The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) is considering seeking a court order to compel the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to reconsider its decision to clear Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed of misconduct over his alleged appearance in three sex tapes.
Citing lack of evidence and the police’s failure to identify the individual in the sex tapes, the judicial watchdog decided last week that disciplinary action could not be taken against Justice Hameed.
In a press release today, MDN expressed “surprise” at the JSC investigating the case as a criminal offence as the commission’s constitutional mandate was investigating complaints involving ethical misconduct.
MDN noted that the evidentiary requirements or standards applied for establishing guilt in a criminal case differed from cases of alleged ethical misconduct.
The JSC’s “confusion” on this legal principle “offers room for the public to question the competence of the commission,” the MDN stated, calling on the oversight body to reconsider the case.
In a press statement explaining its decision, the JSC had noted that the police had closed investigations until new evidence emerged and that the sex tapes had been collected during an investigation into an attempt to blackmail a judge.
Moreover, the tape may constitute an act of espionage as it appears to have been filmed by an unauthorised body and it is against the constitution to obtain evidence by unlawful means, the commission noted.
The JSC – chaired by Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla – also referred to a contentious Supreme Court’s ruling on former Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, which stated that disciplinary action could only be taken with sufficient evidence.
Local media has since reported that the decision to clear Justice Hameed was reached unanimously by six members on the 10-member commission after Shuaib Abdul Rahman – public representative on the JSC – walked out.
The six members were Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi, High Court Judge Abdulla Hameed, president’s member Mohamed Faisal and lawyers’ representative Ahmed Rasheed.
The two remaining members – CSC Chair Dr Mohamed Latheef and Attorney General Mohamed Anil – were reportedly on holiday.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also put out a statement yesterday (June 29) condemning the JSC decision, characterising it as a “permanent stain” symbolising “serious wrongdoing”.
With the JSC decision, the statement added, Maldivian citizens expecting judicial reform have “lost all hope” along with any confidence in the judiciary.
The JSC decision has set a precedent suggesting that engaging in sexual relations with prostitutes, which is then made public in a sex tape, “is not a problem at all,” the opposition party stated.
“Therefore, we note with serious concern that this country’s judiciary would henceforth be shaped by those standards.”
The MDP statement also referred to a JSC subcommittee recommending suspending Ali Hameed, which the party stated was wilfully disregarded by the commission, as well as documents of a corruption case against the apex court judge being destroyed in a coffee spill.
The JSC had strayed from the standards established for investigating ethical misconduct, stalled the investigation for over a year, and “sacrificed the independence of the judiciary and the constitution” for the sake of protecting Justice Hameed, the statement continued.
The Maldivian judiciary should learn that disgraced judges accused of corruption and blackmail should be suspended pending the outcome of a swift investigation, the party stated.
The presence of a disgraced judge on the Supreme Court – who most citizens believe has lost his integrity – threatens the independence of the apex court, adversely affects decisions of lower courts, and robs Maldivian citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a free and fair trial, concluded the party.