JSC appoints high court judges, including the first woman to the post

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has appointed five judges to the High Court of the Maldives, including Shuaib Hussein Zakariyya, Dr Azmiraldha Zahir, Abdul Rauf Ibrahim, Abbas Shareef and Ali Sameer.

Dr Azmiraldha Zahir is first female judge to be appointed to the High Court, and the JSC said in a statement, was appointed despite the objection of Sheikh Shuaib Abdurahman on the grounds of her gender.

”The only commission member that did not vote for Dr Azmiraldha was Sheikh Shuaib Abdhulrahman,” said the commission. ”The reason he did not vote was that he said none one of the four sunnah sects of Islam allow females to judge in cases.”

However, the commission said Dr Azmiraldha had been appointed as one of the five judges during last night’s meeting, by the vote of eight among nine present members of the commission. All the members of the JSC were present at the meeting excluding the President’s Member Aishath Velezinee, who has contended that the commission is unfit to appoint the judiciary because the far lower standards of ethical and moral conduct it demands from judges, than is required by the Judicial Code of Conduct as passed by the JSC itself.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is furthermore investigating the JSC for embezzlement of state funds. Last Thursday, Velezinee also filed criminal charges with police against six members of the JSC.

All judges appointed to High Court, excluding Dr Azmiraldha Zahir, were appointed by the majority vote of the commission, the JSC said.

Currently there are very few female judges in Maldivian courts.

”According to the policy of appointing judges to the High Court, which was approved by the JSC, any member that does not vote for a person among those who received the highest mark, shall explain the reason why he did not vote,” said the JSC.

Meanwhile, daliy newspaper Haveeru has reported that a judge at the Criminal Court has filed a case against the appointment of judges in the Civil Court, claiming that there were policy and legal issues in the appointment procedure.

Haveeru reported that Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baary Yousuf told the paper that there were issues with the High Court Judges Appointment Policy established by the JSC.

According to Haveeru he said that the policy states that if a female and male scored even marks, higher priority shall be given to the female when appointing judges for the high court bench, and that this was against the constitution and Labor Act.

Haveeru also reported that Ali Sameer was the chief judge of Civil Court, Shuaib Hussein was the Chief Judge of the Juvenile Court, Abdul Rauf Ibrahim was the registrar of the Civil Court and Abbas Shareef was the lawyer of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.


12 thoughts on “JSC appoints high court judges, including the first woman to the post”

  1. The judiciary of Maldives is such a big dirty joke.

    Its no surprise that people without any experience have been made judges at High Court?

    Azmiralda Zahir has no experience as a judge. She is put on the bench just because she is the daughter of Mr Ahmed (Seena) Zahir who was the Speaker of the Majilis during Gayoom's time.

    There are two women judges already who are qualified for the post better than Azmiralda.

    They could have put Azima Shukoor on the bench. Atleast she win all the cases she represent. Even if she goes to North Korea to represent clients she will be the winner.

    Abbas Shareef. Gayoom's boy with no experience as a judge.

    Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baary Yousuf is the guy who presided the case in which one of the biggest drug lords were acquitted. Rumor has it, that his assets increased after later including a big safari boat.

  2. According to the Pay Structure passed by the Parliament under Article 102 of the Constitution:

    The Chief Judge at High Court would receive Rf38,000 as salary and Rf 15,000 as living allowance and Rf3,300 as Risk Allowance. Monthly income = Rf56,300.

    He will also get Rf4,750 health insurance per year.

    The 8 judges at the High Court bench would receive Rf36,000 as salary and Rf 15,000 as living allowance and Rf3,300 as Risk Allowance. Monthly income = Rf54,300.

    Each of them will also get Rf4,750 health insurance per year.

    Dear Defence Minister and Police Commissioner.

    Please do not send any of the servicemen at MNDF or Police to provide security to these judges.

    They already have the money to hire their own security.

  3. Politics cannot be separated from this process. Everyone knows Aisha Sujoon would surely deserve a seat on the High Court bench more than newcomers to the judiciary. We heard only recently that she has been included in a UN Tribunal for torture prevention.

