The following is an unofficial translation of the Supreme Court verdict removing Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz from their posts for contempt of court.
While the verdict delivered in court included an order for the relevant authorities to investigate EC members for contempt of court “through criminal justice procedures,” the copy of the verdict later shared with media did not include such an order.
The Supreme Court has reportedly insisted that there was no difference between the verdict read out at court and the copy shared with media hours later.
Although Minivan News attended the trial, the reporting of the sentencing was based on the consensus of journalists in attendance after confusion concerning the jail sentence.
Local media reported without exception that all four EC members were sentenced to jail. However, the verdict later shared with media stated that only Fuwad Thowfeek was sentenced.
Meanwhile, Thowfeek as well as observers from civil society organisations inside the court room were under the impression that both Thowfeek and Fayaz were sentenced.
“The Supreme Court said they are giving six months jail term to Vice Chair Fayaz and me and that will be executed after a three year period and that we have been removed from out position in the elections commission and we are no longer Elections Commission members,” Thowfeek told Minivan News last night.
Contacted by Minivan News today, a Supreme Court media official declined to confirm or deny any discrepancies. The full judgment (Dhivehi) including the reasoning and dissenting opinions was uploaded to the Supreme Court website today.
Whereas the right to vote in elections and public referendums and to take part in the conduct of public affairs directly or through freely chosen representatives is guaranteed for every citizen of the Maldives 18 years of age or older by Article 26 of the constitution of the Republic of Maldives; and while ensuring that all elections and public referendums are conducted freely and fairly, without intimidation, aggression, undue influence or corruption is stipulated by Article 170 of the constitution; and as the Elections Commission had not complied with both the Supreme Court judgment in case number 2013/SC-C/11 that struck down articles eight and 11 of law number 4/2013 (Political Parties Act), which required a minimum of 10,000 members to register and operate a political party, since it was in conflict with both the constitution of Republic of Maldives as well as practices of developed democratic societies in the world, and the Supreme Court order 2014/SC-SJ/01 – issued after the Elections Commission announced its intention of dissolving political parties with less than 3,000 members in violation of the judgment delivered in the case – ordering the Elections Commission not to dissolve political parties already registered in the Maldives despite not having a minimum of 3,000 members for reasons specified in Supreme Court case number 2013/SC-C/11, stating that dissolving parties already registered on the basis that a political party’s registry should include 3,000 members would be a violation of the constitution and the judgment in the Supreme Court case number 2013/SC-C/11, and that parties registered under the previous political parties regulation will continue to exist without being dissolved; and as the Elections Commission’s senior officials have openly displayed disobedience to articles 141(c) and (d) and 145 (c) of the constitution and articles 20(b) and 77‡‡ of the Judicature Act through the media and challenged the Supreme Court’s rex judicata [a matter already judged] judgment in case number 2013/SC-C/42 as well as the orders related to the 2013 presidential election that were issued to protect the basic rights guaranteed by the constitution for Maldivian citizens, to uphold the rule of law, to protect the constitutional right of Maldivians to vote in elections, and in public referendums, conducted freely and fairly, without intimidation, aggression, undue influence or corruption and to guarantee that elections are held under the conditions specified under Article 170 of the constitution, obstructed justice and brought the court into disrepute, in addition to the commission’s President Fuwad Thowfeek’s statements made during the trial against the Supreme Court’s procedures and jurisdictions, which held the court in contempt, and since these actions of Fuwad Thowfeek are such that it could diminish the dignity of the courts stated in Article 141*(c) and (d) of the constitution, [we] sentence Fuwad Thowfeek of Ma. Thalhamudhige to six months imprisonment under Article 88(a) of the penal code, and order that the enforcement of the sentence be delayed for a period of three years, with reference to Article 88 of the Supreme Court regulations, under the Supreme Court’s powers and responsibilities granted by articles 11††(1)(2)(3), 9(f) and 22‡of the Judicature Act to establish justice, prevent the misuse of the judiciary and uphold the honour and dignity of the judiciary as stated in Article 141 of the constitution; and since after assuming the responsibilities of their posts with an oath to uphold the constitution, the Elections Commission’s President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz, who have to bear the responsibility of running the Elections Commission in accordance with