The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – the state watch-dog of the judiciary – has today (December 12) decided to disregard the letter sent to the commission by the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain objecting to its decision to transfer judges between Superior Courts.
The letter, sent by Chief Justice Faiz on Tuesday to JSC Chair and fellow Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed, stated that the commission’s decision to shuffle superior court judges was not valid as the commission did not have the necessary legal authority.
JSC member MP Ahmed Hamza – the parliament’s representative to the commission – told local media today that the commission members had discussed the letter sent by the chief justice, but the majority held the view that the objections towards the decision lacked any legal grounds.
“Even under the constitution and the JSC Act, the commission is vested with the power to transfer the judges,” Hamza told local newspaper Haveeru.
Speaking to Minivan News, JSC Member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman confirmed that such the decision.
However, the Secretary General of JSC Abu Bakuru told Minivan News that “although the matter had been discussed by the commission members, the JSC has not yet formally made the decision”.
Chief Justice Faiz in his letter to JSC claimed that, although Article 159(a) gives the JSC the authority to appoint, promote or transfer judges other than those from the Supreme Court, it “must not be interpreted as an absolute right”.
Faiz also contended that the Judges’ Act mandated that any transfer of a judge from his appointed court can only be carried out following deliberation with the Judicial Council – the seven-member bench of the Supreme Court .
List of Transferees
The JSC had earlier decided to shuffle nine judges from the superior courts based in the capital Male’, including the Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed who was to be transferred to the Drug Court.
Judge Abdulla Mohamed has previously been under investigation from the JSC, for allegations of ethical misconduct and obstruction of corruption investigations among others.
Apart from Judge Abdulla Mohamed, the JSC had also planned to transfer Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaaz Fahmy and the Acting Chief Judge of Juvenile Court Mohamed Naeem to the Drug Court.
Meanwhile, Drug Court Judges Mohamed Easa Fulhu and Zubair Mohamed and the Family Court Judge Ibrahim Ali were to be transferred to the Criminal Court.
The JSC also decided to transfer Family Court Judge Hassan Shafeeu to the Civil Court and Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baaree Yoosuf – currently serving an indefinite suspension by the JSC following a case of sexually assaulting a female state prosecutor – was set to be transferred to the Juvenile Court.
Article 159(a) of the Maldives Constitution states that, “The Judicial Services Commission is entrusted with the responsibility and power to appoint, promote and transfer Judges other the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, and to make recommendations to the President on the appointment of the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court”.
Meanwhile Section 49 of the Judges’ Act 2010 refers to temporary transfer of judges from one court to another and states, “Temporary appointment of a Judge to preside over cases in a court will be decided upon by the Judicial Services Commission under the advice of the Judicial Council”.