    One might not be so sure that accomplished young lawyers like Azima Shakoor would actually aspire to the judiciary at the current stage in their careers. Lawyers tend to earn more at less risk.

    The judiciary is not a joke. In whatever form, the place has existed for many years with its own culture, politics and dynamics of power. Recent media coverage of events in the judiciary may enrage those of us who understand nothing of the complexities of the Maldivian judiciary. One needs to understand that just as the Maldivian Civil Service, Public Enterprises and Police Service have not undergone an overnight transformation in terms of relationships of power and prevailing culture within, we cannot expect the judiciary to be whipped into shape by the mere outrage of those outside it.

  4. While i applaud the appointment of a female judge to the bench it is very sad that Dr. Azmiralda Zahir has never practised as a lawyer in the Maldives and has only been in the academic field. High Court bench is no joke and whilst we have accomplished lawyers like Judge Shujune it is sad that this has been overriden by the play of politics here.
    even azima shukoor wud hv made a better judge than Dr. Zahir.

  5. @haterz - do not dismiss the outrage of those outside the judiciary as 'mere'.

    We may be outside of the judiciary, but you are forgetting one thing: the judiciary belongs to the nation, it is not a private members' club.

    If you believe that a particular country's judiciary can possess 'its own culture, politics and dynamics of power' you must give your thoughts some serious re-consideration.

    There are certain universal principles and standards that every independent judiciary in a democratic nation is expected to maintain - it cannot have a culture, politics and power dynamics that is of its own.

    It is precisely the system that you say 'has existed for years' that needs to be changed and has allowed people - as you have rightly pointed out - to be left out of the High Court while those less deserving get a lifetime on the bench.

    Just because something has 'existed for many years' does not make it right.

    The outrage of us 'outsiders' is the only thing that is pushing for reform of the judiciary because the 'insiders' (you sound like you are one) have been too self-serving to get angry.

    No member of the judiciary has even commented on any of the events that have been in the media that you now refer to.

    No member of the judiciary has openly expressed even the smallest dissatisfaction with the way in which the judiciary's independence has been revealed to be non-existent.

    Fear of reprisals from the cabal that runs the JSC, fear of compromising their own careers, the need to keep an uninterrupted record of winning cases, have kept every 'insider' in the hallowed club quiet. This is the result.

    Now you come out and talk because there has been unfairness in the appointment of judges. Now you point fingers.

    It is sad that even the most educated, the most aware, and the most knowledgeable among the judiciary only speak out when one of their own suffers a pecuniary or professional injustice.

    The people being robbed of their right to an honest judiciary matters not, and is not worth commenting upon.

    Is it because injustices done to the public and the lack of judicial independence is seen as affecting only 'outsiders'??

    Yes, the quickest possible reform must come from the inside. It can be organised and effective, as the judiciary of Pakistan - not the most laudable example of democracy the world has seen - showed the world recently.

    Unfortunately, over half the Maldivian judiciary comprises of unqualified relics of the past, controlled by the corrupt JSC and the other half are too fascinated by their own careers and prospects of self-advancement to care.

    The JSC is being run without a Standards of Operation; it does not have a procedure for investigating complaints against members of the judiciary; it has been shown time and again to act unconstitutionally.

    Has any insider in the judiciary commented, let alone expressed anger? No.

    Because that would have endangered their own careers - especially with the High Court appointments looming.

    Now you come and comment, and express outrage at the selection of High Court appointments. Now you decry injustice.

    Is it any wonder that what is left to fight for the independence of our judiciary is 'the mere outrage of those outside it'??

    How dare you 'insiders' remain complacent and complicit and then dismiss our anger as irrelevant?

    If you are too busy with your own careers to instigate reform, then at least do us the courtesy of recognising that our anger, helpless as it maybe in the face of your non-action, is the only force that is currently fighting for the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

    You are right. The judiciary is not a joke. As it stands, it is a threat to the survival of our democracy and an obstruction to democratic consolidation.

    And we the people, in whose name it exists and for whom it is meant to deliver justice, will fight for its independence and integrity while you on the inside either line your pockets with money or add more bullet points to your CVs.

