Housing Ministry authorised to withdraw land owned by Malé City Council: Civil Court

The Housing Ministry has the authority withdraw lands under the Malé City Council if the cabinet decides such lands are required for social, economic and national security purposes, the Civil Court has ruled on Wednesday.

The ruling came in response to a request temporary injunction by the owners of Lemongrass restaurants after police forcibly halted construction of a new restaurant in Malé’s carnival area last week.

The plot had been leased to Lemon Grass restaurants by Malé City Council.

But the Housing Ministry decided to take the plot back and ordered the police to halt ongoing work. Owners of Lemongrass restaurants told local media over 80 percent of construction had been completed.

The Civil Court ruled that when lands leased to people under third party agreements are withdrawn the government would have to pay compensation to the tenant.

On March 27, following a cabinet decision, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure decided to take over all major lands in Malé City from the city council.

The Housing Ministry and Malé City Council have clashed periodically over the ownership of land in Malé.

Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muiz told newspaper Haveeru at the time that the lands that will be taken from the council including the artificial beach, carnival area, south harbour area, lands near the T-Jetty, Usfasgandu area on the southeast, and Dharubaaruge multipurpose hall.

Muiz said all of the plots were to be developed under a master plan formulated by the ministry, and that there were no problems between the council and the ministry.

“We are taking almost all large plots [in Malé]. We will very soon inform the council in writing that those have been taken [from the council]. We will work with the council. I don’t think this will create any problems,” Muiz said.

‘’The government has the authority to take such lands to utilise them for social and economic purposes.”

Muiz further said that all arrangements of transfer, including the issue of any existing contracts with a private party, will be dealt according to the laws and regulations.

Director of Lemongrass Ahmed Atheef Hussain told Sun Online that the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure had claimed that the restaurant was being constructed in violation of regulations, and requested police to halt the work.


Chief Justice calls on Majlis to hasten PG appointment

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz has called on the parliament to hasten the appointment of a new prosecutor general (PG).

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Drug Court’s development structure, the Chief Justice noted that parliament had been conducting extra sittings to conclude unfinished work, and that it was possible to appoint a PG during one of those sittings.

The Criminal Court decided in January that it would not accept any cases submitted by the PG’s Office, and that it would halt all existing cases as the PG position had been vacant for over 30 days.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem today said that he was yet to receive any response from the apex court regarding an appeal for assistance in the matter, made over two weeks ago.

Faiz noted that each day that passed without a PG was a day on which he felt concern. He expressed regret that one half of the criminal justice procedure was now ineffective, and that the constitutional time frame to appoint the new PG had passed.

Furthermore, Faiz said that if the constitution mandates to do something during a specific duration of time it has to be done in that period. The constitution states that if the position of PG becomes vacant a new person must be appointed in 30 days.

Faiz presided over Supreme Court proceedings during the annulment of the 2013 presidential election first round – though the chief justice himself opposed the ruling. The delays resulting from the verdict’s guidelines subsequently led to the extension of the legally mandated presidential term of office, prompting fears of a constitutional crisis.

Speaking to Minivan News today Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem said that the Supreme Court had still not responded to a letter sent by his office complaining about the Criminal Court’s decision.

‘’We called the Supreme Court today also to ask about the response but we were unable to get a word from the Supreme Court regarding the issue,’’ he said.

He stated that it was not for him to make the Supreme Court and parliament accountable and there was nothing he could do about it.

‘’Next week we will decide what to do,’’ he added.

On November 25, former PG Ahmed Muiz submitted his resignation just as parliament was set to debate a no-confidence motion against him.

Last month, Shameem said that the laws did not prohibit the deputy from taking over the responsibilities of the PG should a new person not be appointed within the required 30 days.

He also expressed concern that there were people held in pre-trial detention who were to be kept there until their trials were concluded.

“So what do they do now, it would not be fair to keep them in there until the parliament comes back to work from recess after three months and appoints a new PG,’’ Shameem said.

On December 10, President Abdulla Yameen proposed his nephew Maumoon Hameed for the post, submitting the name to parliament for MPs’ approval.

The issue was sent to the Majlis independent commissions committee, with the group subsequently deciding to seek public opinion before sending Hameed’s name to the parliament floor. The Majlis is now on recess and will not re-commence work until March.

On January 9, the Supreme Court had ordered the Criminal Court to continue pending trials, saying that the criminal justice system must proceed in order to maintain constitutional rule.

The Criminal Court announced it would not reconsider its decision to stop accepting cases, but decided to continue with cases that were already filed at the court.


Prosecutor General resigns before no-confidence debate

Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizzu has today tendered his resignation, shortly before parliament was set to debate a no-confidence motion against him.

The President’s Office has confirmed that Muiz wrote to newly elected President Abdulla Yameen, following through on a previous promise not to allow the censure motion to reach the floor of the house.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) filed the motion against Muiz on October 24, claiming that that he had failed to take action against the police and the military officers who mutinied against former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 2012.

Parliament was scheduled to discuss the motion at 1:30pm today. The MDP currently holds a simple majority in parliament, recently using its position to secure the removal of Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor in the final days of the Waheed administration.

The MDP in its statement argued that the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report had given clear evidence of gross misconduct by the police and the military on February 7 and 8 2012, which included brutalizing protesters and undermining fundamental rights guaranteed to the people by the constitution.

The party alleged that the PG – despite having the power, authority, and the mandate to look into such actions – had failed to take any action against the wrongdoing noted in the CoNI report.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has also alleged that Muiz’s independence and impartiality had been compromised in return for his job security.

The PG is constitutionally required to act independently and impartially, with only general policy directives from the AG.

After the original hearings of the Majlis Independent Institutions Committee was disrupted by pro-government MPs, Muiz produced a written response to the charges earlier this month, maintaining that he had always executed his responsibilities in accordance with the constitution and Islamic Sharia.

President Yameen is now required to appoint to the post an individual approved by the majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis.


DRP ‘gate shaking’ case sent to Prosecutor General

Police have sent a case concerning the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)-led protest outside MNDF headquarters in January to the Prosecutor General’s office, following investigation.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the case involved “some DRP members.” DRP Vice Presidents Umar Naseer and Ali Waheed have previously been summoned by police for questioning over the issue.

”It’s unauthorized to gather near the Maldives National Defense Force headquarters,” Shiyam said. “[The protesters] split police forces and shook the main gatesof MNDF,” he explained.

He said the case sent to the PG included “everyone in connection with the case.”

The PG’s office confirmed the case had been received but PG Ahmed Muiz would not give further details to Minivan News.

DRP leader and MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said the purpose of trying to prosecute DRP protesters was that they “had been trying to make the government responsible and remind them of their pledges”, and that the prosecution was an attempt “to escape from the unfulfilled pledges made to the people.”

Thasmeen noted that it was also unauthorized to gather and protest near the parliament.

”I have seen people with loudspeakers and microphones near the parliament,” Thasmeen said, ”Why isn’t the government investigating and prosecuting them?”

He said he was surprised that the senior officials of the government had told the people the government was a democracy, but were now trying to arrest protesters.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Shifaz said that he would describe the riot as an act of ”terrorism”

Shifaz said trying to enter a country’s defense force base was “a very serious case”, and that the people involved in it should be prosecuted.

”MNDF have the authority to use weapons when that happens,” he said. ”They did not do it.”

He said whether or not someone was an MP, nobody was above the law.

”A penalty should be given for the people who were involved in the incident,” he said.