Male’ City Council (MCC) Mayor ‘Maizan’ Ali Manik was summoned to the Criminal Court today to explain to the registrar what the court felt was an “impolite” letter sent to it by the council.
The letter in question had been sent to the Criminal Court by the MCC following the police’s request for a court order for the clearance of the Usfasgandu area.
The police had received instruction from the Home Ministry to clear the area after the MCC had refused to hand the land over to the government.
Manik explained that the reasons for his summons had been “nothing serious”, and that the registrar felt “the letter was too hard and contained no politeness.”
City Councillor Mohamed Abdul Kareem said the court had described the letter as “harassing”. Kareem told Minivan News that the court was not able to promise that it would not give the court order although it agreed that the case was a civil matter, rather than criminal.
He said that the court had confirmed that it would look into the court order, although he claimed that the court was in agreement with him that the case fell under the civil court’s jurisdiction.
The offending letter argued that the Usfasgandu issue did not relate to the criminal court and ought to be dealt with by the civil court. It also said that the issue could not be ordered without the MCC being notified and allowed to represent itself.
Manik said that he had apologised for the tone of the letter, explaining that the matter was particularly urgent: “That’s why the letter was so harsh”.
The MCC has vowed to resist the repeated attempts by the government to reclaim areas of the council given over to it as part of the decentralisation process pursued by the previous administration.
The MCC’s belief that these issues should be dealt with by the Civil Court saw it submit two civil cases today relating to its disputes with the government.
The first challenges the reclamation of the Usfasgandu area by the Housing Ministry, while the second addresses the larger issue of conflicting legislation that it feels has prompted the battles over jurisdiction.
Local paper Haveeru spoke with City Councillor Ibrahim Shujau regarding the submission of these cases.
“The [second] case is regarding the conflict between the Land Administration Regulation, followed by the Housing Ministry, and the Decentralisation Act, Constitution and the Land Act. Thus we have appealed at the court to abolish the regulation,” Shujau told Haveeru.
Last week, the MCC sent letters to the Maldives Police Service (MPS), the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and the Housing Ministry, informing them of its decision not to comply with cabinet’s decision to reallocate the plot to the Ministry of Housing.
However, Manik argued that the MCC would not resist if a court order was obtained.
“They have to get a court order. If they have a court order, we will comply,“ he said.
The Usfasgandu area is currently leased to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and is being used as the base of operations for their political activities. Most recently, these activities have consisted of weekly marches around the capital, attended by many thousands, protesting against the current government and calling for early elections.
The MDP’s previous base of operations at Lonuziyaaraiy Kolhu was dismantled by security forces on March 19. The government on this occasion acted without a court order, prompting legal challenge from the MDP.
The subsequent court case was first dismissed on a technicality and, after being re-submitted has once again been delayed for similar reasons.
When asked whether it was normal procedure to request a court order after a request from the Home Ministry, Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said that it depended on the case in question.
“We are trying to follow legal procedures. We want to make sure to follow law and order, to maintain peace. We understand that this is sensitive issue,” he said.
Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was not responding at time press.