything about assigning cases concerning a particular individual to a specific set of people. The JSC is mandated with the appointment and transfer of judges. But it does not say anywhere here that the JSC holds the powers to assign cases to specific judges,” Shahid said.
“Hence, I do not believe that the appointment of a panel of magistrates to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate falls into the mandate of the JSC,” Shahid stated.
“The reason why I need to state this here is because the constitution explicitly guarantees the right to a fair trial to all individuals. When things proceed as they are going now, this is being compromised. So I must speak out,” he said.
Responding to a question posed by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Abdulla, Shahid said he did not “feel it was the right course of action” to remove then Senior Magistrate of Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court Moosa Naseem from the case after he had assumed responsibility for the case.
“Moosa Naseem, who was then in charge of the Hulhumale’ Court sent in his recommendations for magistrates who are to sit on Nasheed’s case to the JSC for comments. This list included his own name. The JSC then replaced all three of these magistrates. Do you feel this was done in the rightful manner?” Abdulla asked.
“I do not think removing Naseem was the right course of action. There should be a good reason to remove a judge from a case from which the judge has not recused himself. I think that is a good issue for this committee to further investigate,” Shahid responded.
Asked about the formation of the Hulhumale’ Court, Shahid answered that his summons letter had detailed that he would be asked specifically about the assignment of the panel, adding that therefore he felt it “unnecessary to even extend [his] thoughts” to any other topic.
“As Speaker of Parliament, you have been working with us 77 MPs for years now, in a very politically volatile environment. You are also one of the most senior council members of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), and we belong to your political opponent, MDP,” MDP MP Ali Waheed addressed Shahid.
“In these past few years, there have been times when we have acted very harshly against you. We even initiated a no confidence motion against you. Now to come back, you have just told us that you don’t think the assignment of the Hulhumale’ Court panel is legitimate. This is the panel which will be ruling on the presidential candidate of your political opposition,” Ali Waheed continued.
“My question to you is, under these circumstances, can you tell us in what light you see the events that are unfolding? Do you think the trial that is being conducted by this panel we speak of can be free and impartial?”
Shahid promptly responded that he did not entertain any political thoughts while serving as a JSC member.
“You have pointed out that I come from a specific political party, and you are right. Nevertheless, I was voted in as Parliament Speaker through votes cast by MPs from various parties. When I sit as speaker, I do not see any political action, and instead work as per the regulations and the constitution,” Shahid answered.
“I sit in the JSC because of my role as speaker, and hence as a rule, I have no right to harbour any political thoughts or mindset in the work I do there, nor will I do so,”’he said.
“In casting my vote in JSC or advocating for different matters in the commission’s meetings, the only focus I keep is on doing what is constitutionally mandated. Hence, even at a politically turbulent time, on a very politically contentious matter, I am sitting here in this chair and telling you that in my personal capacity I believe the JSC acted wrongfully in having appointed that panel,” Shahid repeated.
Chair of the Independent Commissions Oversight Committee Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed did not attend Tuesday’s committee meeting. He was also not present at the last two meetings of the committee where JSC members Abdulla Didi and Sheikh Rahman were summoned.
8 thoughts on “JSC acted unconstitutionally in assigning panel of judges to Hulhumale’ Court: Speaker Shahid”
Shaid is hoping that he can be the president of the interim government .
First these Mps need to respect the constitution and maintain some integrity themselves.
Privilege bills is classic example. The it has been drafted , we will ended paying 30-40% of the total income on these MPs.
They are going to get 30% of their salary even if they complete one term and even if people do not elect them for the second term .
They will be getting these benefits for life time just because they managed to fool the people for one time and they are getting the life time benefit of health insurance , traveling and housing benefits diplomatic pass ports and children health insurance , wives exec.
In 30 years , we will have over 600 MPs and ex Mps who will have been paid and looked after the by the state?
Why these MPs need to be given a different pension and health scheme . We already have a national health and pension scheme and they also need to fall into the same scheme and can not discriminate and elevate themselves higher than other civil servant.
But for those who are serving Mps, may some privileges like security can be given.
Shahid being on JSC panel, he is responsible for any action made by JSC and he was not given the member juts because of his name. He was appointed to be there and not take the money and go on holidays .