    Under the circumstances, please do us 'outsiders' the courtesy of at least recognising that we have every right to be outraged, and that our sustained anger and protests CAN and WILL whip this cabal into shape.

    And do please get down from those lawyerly high-horses and accept that a person does not need a law degree (or a sentencing certificate) to know an independent judiciary when they see one and to recognise injustice where it exists.

    Quite clearly, the more 'knowledge' of the law you acquire, the less you remember what an independent judiciary stands for. So let us, the hoi polloi, the uneducated and unwashed masses, fight for our rights without being subjected to your misguided sense of superiority.

    Thank you

  6. @haterz: when we have been ill-done by civil service, public enterprises and police services we have a choice of going to the judicial services to resolve the dispute. Where do we go to resolve the disputes with the high court? This is why judicial is unique and should not use inefficiencies in other areas as an excuse to give corrup people life tenures.

  7. None of the Judges can really be trusted in the Maldives, at this point of time. Too much corruption involved with Judges when it comes to politics. They are always on one political side or another. They do not care for the greater safety of normal Maldivians. Instead, they voted according how their corrupt funders orders them to. If it is to release a criminal just to make their funders happy, they will. Why else would they be punishing someone who made a move on a foreign tourist with lashes and 2 years in prison, while letting free criminals who stab people on the street in broad daylight.

    What kind of excuses can judges give. They should dig a hole in the ground and keep their heads in there as a show of shame.

  8. Dr. Azmiralda Zahir has in fact been around for quite a few years. Just because she keeps a low profile does not make her a newcomer. She had only recently gone into academia. One does not have to physically go to court to have experience in the field of law.

    Ms.Aisha Shujune is indeed a respectable person in the judiciary. Her decisions are good. She has been on the bench for only about 2 years. Prior to that she did not go to court as a lawyer, and neither did she take on any private clients (as she was part of the judicial admin).

    And yet, the irony of all this is that Dr. Zahir is not appropriate simply because she happens to be the daughter of a certain someone and nothing else.

    And get this - she trains judges at the Faculty of Shariah and Law, and yet she is not in a position to be a judge herself????

    I wonder if the Maldives would ever see a day without so much hatred and jealousy.

  9. @ Ali 'One does not have to physically go to court to have experience in the field of law.'

    Then where does one has to go to get experience? to prison? lol In most countries, you have to be a lower court judge before you can become a high court judge.

    This clearly seems to be a case where someone with very little experience if at all, is now being made a High Court Judge.

    the point is there are more qualified female judges like Aisha Shujoon who deserves it. At least she has more experience of being a judge.

    One can be a professor of political science for years and that wouldn't necessarily make one a good politician! Dr. Zahir maybe good in academia and training judges - that does not necessarily means she would be good at being a judge herself.

    Having said that, I wish Dr. Azmiralda Zahir all the best. It is up to her now to prove all those (like myself) nervous about her lack of experience that she is capable of handling her job. Good luck to her.

  10. @Ayya

    I actually agree with you on your comment regarding current judges being given priority - but I do not think that JSC should be blamed for their decision. The Constitution allows anyone with 5 years experience either as a judge or as a lawyer to sit on the High Court bench, and to give priority to judges would open a can of worms.

    I also find it amusing that you have to pick on Dr. Zahir, given the fact that out of the 5 people who were selected, only 2 are current judges.

    Being a lawyer does not mean that you have to physically go to court to get experience. There are many lawyers who do not go to court, but who have done their fair share of preparing cases. Maldivian court procedures are not rocket science - trust me! Some of the supreme court judges are not exactly "experienced" in "going to court" either. But that does not necessarily make them people with no experience.

    All in all, the JSC decision came somewhat as a surprise, but it was all fair and square. There are many things that we do not know about - so let's not be too hasty in coming to conclusions! 🙂

  11. Former lawyer for Maumoon, Abbas Shareef, is the nephew of Press Secretary Zuhair. Abbas' move to the High Court may be a device to prevent him kowtowing Maumoon.


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