The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has proposed a bill to amend the Courts Act (22/2010) which would reduce the number of judges on both the benches of the Supreme Court and High Court if passed.
In a press released issued by the party’s parliamentary group, amendments have been proposed to article 5 and article 27 of the Courts Act which dictates the number of judges on the benches.
The first amendment proposes changing clause (a) of the article 5 of the Courts Act, reducing the Supreme Court bench to five judges inclusive of the chief justice. The amendment would also dissolve clause (a) of the article 16 in Judges Act (Act 13/2010).
The second amendment proposed reducing the High Court bench to seven judges, inclusive of a chief judge.
The current Supreme Court has a bench of seven judges, including the chief justice, while the High Court consists of nine judges including the chief judge of the High Court.
The bill also states that once it is passed and ratified, the judges for the Supreme Court and the High Court should be reappointed within 30 days.
MDP Spokesperson and MP Imthiyaz Fahmy stated that the bill was proposed because the ruling party believes that the Supreme Court and the High Court have been inefficient in finishing cases, and that it is not feasible to have a large bench of judges if the efficiency of the courts were below expected standards.
“Only 31 percent of the cases submitted to the Supreme Court in 2008 were actually finished while the remaining 69 percent remained pending. In other countries with similarly-sized benches the same number of judges finish more than 90 cases annually,” Fahmy said.
Fahmy also said that the MDP is not seeking to remove specific judges from the bench,and that instead the intention was purely to reform the judiciary and ensure the people had free and fair access to justice.
The MDP was confident that the bill would pass despite neither the opposition or the ruling party having an absolute majority, Fahmy said.
Prominent lawyer Ali Hussain raised doubts about the sincerity of the MDP parliamentary group’s decision considering the timing of the proposal. Hussain claimed the government had a majority in the JSC and the parliament for six months [referring to the 16th parliament which ended its term in February 2009 after the general elections] and had done nothing to reform the judiciary.
Independent MP for Kulhudhuhfushi, Mohamed Nasheed, was reported saying in the local media that the bill to amend the Act was an attempt by the government and the ruling MDP to intimidate the current sitting judges of courts of the Maldives. Fahmy denied the claims.
The MDP recently launched a campaign to reform the judiciary. The government subsequently took Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed into military custody maintaining that Judge Abdulla posed a threat to the wellbeing of the society.
Tempers have flared across the capital Male’ with an ongoing series of opposition-led protests calling for the government to uphold the constitution and release the chief judge.
5 thoughts on “MDP proposes bill to reform judiciary, reappoint higher courts”
This is not reform but an attempt at moulding the judiciary to MDPs needs. Cheap shot typical of a drowning regime.
How stupid can one get?
The bill effectively removes judges which contradicts Article 154 of the constitution, which states that a if the Judiciary Service Commission believes that a judge should be removed, then the commission should submit the name to the parliament by which the parliament requires 2/3rd majority of votes to remove the judge.
Even if the bill is passed it would be void, the interim supreme court was appointed till the supreme court was appointment, hence the interim supreme court dissolved itself but once the supreme court and the high court got established, there is absolutely NO WAY to do that other than as mentioned in the constitution.
The parliament can decide the number of judges to sit at the higher courts, but will have to wait till a judge vacates the seat or remove judges as per the constitution and then reduce the number, there is no other way to reduce the number, it directly conflicts article 154 of the constitution.
There are many similar bills that can be passed
1. Pass a bill which reallocates the constituent areas and ask the elections to hold a parliamentary elections within 30 days from passing the bill?
2. Pass a bill which states that president should be reaffirmed and hence a presidential elections should take place within 30 days of passing the bill?
They are all similar to the bill proposed by MDP but it conflicts with the constitution it would and thus be void, and it would be struck down.
Article 143 (a) of the constitution would establish the order.
This is major reconstructive surgery and long overdue. We need this for the sake for the nation!!!
Z, think for yourself, when anyone says we need to do something illegal and unconstitutional for the sake of the nation, the means never justifies the end! This is paving the way for the establishment of a dictatorhsip, far worse than we have evr seen. Jahaa haa berakah neshun huttaalaafa, amilla budhdhi beynun kuraa nama dhivehin dho
One way to move ahead. I think this is the best formula to go ahead.
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