MDP demands Supreme Court bench be replaced, inclusion of educated foreign judges

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s National Council has passed a motion calling on its parliamentary group to seek to abolish the existing Supreme Court bench and replace it with a new panel of judges, including foreign judges.

The call was made following the Supreme Court’s controversial rulings on Thursday overturning decisions made by parliament.

The Supreme Court had overturned parliament’s removal of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan on sexual harassment charges, and a decision to conduct no-confidence votes through secret ballot.

During an emergency national council meeting held on Sunday evening, the proposal by MDP national council member Mohamed ‘Sanco’ Shareef received unanimous support from all attending members, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“The Supreme Court is acting in such a fashion that it has now begun overtaking the powers of the parliament and in the process undermining the constitution of this country. [Therefore] this motion calls on MDP’s parliamentary group to make formal requests to parliament to immediately abolish the current bench of Supreme Court and establish a new bench that consists of honest judges.

“Also as the Maldives Constitution does not bar the Supreme Court having foreign judges, [this motion also calls] to seek qualified and educated judges from abroad,” read the motion (Dhivehi).

During the debate on the motion, MDP’s Parliamentary Group and Parliament’s Majority Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih described the day of the verdicts as the darkest day of Maldives’ 80 year long parliamentary history.

Solih said the Supreme Court had significantly undermined the legislative power of the state by openly challenging parliament’s power to decide on its own affairs and the bills passed by the parliament.

The Hinnavaru Constituency MP assured the council that the party’s parliamentary group under his leadership would do everything at its hand to ensure the dissolution of the existing Supreme Court bench.

“Shocking verdicts”

Speaking during the debate, former President Mohamed Nasheed expressed his support for the motion claiming that it was time to change the Supreme Court bench, as it was delivering “shocking” verdicts.

Nasheed recalled several controversial decisions made by the Supreme Court, such as its decision that eight of former President Gayoom’s political appointees be paid MVR 500,000 (US$32,425) each in compensation after Nasheed replaced them.

The Supreme Court also ruled in favour of the legitimacy of Hulhumale Magistrate Court, created by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), after the JSC’s head – Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed – made the casting vote.

“It is more important that we have justice established in this country rather than myself being elected as the President. To reform the judiciary and bring the justice system of this country into the right course is something I must do,” he said.

“We will come out to the streets, we will protest. I will not take a single step back until the bench is replaced with better judges,” Nasheed vowed.

Nasheed claimed that Supreme Court had attempted to silence lawyers, by forcing them to sign a declaration which requires them to not to comment on court rulings if they want to keep their licenses to practice law.

The former President also alleged the Supreme Court was employing deceitful tactics by tempering its own verdicts before these were being made available to public.

“We know how they issue the verdict and we know how different it is on the paper to that which is made available to the public. The two versions of the verdict differ significantly. This is something I am very concerned about,” he said.

Nasheed – who has written books on the country’s history – said that Maldives had followed a “tradition” in which “the people come out to sort the problems within the court when judges go out of line in sentencing”.

Spokespersons for the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) were not responding to calls at time of press.

Controversial rulings

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that Fahmy would receive two punishments for the same crime if he was convicted at court following his dismissal by parliament (double jeopardy). Following the judgment, Fahmy would be reinstated and compensated for lost wages since December 2012.

Delivering the judgment, Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Saeed said that a person should be considered innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law and was entitled to protect his reputation and dignity.

Fahmy was alleged to have to have said to a female CSC employee that “it is not appealing when unmarried girls like you get fat”, whilst touching her on the stomach.

In November last year, parliament voted 38 – 32 to remove the CSC chair after the Independent Institutions Committee investigated a complaint of sexual harassment lodged by a female employee of the CSC.

On Thursday in its ruling on the secret ballot, the majority of the judges contended that the move contravened article 85 of the constitution as well as parliamentary principles and norms of free and democratic societies.

Article 85 stipulates that meetings of the Parliament and its committees must be open to the public.

Dissenting opinion

Meanwhile, Justice Ahmed Muthasim Adnan – the only Supreme Court justice with a background in common law – issued dissenting opinions in both cases.

On the constitutionality of the secret ballot, Justice Adnan noted that article 101(f) of the constitution states that “the regulations governing the functioning of the People’s Majlis shall specify the principles and procedures concerning a resolution to remove the President or Vice President from office as provided in this Constitution.”

Unless a clause added to the regulation was explicitly in violation of the constitution, Justice Adnan said that he believed it “could not be challenged in any court in the Maldives.”

He further noted that while article 85 of the constitution requires parliamentary proceedings to be open to the public, 85(b) states that a majority of MPs present and voting could decide to exclude the public or press “if there is a compelling need to do so in the interest of public order or national security.”

Moreover, article 85(c) states, “Article (b) does not prevent the People’s Majlis from specifying additional reasons for excluding the public from all or any part of a committee meeting of the People’s Majlis.”

