The Civil Court has issued a temporary injunction ordering its own watchdog body, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), not to take any further action against Chief Judge of High Court Ahmed Shareef until it rules on a case concerning his suspension.
The new injunction issued by the Civil Court orders the JSC not to take any action against Chief Judge Shareef that would undermine his rights. The order will take effect until proceedings in the case filed by Chief Judge Shareef conclude.
Chief Judge Shareef’s lawyers originally requested the Civil Court invalidate JSC’s suspension but the court there was no reason to issue such an injunction.
In May the JSC ‘indefinitely suspended’ the Chief Judge over a complaint filed against the judge last year.
During a press conference held by the commission to announce its decision, JSC Chair and Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla insisted that the disciplinary action had no relation to the ongoing High Court case filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed contesting the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench, appointed by the JSC.
According to Justice Adam Mohamed, the suspension was a “precautionary” measure while investigation of the complaint was proceeding.
“There are no legal grounds to stop looking into a complaint submitted [to the commission] or halt proceedings,” he said.
Shortly after the suspension, attorneys representing the High Court Chief Judge led by former Attorney General and President of Maldives Bar Association Husnu Al Suood filed a lawsuit at the Civil Court challenging the suspension.
Suood said Chief Judge Shareef had been suspended in contradiction of existing laws, and the decision undermined the independence a judge requires in executing his legal duties.
He said the Chief Judge’s team of counsels will plead in court that the decision by the JSC was an attempt to unduly exercise influence over judges. He also added that once the case is registered at the Civil Court, a request will be made at the Supreme Court to take over the case, as has been the previous practice.
“That is not a small thing when you get a suspension after one year. Suspending a country’s Chief High Court Judge is not a small thing,” Suood told local media.
He also said the JSC’s passing a motion to suspend the judge with a vote of just three members – two of whom represented the executive – led to presumption that the vote had been influenced.
According to local media reports, the call for an indefinite suspension of the Chief Judge was proposed to the JSC by the incumbent Attorney General Aishath Bisham – who is yet to receive parliament’s consent following her appointment – and was passed by the vote of three members out of the 10-member commission.
“There is reason to believe this decision had political motives behind it,” Suood claimed at the time.