The Prosecutor General’s Office has revealed that the Criminal Court has rejected 120 out of 383 cases submitted over the past three months.
At a press conference held on today (April 3), Deputy Prosecutor General (PG) Hussain Shameem stated that the total number of cases rejected and returned by the Criminal Court had now reached 435.
The Criminal Court had previously refused to accept new cases from the PG’s office, citing the Majis’s failure to approve a new candidate within the constitutionally stated period after or Ahmed Muiz’s November 2013 resignation.
The backlog of cases pending at the PG’s Office reached 533 as a result of the Criminal Court’s stance, before the court resumed acceptance of cases after a Supreme Court intervention.
Shameem stated today that the Criminal Court has still returned 120 cases since that time.
After the Criminal Court introduced new regulations governing the procedures for submitting cases in February, it subsequently rejected 60 cases forwarded from the PG’s Office, prompting Shameem to accuse the court of usurping powers reserved by the Supreme Court.
Shameem today revealed that one of the justifications given by the court when returning cases is that the accused is not originally from the capital city Malé where the court is located, claiming that hence the jurisdiction therefore falls to the relevant island magistrate court.
Shameem claimed that the Criminal Court can indeed preside over these cases as the crimes were committed in Malé and also because referring the cases to island magistrate courts would five rise to further administrative complications.
“The objective of the law is also to provide services conveniently. This is why the law is in such a way that allows superior courts to preside over all types of cases,” said Shameem.
“However, things are currently not proceeding in a way that fulfills the objective of this law,” Shameem claimed.
He further added that the PG’s Office has again appealed to the Supreme Court to assist in finding a solution to the matter.
According to Shameem, another reason the courts have used in returning cases is the state’s failure to appoint interpreters in cases where there are foreign witnesses.
Shameem explained today that the law states the provision of interpreters to fall under the mandate of the court presiding over the particular case in question.
After disputes with court staff over unpaid overtime, local media reported the court had been forced to curtail working hours due to budgetary restraints.
The deputy PG stated that police had sent 829 cases in the past three months to his office after completion of investigation.
He further revealed that the office had sent 932 cases to various courts in the past three months, adding that 356 other cases were currently prepared to be forwarded to a court after the prosecution’s work has been completed.
According to Shameem, the cases recently submitted include 383 cases forwarded to the Criminal Court, 210 cases submitted to the Drug Court, 22 cases submitted to the Juvenile Court, and 317 cases submitted to various magistrate courts around the country.