the law, stepped aside from fulfilling their legal responsibilities, challenged and disobeyed judgments and orders issued by the Supreme Court in its capacity as the guardian of the constitution and laws, (we) determine that Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek of Ma. Thalhamudhige, and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz of M. Hazaareevilla, must legally bear responsibility as the two seniormost officials of the commission for disobeying and challenging Supreme Court judgments outlining the legal perspective as well as the court’s orders, and since these actions contravene Article 145 (c)** of the constitution and Article 20 of the Judicature Act and diminishes the dignity granted to the court by Article 141(c) and (d), [we] declare that Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek of Ma. Thalhamudhige, and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz of M. Hazaareevilla, have lost the right and legal status to remain members of the commission and that the pair’s seats on the commission have become vacant, under the powers and responsibilities granted to the Supreme Court by articles 11(1)(2 (3), 9(f)† and 22 of the Judicature Act to establish justice and prevent the misuse of the judiciary and to uphold the honour and dignity of the judiciary as stated in Article 141 of the constitution and with reference to Article 88 of the Supreme Court regulations ; and [we] order the executive, parliament and the Elections Commission to complete all the necessary arrangements for conducting the People’s Majlis elections which are to be held in 2014 on the date for which it has been scheduled within the next six days (including holidays), and order the Elections Commission and all relevant state institutions to hold the election as planned.
*Article 141 of the constitution states, “(a) The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, the High Court, and such Trial Courts as established by law (b) The Supreme Court shall be the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives. The Chief Justice shall be the highest authority on the Supreme Court. All matters adjudicated before the Supreme Court shall be decided upon by a majority of the judges sitting together in session (c) No officials performing public functions, or any other persons, shall interfere with and influence the functions of the courts (d) Persons or bodies performing public functions, through legislative and other measures, must assist and protect the courts to ensure the independence, eminence, dignity, impartiality, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts.
**Article 145 (c) states, “The Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.”
†Article 9(f) of the Judicature Act states that the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction extends to “all matters adjudicated by the Supreme Court under the powers bestowed upon the court as the highest authority for the administration of justice.”
††Article 11(a) states, “The Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to adjudicate on constitutional issues with the following characteristics as matters within the inherent jurisdiction of the Supreme Court: 1. An issue with legal reasons which may send the country into a constitutional void or remove it from the constitutional framework; or 2. A dispute between two powers or institutions of the state regarding the interpretation of the Constitution; or 3. A constitutional issue concerning public interest of the nation.”
‡Article 22 states, “In addition to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court in its own right by the constitution and the jurisdiction of the court laid out under various articles of this Act, the Supreme Court has the jurisdiction to do the following: a) The power to give all orders under this Act and the Supreme Court Regulation, relating to a matter ora case submitted to the court, and to administer justice with regard to such matters or cases, and to take necessary actions to prevent the misuse of the judicial system and to uphold the confidence in the judicial system, b) In its own initiative or at the behest of a concerned party, in order to administer justice and to prevent the exploitation of the judicial system the power to issue various orders in accordance with the law, if any party is found to have violated this law or any principles of the Supreme Court regulation, c) In accordance with the law and regulation, the power to summon people in relation to a case or matter submitted to the Supreme Court, d) In relation to a case or matter submitted to the Supreme Court and for the purpose of finding the truth or any facts surrounding the case, the power to pose any question to any witness or party to the case at any time or in any manner, e) The power to issue an order requesting for the submission of any document required by the court in relation to a case or matter submitted to the Supreme Court.”
‡‡Article 77 states, “In carrying out the ruling of a court if it has not be delayed by that court or a court where the case was appealed, the ruling of every court is binding towards, the executive,parliament, the judiciary, persons in independent positions, state institutions, persons fulfilling state positions, the security service sector composing of the police and defence force and all other members of the public.”