Latheefa Gasim elected to represent lawyers on JSC

Attorney Latheefa Gasim won yesterday’s polls to elect a lawyer to represent the legal community on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Latheefa won the polls with 238 votes while her closest contender, former Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, secured 163 votes.

In mid-August, the AG Office postponed the election for a second time after the Supreme Court struck down section 11(a) of the regulations enacted for conducting the polls, which state that polling mechanisms would be established on inhabited islands with at least five registered voters.

The apex court had declared that all licensed lawyers eligible to vote in the elections – including magistrates of island courts – should be able to do so anywhere in the country without registering.

The order prompted the AG Office to repeal the procedural regulations as the “essence” of the annulled clause was assuring “secrecy of the ballot”.

Latheefa had previously served on the JSC as former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s member on the 10-member judicial oversight body.

Shameem meanwhile thanked voters on Twitter following the polls and expressed gratitude for support despite “nonstop rain, flooding and difficulties in communication.”

Among the other contestants, Mohamed Faisal received 63 votes, Anas Abdul Sattar received 19 votes, and Rusdhulla Ibrahim got 10 votes.

The AG Office had enacted new regulations (Dhivehi) in line with the Supreme Court order (Dhivehi). Lawyers and magistrates in other islands were allowed to vote via fax from a polling station arranged by the AG Office.

Once the faxed ballot paper with the name, signature and fingerprint of the voter is received by the AG Office, an election official at the office was to omit the section with the name and cast the ballot into a ballot box in Malé.

After withdrawing his candidacy, lawyer Mohamed Fareed had objected to judicial interference in the election following an earlier Supreme Court’s ruling allowing all licensed lawyers, including sitting MPs and judges, to vote in the election.

“The belief that an election in the Maldives may proceed without Supreme Court interference is against the facts, reality. This is the reality now,” he said at a press conference.

With voting mechanisms set up on every island, magistrates would be forced to vote for the judiciary-backed candidate Latheefa Qasim, he suggested.