Parliament reduces Supreme Court bench to five judges

The People’s Majlis has today amended the Judicature Act to reduce the seven-member Supreme Court bench to five judges.

The amendment proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef passed with backing from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and its ally Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

46 MPs voted in favor and 19 MPs voted against the amendment.

The MDP had issued a three-line whip against the proposal with opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed claiming the amendment would allow President Abdulla Yameen to stack the bench in his favor.

Shareef himself voted against the amendment.

MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – who has announced intentions to contest in the MDP’s 2018 presidential primary – voted for the amendment.

He previously described the formation of the current Supreme Court bench as a “shameful” political bargain between the MDP and then–opposition parties in 2010.

According to the amended Judicature Act, a Supreme Court judge can only be dismissed if the judicial watchdog body, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), decides they are unsuitable for the position.

The JSC must then submit names of the judges to be dismissed within three days of the amendment’s enforcement.

Judges can only be dismissed by a two-third-majority vote of the Majlis. The amendment gives the Majlis a period of seven days to dismiss the judges. Judges who fail the vote will remain on the bench.

The PPM and MDA control a combined 48 seats in the 85-member house.

Three judges sit on the ten-member JSC. They are Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed, High Court Judge Abdulla Hameed and Superior Court Judge Mohamed Easa Fulhu.

The amendments also propose the establishment of two additional branches of the High Court in the northern and southern regions of the Maldives.

The two new branches can only adjudicate the rulings of the magistrate courts. The nine-member High Court is to be divided among the three branches with three judges in each branch.

The Supreme Court has recently been involved in numerous controversies both in and out of the court room.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court used a ‘suo moto’ proceeding – allowing the Court to act as both the plaintiff and the judge – against the Elections Comission (EC).

EC president Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz were subsequently charged with contempt of court and disobedience to order, being sentenced to six months in jail after the court used testimony given in the People’s Majlis independent commission’s oversight committee.

More recently, the court employed a similar ‘suo moto’ proceeding against the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) after it criticised the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the UN Human Rights Council.

The court charged the HRCM with undermining the constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary.  It said that the UPR submission– based on a 2013 report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul – was “poorly researched”, “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.

Knaul’s report had detailed the pressing need for judicial reform, noting that the five-member transitional Supreme Court had been replaced by a seven-member permanent bench in 2010 with “no legal or constitutional basis”.

June this year also saw Judge Ali Hameed – a sitting judge at the Supreme Court – cleared of a sex tape scandal after three recordings surfaced allegedly showing Ali Hameed engaging in sexual acts with three different woman.


10 thoughts on “Parliament reduces Supreme Court bench to five judges”

  1. They are the Supreme Gods, not only of Maldives, but also the world.

    They know everything about everyone, and more importantly they know how the rest of world must live their lives.

    God bless our judges.

  2. Those who glorify the Human Rights defenders and belittle the Maldives should be well advised to read the US torture report out today.

    As a staunch critic of Maldives, it would would be interesting what Dr. Shaheed says about the US report.

  3. @Ali Rameez

    Show me a judge that can breathe life into the flesh of a dead man, then. 😀

  4. ..ofcourse there is no news of the US tourure report from the mightly human rights defenders in Maldives.


  5. Have you ever seen any fair judgement in Maldives.

    Yaamin and Adeeb controls the judges. Law can be over night changed in Maldives.

    No national policy. People are suffering like hell.
    Few enjoy while majority suffering.
    No local and foreign investments protected.

  6. The same people that criticize the US for torture are the same people that criticize the Maldives government for human rights abuses. I am one of them. 2 wrongs don't make a right. Maldives is not less guilty of systematically violating human rights just because other countries do it too. One big difference, as an American, I have freedom of speech. I'm allowed to criticize my government without being held in contempt of the "supreme" court for discussing factual events. So please stop distracting people with the blame game of "they do it too". You are still guilty! Torture of terror suspects is a bad thing. But so is having sex with minors, trafficking migrant workers, forced labor, and rape.

  7. The Act passed by Parliament is both unconstitutional, self-contradictory, amoral & bad for investors.

    It binds the JSC, President and Parliament itself to remove two SC Judges against the Constitution. The Constitution provides that an SC Judge can only be removed based on a finding of misconduct by the JSC. However, in this case, there is no finding of misconduct. What the Act embodies is a political decision to downsize the SC Bench.

    The Act requires the two judges dismissed as part of the downsizing to be awarded full privileges & pensions as if they had retired. However, in this case they are not retiring. They are being dismissed.

    One of the SC judges is suspected of being seen using the services of several prostitutes in a hotel room where he casually discusses his allegiance to political personalities. The decision to dismiss two other judges while letting him remain on the bench will shatter whatever little respect that the public has in the judiciary. It will also set an extremely bad example for the young who will lose whatever belief they have left in the concepts of justice or ethics.

    Bad for business:
    With the removal of Justice Mu'tasim Adnan, the SC Bench has lost it's one and only expert in the common law. This means that the entire judiciary will be guided by judges whose education and training is purely in Shari'ah. While Shari'ah itself possesses the potential to develop into an extremely viable system of law, the failure of Islamic states to practice Shari'ah outside the scope of personal & criminal law means that the Shari'ah is yet to develop a body of law that can guide commercial activity. This area of the Shari'ah is a work in progress. So those trained in the Shari'ah often lack the sensitivity to apply the law to commercial matters. Hence the need to have common law judges on the Bench. Without such persons on the all-powerful SC Bench, the judiciary will lack the guidance to develop itself as an institution that can cater to a progressive mercantile system.

    A sad day for us all.

  8. This is a black day and should be marked as such. The two sole qualified justices have been removed from the bench with scant regard to their loyal service, qualifications or integrity.

    President Nasheed was right all along. Maldivians will pay dearly for this for a very long time to come. Last time it was 30 years. Who knows how long the next phase will last!


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