The Prosecutor General’s (PG) office has pressed corruption charges against Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed over the illegal transfer of credit from his state-funded mobile phone in 2010.
A media official from the Criminal Court told Minivan News today that the court has yet to make a decision on hearing the case.
Cases filed by the PG office are scrutinised in the order of submission “to make sure all the paperwork is complete and that there are no missing documents,” he explained.
The process normally takes “two to three days,” the media official said.
The case against Justice Hameed – accused of abuse of authority to benefit a third party – was sent to the PG office in July 2013 by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) after investigating allegations in the 2010 audit report of the Department of Judicial Administration.
Auditors found that a Supreme Court Justice transferred MVR2,223 (US$144) from his state-funded mobile phone on different occasions during 2010.
According to the audit report, the interim Supreme Court bench on October 23, 2008 decided to provide for each justice “a post-paid line, a phone and to pay the phone bill without a set limit out of the court’s budget”.
“From October 2008 to December 2011, a total of MVR281,519.71 (US$18,256) was spent on phone bills,” the report stated.
After the sex tapes of Hameed engaging in sexual relations with three prostitutes in a Sri Lankan hotel room surfaced in May 2013, the judicial oversight body, Judicial Services Commission (JSC), set up committees to investigate the case twice – in May and December 2013.
Both subcommittees unanimously recommended the JSC suspend Hameed pending an investigation.
Meanwhile, the 2010 audit also discovered that MVR13,200 (US$856) was spent out of the apex court’s budget to repair a state-owned car used by an unnamed Supreme Court Justice, later revealed in the media to be Justice Hameed.
According to the police report cited by auditors, the driver of the justice’s car was responsible for the accident, which occurred on January 23, 2011.
However, the official driver insisted the car was undamaged when he parked and left it the previous night.
Despite the findings of the audit report, in March 2011 the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of corruption reported in local media regarding phone allowances and use of court funds to repair Justice Hameed’s car.
Moreover, in September 2011, the ACC began investigating allegations that over MVR50,000 (US$3,200) of state funds was spent on plane tickets for Justice Hameed’s official visit to China in December 2010.
The complainant alleged that Hameed also visited Sri Lanka and Malaysia both before and after his trip to China to attend a conference by the International Council of Jurists.
A return ticket on a direct flight from Malé to Beijing at time cost MVR16,686 (US$1,080).
Furthermore, in May 2012, the ACC revealed that Justice Hameed was among three sitting judges illegally occupying state-owned apartments.
The commission contended that a decision by parliament’s finance committee to allow the judges to purchase the flats in Sina-Male’ contravened the Judges Act and the constitution.
The ACC explained that it investigated a complaint alleging three senior judges were occupying state-owned apartments while simultaneously receiving living allowances.
The flats were leased during President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration by the former Justice Ministry and High Court under terms that would see the now-defunct ministry and High Court gain ownership upon completion of full payment
The three judges had reportedly been paying rent for the flats in the government-owned Sina-Malé apartment blocks when the committee decided to grant them ownership upon completion of full payment.
The ACC found that the Finance Committee’s decision to register the flats to the judges was in violation of article 102 of the constitution and article 38 of the Judges Act as well as section 100(a)(11) of the parliamentary rules of procedure.
Article 39(b) of the Judges Act states that judges in the same court shall be given the same amount as living allowances and prohibits “different kinds of living allowance or benefits for different judges.”