The Judicial Services Commission has today recommended Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Musthasim Adnan be dismissed from the Supreme Court bench.
The decision comes within hours of President Abdulla Yameen ratifying an amendment to reduce the seven-member Supreme Court to five judges.
According to local media, several members of the judicial watchdog body boycotted today’s extraordinary meeting, claiming the amendment was unconstitutional.
JSC Secretary General Abu Bakr refused to provide details of today’s meeting stating the commission had decided to keep proceedings confidential until the Majlis reaches a decision.
According to the revised Judicature Act, the JSC must deem two of the seven judges unsuitable for the position within three days and the parliament must vote out the judges with a two-thirds majority of members present and voting within seven days. Dismissed judges will be provided a generous compensation package.
Article 154 of the Constitution says a judge can only be removed if the JSC finds a judge guilty of gross incompetence or misconduct.
Dismissal of the judges appear likely as the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) control 48 seats of the 85-member house.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP), who opposed the amendment, only control 23 and 12 seats respectively.
The amendment was proposed by MDP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef, but the MDP issued a three line whip against the proposal with opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed saying it would allow President Yameen to stack the Supreme Court bench in his favor.
JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim on December 2 called the amendment unconstitutional and an “atrocity.” He said the amendment will allow the executive and Majlis to change the Supreme Court bench at their whim.
Faiz and Adnan have formed the dissenting opinions in several controversial cases, including the decision to annul the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013.
Since then, the Supreme Court has been involved in numerous controversies both in and out of the court room.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court used a ‘suo moto’ proceeding – allowing the Court to act as both the plaintiff and the judge – against the Elections Comission (EC).
EC president Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz were subsequently charged with contempt of court and disobedience to order, being sentenced to six months in jail after the court used testimony given in the People’s Majlis independent commission’s oversight committee.
More recently, the court employed a similar ‘suo moto’ proceeding against the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) after it criticised the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the UN Human Rights Council.
The court charged the HRCM with undermining the constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary. It said that the UPR submission– based on a 2013 report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul – was “poorly researched”, “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.
June this year also saw Judge Ali Hameed – a sitting judge at the Supreme Court – cleared of a sex tape scandal after three recordings surfaced allegedly showing Ali Hameed engaging in sexual acts with three different woman.
The revised Judicature Act also propose the establishment of two additional branches of the High Court in the northern and southern regions of the Maldives.
The two new branches can only adjudicate the rulings of the magistrate courts. The nine-member High Court is to be divided among the three branches with three judges in each branch.