Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee is to summon all members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to attend the committee on Wednesday (March 20).
Members of the JSC are being summoned to face questions regarding the manner in which judges were appointed to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench.
Earlier this month, the JSC had informed Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid that the commission would not be held answerable to the oversight committee.
Despite the JSC Chair and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed declaring that the commission refused to discuss matters regarding the Hulhumale’ Court, individual members of the JSC later attended the committee meetings.
Oversight committee member and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said that the committee had received a total of 18 documents and recorded minutes from the JSC regarding the formation of the Hulhumale’ Court bench.
Citing the minutes from the meeting, Hamid said that a magistrate from Hulhumale’ court had originally proposed a bench of judges to the JSC on September 2, 2012.
Two days later on September 4, Hamid claimed that the JSC had met “in a panic” and had sent a letter to the magistrate telling him to “hold everything, we will tell you what to do”.
“The JSC went into this meeting and propose their own bench because they want their own people. Between 12.30 and 4.30pm on September 4 the JSC had decided on a new bench. The magistrates suggested bench was never even discussed,” Hamid told Minivan News.
The oversight committee member alleged that in “just four hours” the JSC had proposed a new bench, written to the Supreme Court and the Judicial Administrator and had received a response, “They got through six acts of documentation in just four hours”, he added.
In regard to the JSC minutes, Hamid stated that on September 10, 2012, a judge from “different judicial administration” sent a letter to the JSC under the heading ‘Is the Hulhumale’ Court Legitimate?’
“Once again the JSC went into panic mode and hold another meeting. According to the minutes, they start posing questions like ‘does he have the right to use the letterhead to write such things?’ while another member states the JSC needs to take disciplinary action against the man,” Hamid claimed.
Various members of the JSC have criticised the formation of Hulhumale’ court during the committee meetings held earlier this month.
Vice Chair of the JSC, Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi told the oversight committee that he did not believe the JSC could establish a court through a vote.
Ealier this month, when asked directly whether he believed the court to be a legitimate entity, Didi answered: “I am not saying it is a legitimate court. Then again, nor am I saying it is illegitimate. All I can say is I don’t believe it will be liquidated.”
“I can’t really recall the law too well but the JSC certainly cannot form a court,” he added.
Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who is also a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), told the committee he believed 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 to the committee.
“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.”
Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee is summon the JSC to be present at Wednesday’s meeting scheduled for 2.30pm.