He added that the secret ballot would be taken at a sitting open to the public.

In the case submitted by Fahmy contesting his dismissal, Justice Adnan’s dissenting opinion noted that article 187(a) of the constitution authorised parliament to remove members of the CSC “on the ground of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.”

Article 187(b) meanwhile states, “a finding to that effect by a committee of the People’s Majlis pursuant to article (a), and upon the approval of such finding by the People’s Majlis by a majority of those present and voting, calling for the member’s removal from office, such member shall be deemed removed from office.”

Justice Adnan argued that an inquiry by a parliamentary committee into alleged misconduct would not be a criminal investigation. Therefore, he added, the oversight committee would not be required to prove guilt to the extent required at trial before making a decision.

He further noted that parliament’s dismissal under the authority of article 187 and a possible conviction at a late date could not be considered meting out two punishments for the same offence.


19 thoughts on “MDP demands Supreme Court bench be replaced, inclusion of educated foreign judges”

  1. Ofcourse MDP wants foreign and local atheist, who hates any person believing in a divine law to be in any post. But the sad fact of the matter is MDP fool the ordinary public. Look at MDP member at large, close to 80% of women wear burga and around 50% regularly pray. Only those very close and a secret group with in like Mariya, Sarangu Adam Manik are those who deny God! So I wonder where the joke is.

  2. Educated yes, foreign no. This is a sovereign nation, and our problems and our matters should be dealt with ourselves, whichever means necessary.

    The current bunch of judges are corrupt and lacking of either common sense or much education, there are enough educated maldivians who are coming back from attending universities abroad, and they might not be perfect, but giving them the chance they will become more experienced and will turn out good

    I really do not agree with their practice of bringing in external influence, reforms proposed my MDP are important and necessary, but with so much external hands over here, might as well stop declaring ourselves as a country, and become an experimental plaything for certain nations exporting their brand of democracy

  3. Damn,

    Education does not make one less of a fool, much like our very educated Bagee, now Bakee President has proven. The deal with the devil was done without foresight and now the devil has come to calling to claim. Similarly, with their blatant disregard for justice and with their hegemonic bias, our Supreme court bench is risking itself.

  4. Employing foreign legal experts in the Maldives is absolutely necessary, if we are to bring about the judiciary that we all desire within an acceptable time frame. We should be able to find suitable candidates trained in Sharia Law who are recognised experts at international level.

    This is not a question of foreigners meddling in our affairs. I find it ironic that when most Maldivians are actually taught by mostly foreigners! Do you label the employment of foreign teachers as "meddling in our affairs" by foreigners? How about foreign managers and other staff at our hotels and so on? As I understand, even the current regime, after having thrown out GMR are looking foreign experts to run the airport.

    I'm quite certain that those who shout about foreigners meddling in our affairs are precisely those who do NOT want to see our justice system overhauled so it serves the public. They will use that excuse to prolong the injustice system we have.

  5. People can contemplate and can have wishful thinking of Maldives having a fully functional democracy with a judiciary who can deliver justice to its people. This is like bringing stars from the sky.

    Maldivians with kind of culture and brain conditioning they live through will never be able get education and grasp the merit of what they are learning. Maldivian don’t get education to develop their brains, Maldivian study and get qualification to get recognition and respect in the society in the same manner patriarchal societies functioned, the masculinity replaced by degree holders.. Educated Maldivian sounds like educated chimps.

    Anni and few MDPS know it well and they are probably hoping to bring a change from radical approach which is definitely impossible. Maldivian with such nationalist mentality coupled with religious fanaticism and ignorance and super egocentric psyche, xenophobic would never compromise to accommodate foreigners to sit in their Supreme Court bench.

  6. a clear example of radical extremist MDP mentality... MDP should moderate themselves and work towards democracy by listening what the majority wants - not what you want.

  7. Look, guys, this is all very simples...

    The whole Maldivian economy is in foreign hands. You don't believe me? Who owns the resorts and the billions of dollars they receive?

    Similarly from the doctors, teachers, other health professionals down to street cleaners, it is foreigners who are doing the work! The fact that MDP has highlighted an obvious improvement to the judiciary has everyone jumping up and down.

    It seems that @Bin Ladin on Tue, 19th Mar 2013 7:13 PM does have a point. Maldivians never think through, but jump to conclusions based on their coloured view of their small little world. Guys, wake up to reality.

  8. @fathimafulhu on Tue, 19th Mar 2013 4:04 PM

    "... who hates any person believing in a divine law to be in any post."

    Divine law? That's a contradiction in terms! Where did that "divine law" come from? Have you really thought about what you are talking about? Perhaps, I'm wrong, but I don't think you have.

  9. Which of these responsibilities and duties are the leaders of the Maldivian Democratic Party and the People’s Majilis adhering to in their efforts to advance the society.

