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The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is “extremely concerned” over the Supreme Court’s contempt of court charges against the Elections Commission (EC), former President Mohamed Nasheed has said.
Speaking at a press conference today, Nasheed said the trial is “unjust” and is against the spirit of the constitution. He pledged to use all means to stop the case.
The Supreme Court on February 12 summoned the four members of the EC to an unannounced contempt of court trial under new ‘Suo motu’ regulations that allow the apex court to initiate trial and act as plaintiff and judge.
“If Election Commission members are removed, then there cannot be a fair election. MDP will not participate in such an election,” Nasheed told the press today.
The Supreme Court has accused the EC of contempt, claiming it had criticised the verdict which annulled the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013, as well as disobeying the court’s orders by dissolving eight political parties earlier this month.
During the second hearing in the case, EC lawyer Hussein Siraj said the commission had not received a document outlining charges and asked the five presiding judges to clarify and specify charges against the commission, but Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz asked the lawyer to respond to the charges to the extent he understood them.
The four commission members denied the charges, and expressed concern over the use of privileged testimony given at the People’s Majlis independent institutions oversight committee as evidence for contempt.
The constitution protects testimony provided at the Majlis unless it contravenes an Islamic tenet. Judge Ahmed Abdulla Didi claimed establishing justice to be an Islamic tenet and said the EC’s testimony at the People’s Majlis obstructed justice.
Nasheed said the if the MDP received a parliamentary majority it will add judges to the Supreme Court bench by amending the Judicature Act. Increasing the number of judges would “dilute harsh ideologies” on the bench, he said.
“Reforming the judiciary is essential for development and to protect Maldives’ sovereignty,” Nasheed said.
If the MDP receives a two-thirds majority, the party could impeach Supreme Court judges, he noted.
The MDP will also revise legislation governing the judicial watchdog body – the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Act – to ensure the organisation’s decisons cannot be reviewed through the courts and to limit the powers of the JSC president.
In 2012, the Civil Court issued an injunction halting disciplinary action against Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Mohamed is a key figure in the events leading up to Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012.
Meanwhile, JSC members have alleged JSC President and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed had stalled an investigation into Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s sex-tape scandal.
In addition to initiating proceedings against EC members, the Supreme Court has in the past ordered police to investigate MDP-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV over a report the station aired comparing the Maldivian justice system to that of ancient Sodom, suspended lawyers for publicly criticising the judiciary, and sought criminal charges against MPs for allegedly defaming the court.
“Our government was toppled because we began this journey. All the obstacles we are facing is because of this reason. Nonetheless, we will not back down and, God willing, we will succeed in this task,” he said.