Supreme Court enters legal wrangle over High Court appointments

The Supreme Court of the Maldives has ordered the Civil Court to halt its case regarding the Judicial Services Commission (JSC)’s appointment of five High Court judges last week, and hand the matter to the Supreme Court.

The Judicial Service Commission appointed five judges, Shuaib Hussein Zakariyya, Dr Azmiraldha Zahir, Abdul Rauf Ibrahim, Abbas Shareef and Ali Sameer to the High Court bench last week. Zahir is the first woman to be appointed to the High Court bench in the Maldives.

However once the appointments were concluded, Criminal Court judge Abdul Baary filed a case in the Civil Court against the appointment of the new judges, claiming that there were policy and legal issues in the JSC’s appointment procedure.

Judge Baary told Haveeru that there were issues with the High Court Judges Appointment Policy as established by the JSC itself.

He claimed that the JSC’s policy stated that if a female and a male scored even marks, higher priority should be given to the female when appointing judges for the High Court bench. This, he said, was against the Constitution and the Labor Act.

The Civil Court issued an injunction halting the appointment of the High Court judges prior to taking their oath.

However the Supreme Court today stated that it had issued a Writ of Prohibition to the Civil Court, ordering it to hand over the case file to the Supreme Court before 4:00pm tomorrow.

Six JSC members have been accused of criminal charges by the President’s Member on the Commission, Aishath Velezinee, while the Commission as a whole is under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly embezzling money by paying itself a ‘committee allowance’.