    Article 67 of the Constitution
    The exercise and enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of responsibilities and duties, and it is the responsibility of every citizen:
    (a) to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of others;
    (b) to foster tolerance, mutual respect, and friendship among all people and groups;
    (c) to contribute to the well-being and advancement of the community;
    (d) to promote the sovereignty, unity, security, integrity and dignity of the Maldives;
    (e) to respect the Constitution and the rule of law;
    (f) to promote democratic values and practices in a manner that is not inconsistent with any tenet of Islam;
    (g) to preserve and protect the State religion of Islam, culture, language and heritage of the country;
    (h) to preserve and protect the natural environment, biodiversity, resources and beauty of the country and to abstain from all forms of pollution and ecological degradation;
    (i) to respect the national flag, state emblem and the national anthem.

    I contend the leadership of the MDP are blatantly in constant violation of the first six points and others are blindly following their lead in the name of democracy. This is no democracy, this is mobocracy by a group of hooligans that only knows to disseminate lies and half truths for the advancement of their lame causes!

    Why doesn’t the Majilis vote to abolish the Constitution altogether rather than constantly show their disregard of it?

    If there are Maldivians in the MDP that seek TRUE Democracy why don’t they separate themselves from this lawless party and condemn their (MDP) actions?

    Yes democracy works when it is accepted and carried out in a civilized manner respecting the rights of ALL the people. The rights of most Maldivians are being trampled on daily by a party claiming to be the answer to democratic values.

    The people of the party are led like sheep to slaughter all in the name of democracy. This HATRED and DISREGARD for others cannot go on if you truly seek to establish real democratic values.

    The real strength lies in those that TRULY value what REAL democracy can bring to your country. I challenge you, you know who you are, to abandon this mob mentality that will surely lead to further destruction, become the majority that seeks to respect THE CONSTITUTION, their fellow man and join together forming a legitimate democratic movement respecting the law promoting peace, harmony and the respect for every citizen of Maldives. YOU CAN DO IT! SEEK OUT THE RESPECTABLE LIKE MINDED LEADERS AMONG YOU AND CHOOSE TO ADVANCE TRULY LEGITIMATE DEMOCRACTIC VALUES FOR YOUR COUNTRIES SAKE!

  10. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb
    Its shame you don't know divine laws. Start with Jewish holy book Torah, then look at Bible and also Quran. Further look at Hindu holy book the Ramayana. Try to identify whats common in all these books. If you cannot, then ask a five year old, about murder, bribery, thief, consumption of alcohol, drugs, controlling gangs, abusing children and women etc. I am sure a five year kid can teach you most of it.

  11. Lets get this very clear.MDP needs foreign experts just because there are no educated legal experts in the MDP and the educated of the country do not support MDP's policies.So only THEY need foreign experts,the others are not runnning helpless and begging.

    but to be frank, people here like @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb should be ashamed of themselves.We have a rich histroy and perhaps its been too long since we have been invaded or oppressed by foreigners.Guess thats y these guys dont understand what nationalism is.THis country is a gift given to us by our forefathers and a gift we have to give our children.we have no problem with foreigners coming as tourists or for jobs in the emplayment sector but we cant bring foreigners to make RULINGS over us and interpret our laws as THEY want.This is our house and we are more than capable of handling it.MDP is mocking the thousands of mothers and fathers who had reluctantly sent their children aborad for education and made them graduates despite the meager income and skyrocketing prices every year.GRanted, that the economy and everything is controled by foriegners but its the people who are acting as politicians on all sides who made these deals with the devils so they could rule over us.BUt we common Maldivins have been ruled,dictated and opressed for centuries but we never held grudge against these people and forgive them,for after all they are our brothers and its our religion that teaches us that status and wealth is given by Allah and we respect that cause we love our country and we derive pleasure from every sunset and sunrise,every waving plam tree ,every cowrie shell lying on the white sandy beaches and every wave from the sea coming calling at us reminds us of the hardwork of our forefathers and we knw what they want.Thats why we have always remained indomitable.

  12. We need a foreign president as the head of state, also Majlis Members from UK, France, Italy, Germany, also specially from Israel!! Why? Becoz Nasheed, Gayoom, Waheed all failed!!!!

  13. It is ticklish idea, if not outrageous. The intent in promoting the idea may be noble, but surely there are adequately trained local legal minds with intellectual capacity to handle the nature of cases litigated in this society.
    I think, the method of vetting of institutions, including the judiciary need to be revisited. That will require relooking into the Constitution.
    Perhaps, we need to amend the provisions of Constitution relating to JSC, make it more independent and accountable to parliament.
    Furthermore, as an interim measure, I think we need to revisit the tenure of the judges as well. Perhaps, the SC bench need to be fixed for a short term, before making a judge permanent, in order to understand the legal and judicial philosophy and integrity of the judges before he or she becomes a permanent judge.

  14. Even a foreigner is better than these child-abusing 'judges' we have now.

  15. @Maldivian Man
    Even a extreme poor person in Indian street will be better than President Nasheed, Gayoom etc


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