The Supreme Court has issued a writ of prohibition and taken over a defamation case against it filed in the Civil Court by Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail.
The Supreme Court order issued today states that it had learned that the Civil Court had accepted a defamation suit filed by Ibra. It ordered the lower court not to take “any action regarding the said case” and to send “all the documents in the case file, including all actions taken since the case was filed as well as the minutes” to the court before 3:30pm this afternoon.
The writ of prohibition was signed by Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz.
Ibra, a member of the Constitution Draft Committee of the former Special Majlis, longstanding Male’ MP and founding member of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), had filed the case against the Supreme Court after it reprimanded him for calling on the public to “rise up and sort out the judges”.
In response to Ibra’s calls, the Supreme Court and the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) demanded authorities investigate the former MP, claiming that “making such statements in a free, democratic society under lawful governance goes against the principles of civilisation”.
Ibra responded by filing a defamation suit in the Civil Court against the Supreme Court.
But today, “The documents and everything have been handcuffed and taken to the Supreme Court,” Ibra told Minivan News.
“Initially [the Civil Court] was of the opinion that the case was not in their jurisdiction, because it involved the Supreme Court. But I appealed to the registrar, outlined my argument, and the second time they agreed they could and should accept the case,” Ibra said.
“I paid my fees, and was waiting for them to hold the first hearing. Then today I had a call from newspaper Haveeru asking me to comment on the Supreme Court’s taking over the case – I replied that no one had told me about it and I was not in a position to comment. Later my lawyer called and said the Supreme Court had published the writ on their website.”
As a result, Ibra said, “I now have to go before the Supreme Court and say to them ‘You have defamed me, now please decide in my favour.’”
Ibra has previously observed that the act of an appellate court taking over the jurisdiction of a trial court was unprecedented “in any democratic country, anywhere in the world.”
“Even in cases of a mistrial, the instruction is to retry the case. Appellate courts don’t sit on trials. And they are systematically doing it – at least three cases so far. What they are effectively doing is influencing the independence of the trial court. The significance of that is that if trial court judges cannot be independent of the higher court, there is no room for appeals. Because the decision is going to be the Supreme Court decision,” Ibra told Minivan News.
“I don’t see how they can sit in judgement on themselves,” Ibra said today. “Every single defamation case until now has been tried in the Civil Court. Just because the Supreme Court is involved doesn’t mean the Civil Court should not hear the case – the Supreme Court is obstructing the process of justice.”
The fact that the decision to take over the case from the Civil Court implied that a majority of the seven Supreme Court judges had elected to do so, Ibra said.
“This means the majority of the Supreme Court judges are not cognisant of the principles of natural justice, and are clearly trying to obstruct the provision of judge to a citizen claiming his fundamental right as guaranteed in black and white in the Constitution.
“This is not about Ibra. If they can do this to Ibra they are setting a precedent to do it to just about anyone.”
He suggested that the Supreme Court’s action today “establishes what I originally claimed. We as citizens – the public – have to do something. We can’t let seven idiots hijack the justice system of the entire country.”