One no longer knows whether to laugh or to cry. Democracy is a long winding and tedious road. What we are perhaps learning is that no system has as yet the golden grail leading to equality, fraternity & freedom.
It did not take too long for the public to loose faith in the executive who had in just a few months turned its back on the electorate and morph into a mutant dictator willing to embrace all the instruments of corruption as if nothing had changed.
Now we are seeing the legislature demonstrating to what levels they can descend by the Parliament coming together to legislate to put Members of Parliament above natural laws of the land making a mockery of the concept of rule of law. Thus we are witnessing the spectacle of Parliament turning into a den of sex offenders, Drunks, drug dealers, Gang barons. Thus we have an impotent speaker condoning the most disgraceful scenes that you might see anywhere in the world.
As if that was not enough whilst the average salary of a person may be a few thousand these functionaries now legislate for themselves hundreds of thousands for themselves in entitlements for life - for their entire families.
Is it These types of injustices manifesting itself by the trampling of rights of ordinary masses by a privileged few; what offers the morale for things called revolutions and contraptions called the guillotine?
Under our eyes the Democratic reforms are being hijacked by these loud mouthed bearish thugs and the Fagin type baldies with only a scraggy beard missing.
I hate to say this but for sanity's sake look to the West and learn the many lessons they have to offer us. Maybe then we may stand the chance of claiming our Freedoms, our equality & fraternity.
Pray, tell me .... IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?
The Hulhumale'Court Judges refuse to take the case of President Mohamed Naseed in to the court the judges said this was not legal procedure.
The JAC remove the Judges of the court and fix a new bench the Judge's were brought from the Atoll courts and took the case inside the Hulhumale court.
@T on Thu, 14th Mar 2013 1:16 PM
"Under our eyes the Democratic reforms are being hijacked by these loud mouthed bearish thugs and the Fagin type baldies with only a scraggy beard missing."
Democracy works well when the median and mean of the population in terms of education, awareness and responsibility are not too far off each other. If you look at successful democracies, you can clearly see this in action.
A free vibrant media, together with large active civil society is the result of such development. We have none of this. As a result, our media is owned by the same politicians who are sitting in parliament, who in turn control all the wealth, who in turn control the judiciary, who control the media and it goes in a vicious circle!
This is a huge mess. The common man has no chance of getting anywhere in this system. We are even at a worse state than when we had to be Gayyoom and his family for favours. Now, unless you bow to a Gasim, or a Shiyam or a Champa, you stand no chance of getting anywhere in this society. Just take a good look at the man sitting in the President's chair. Does he have a voice? Of course not! He responds to the strings being pulled by the aforementioned names.
What's the solution? Only the people have the power to change this mess.
Stupid SOB. instead of pointing fingers why don't you start acting within the law. This bloody SOB's family raped the nation during the previous regime, continues to put his finger in all major corruption cases, and then acts likes a white angel.
This is the reason why Maldives future is bleak!!!
@ Ahmed bin ...
You certainly have a point. The oligarchs or whatever one calls them in one way or another buy influence and run the show. A free press post Sept 11 has been exposed to fall short of the ideal and its limitations are too well documented to be ignored.
What we have happening in Maldives is the total denial of the electorate that elects their representives. This could only happen if that electorate is not willing to take to task errant representatives. Why is this so? I do not believe that it's a lack of education, awareness or taking responsibility. Maldivians are. Incredibly well informed, quite aware but still so apathetic.
Is it something to do with their perception of religion n fatalism? If so where lies the solution?
The bench of the Hulhumale Magistrate Court, as we all know, is an unconstitutionally elected bench.
There is no need for anyone to rule this out or interpret this; not even the Supreme Court!
If what took place regarding the current bench of the Hulhumale Magistrate Court was an error or anything else, that happened howsoever; Correct it immediately!
Reverse the action by allowing JSC to comment, as the Constitution say, and let Judge Naeem decide as stipulated in the Constitution!
Parliament dissolve the JSC and appoint a fresh, and upright Judiciary Commission that can prove it self to be that which will act in accordance with the mandate they are supposed to work!
Shaahid is a stupid SOB, a power hungry corrupt slave of Money. He can do or say anything. For Shahid it's time to go home. Gaumee Harakath will not stop short of the Resignation of Shaahid.
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