The Supreme Court issued an order Thursday night instructing “all relevant state institutions” to expedite the appointment of a new Prosecutor General (PG).
The apex court order (Dhivehi) noted that the constitution did not envision the post remaining vacant and stipulates that it must be filled within 30 days of a vacancy.
Referring to the “principle of necessity” and the importance of the criminal justice system continuing to function to ensure rule of law, the Supreme Court also ordered trial courts to accept and proceed with cases submitted by the Prosecutor General’s office.
Following the lapse of the 30-day period for the parliament to appoint a replacement for former PG Ahmed Muiz, the Criminal Court decided to halt all ongoing cases pending the appointment.
Muiz submitted his resignation on November 25 last year, shortly before parliament was set to debate a no-confidence motion against him.
In late January, Deputy PG Hussain Shameem wrote to the Supreme Court seeking its assistance in resolving the dispute.
Shameem told Minivan News at the time that there were more than 150 cases at the office that needed to be filed at the Criminal Court, including cases of suspects held in pre-trial detention.
“So what do they do now, it would not be fair to keep them in there until the parliament comes back to work from recess after three months and appoint a new PG,’’ Shameem said.
On December 10, President Abdulla Yameen nominated his nephew Maumoon Hameed to the post of Prosecutor General.
The nominee was forwarded to parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee for review.
The committee’s chair, MP Ahmed Sameer – who recently defected from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party to the government-aligned Jumhooree Party – told newspaper Haveeru shortly after the Supreme Court issued its order that the vetting process was stalled due to lack of cooperation from political parties.
While a committee meeting scheduled to take place during the ongoing recess to interview the nominee was canceled upon request by pro-government MPs, a second attempt to hold the meeting was unsuccessful because MDP MPs opposed it.
“I am ready to hold the meeting even tonight if they request it,” the MP for Haa Alif Dhidhoo was quoted as saying.