Dr Mohamed Latheef appointed CSC Chair

Parliament has appointed Civil Service Commission (CSC) member and former chair Dr Mohamed Latheef as the new chair of the commission.

According to media reports, of the 75 MPs present, 60 voted in favour of appointing Latheef as chair of the commission. The remaining 15 MPs abstained from voting.

The parliament this morning discussed the two names proposed to the parliament by the majority and minority parties for the position of CSC Chair.

According to local newspapers, majority party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) proposed current member of the CSC Dr Mohamed Latheef –  the former chair of the commission – and the minority Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) proposed Ahmed Hassan Didi to be appointed as chair.

Today’s parliament session was chaired by Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid.

On August 13, the parliament appointed a new member to the Civil Service Commission to replace Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, who was dismissed in November 2012 over allegations that he sexually harassed a female member of staff.

51 out of 54 MPs present in the parliament voted in favor of appointing Fathimath Reenee Abdulsathar as Fahmy’s replacement, while the remaining three MPs abstained.

In November last year parliament voted 38 – 32 in favour of removing the CSC chair after the Independent Institutions Committee investigated the complaint of sexual harassment lodged by a female CSC employee.

On 14 March 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that parliament’s decision to remove Fahmy from his position was not based on reasonable grounds and invalidated the decision.

On August 15, the Supreme Court issued an injunction to halt parliament’s appointment just as the President’s Office prepared to give credentials to Reenee.

However, the following day Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain accused his own court of issuing the injunction without his knowledge. Former Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member Aishath Velazinee has argued that the Majlis was given authority over CSC appointments in 2010, describing the Supreme Court’s move as a “mutiny”.

The President of Anti-Corruption Commssion (ACC) Hassan Luthfy yesterday (19 August) told local media that the case had now been filed at the commission as its members found that it could be a case of Supreme Court Justices working for the benefit of an individual.

Hassan Luthfy noted that Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed was on the bench that issued the injunction, and that Hameed had an ongoing case – regarding a leaked sex tape – in the JSC, of which the dismissed chair of CSC Fahmy is a member.

Correction: An earlier version of this article named Dr Ibrahim Luthfy as the new CSC chair. This had been corrected to Dr Mohamed Latheef.


Chief Justice pleads ignorance over Supreme Court’s injunction blocking CSC appointment

The Chief Justice of the Maldives Supreme Court has accused his court of issuing an injunction without his knowledge, following parliament’s appointment of a replacement for Civil Service Commission (CSC) chief Mohamed Fahmy Hassan.

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain told local media that the decision to block the swearing in of Fahmy’s replacement was made without the knowledge of three of the court’s seven judges. Such a move would contravene the country’s constitution which mandates an uneven number of judges be present for all Supreme Court decisions.

The Supreme Court told local media yesterday that their earlier invalidation of the Majlis’s decision to dismiss Fahmy rendered the decision to replace him redundant. The statement alleged that Faiz had rejected a request to attend an emergency meeting to address the issue.

Aishath Velazinee, former member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) on which the chair of the CSC automatically serves, has described the incident as a “mutiny in the Supreme Court.”

Fahmy’s replacement Fathimath Reenee Abdulsathar was reportedly on the verge of taking the oath of office in the President’s Office on Thursday when the ceremony was halted with news of the injunction.

The People’s Majlis had earlier in the week voted overwhelmingly to replace former CSC head Fahmy after allegations of sexual harassment. The Supreme Court had previously ruled parliament’s decision to dismiss Fahmy as unconstitutional.

The Majlis Independent Institutions Committee launched an investigation into Fahmy’s alleged misconduct in June 2012. Velazinee argued that the Majlis does have the authority to appoint and dismiss CSC members after an amendment made to the CSC Act in 2010.

The Supreme Court told local media yesterday that their earlier invalidation of the Majlis’s decision to dismiss Fahmy rendered the decision to replace him redundant.

Velazinee compared the incident to the manoeuvres of the High Court bench in 2010, which she described as “the first of many mutinies that had eventually led to the coup of February 7, 2012.”

She notes that it was the same judges involved in circumscribing the powers of the JSC for political ends in 2010 who were behind this new “mutiny”. A full account of the events surrounding the self-appointment of the Supreme Court at the end of the constitutional transitional period were documented in Velazinee’s 2012 book ‘The Failed Silent Coup: In Defeat, They Reached for the Gun’.

In her assessment of judicial independence in the Maldives earlier this year, UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul described this decision to retain all five interim Supreme Court judges as having “no legal or constitutional basis.”

The JSC eventually opted to interpret Article 285 of the country’s new constitution as purely symbolic, waiving the need to remove any sitting judges who failed to meet clearly defined educational and ethical standards.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation from office followed his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Nasheed’s decision to detain the judge came after he filed a successful injunction in the Civil Court preventing his further investigation by the court’s own watchdog body, the JSC.