Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy today submitted a parliamentary motion aimed at blocking the country’s courts from issuing rulings preventing their own watchdog body from taking disciplinary action against judges.
The motion follows a recent decision by the High Court to uphold a civil court injunction preventing the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from taking action against Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed until a final verdict was reached at the Civil Court.
Judge Abdulla was a central figure in the downfall of former President Mohamed Nasheed after he was detained by the military. Abdulla’s controversial detention was made after the government accused him of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, links with organised crime and “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights and corruption cases.
Abdulla Mohamed obtained the injunction against his investigation by the judicial watchdog in September 2011 after it produced a report stating that he had violated the Judge’s Code of Conduct by making politically biased statements in an interview he gave to private broadcaster DhiTV.
According to the motion submitted today by MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, it is unconstitutional for a superior court to rule on a cases pertaining to the JSC’s decisions, as well as to prevent the commission from performing its statutory obligation to investigate and take action against judges.
Fahmy argued that allowing the courts to defy the JSC’s decision contravened the purpose of establishing the court watchdog as an independent institution in the first place. He argued that such a decision violated the system of checks and balances designed to ensure separate powers of state.
Fahmy also observed that the parliament cannot remove the judge from a bench while a case concerning the matter is at court and noted that it would be an obstruction to parliament’s duty as well.
Several pro-government MP’s challenged the motion, citing the judge had not been convicted of any offence and must not subjected to unfair treatment or intimidation.
Former President’s member on the JSC and whistle-blower Aishath Velezinee for several years contended that Abdulla Mohamed was a central, controlling “father figure” in the lower courts, answerable to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. She also claimed the judge was a key figure responsible for scuttling the independence of the judiciary under the new constitution.
Allegations against the judge, which date back to 2005, include misogyny, sexual deviancy, throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused, political bias, obstruction of police duty, disregarding decisions of high courts, deliberately holding up cases involving opposition figures and barring media from corruption trials. He also stands accused of ordering the release of suspects detained for serious crimes without a single hearing, maintaining “suspicious ties” with family members of convicts sentenced for dangerous crimes, and releasing a murder suspect “in the name of holding ministers accountable” who went on to kill another victim.
In one instance, Abdulla Mohamed was accused of requesting that two underage victims of sexual assault act out their attack in court in front of the perpetrator.