Amendments to Judicature Act submitted on request of President Nasheed, says Reeko Moosa

Deputy Speaker of Parliament MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has alleged that amendments to the Judicature Act, which facilitated the removal of two Supreme Court judges, were submitted on the request of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“[MDP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’] Shareef told me personally that the amendments to the Judicature Act were submitted on the request of President Nasheed,” explained the Hulhuhenveiru MP.

Moosa also alleged that neither the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) nor President Nasheed had formally asked MP Shareef to withdraw his amendments.

The former MDP chair was speaking to Minivan News regarding his appeal against the party’s decision to dismiss him for repeatedly breaching the three-line whip – twice during the removal of the judges.

President Nasheed has denied Moosa’s allegations, telling Minivan News: “I did not ask Shareef to submit any bill”.

Moosa suggested that Nasheed – currently the party’s president – was aware he would violate the whip if a situation arose in which Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz was to be defended, therefore initiating a process which would eventually result in the MP’s dismissal.

He has explained his position, arguing that the dismissed chief justice had done great harm to the party, not least when swearing in Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed without question following Nasheed’s controversial resignation of the presidency in February 2012.

During Faiz’s tenure, the Supreme Court bench had stripped three MDP MPs of their membership and annulled the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013, Moosa has previously explained.

The removal of Faiz and Muthasim Adnan was condemned as unconstitutional by numerous local and international organisations, who have said the move compromises the independence of the judiciary.

Moosa reiterated his belief that the real reason for his dismissal from the party was that he had announced his intention to contest the MDP presidential primaries of 2018.

“I attended a meeting with Shareef at President Nasheed’s office to discuss about the amendments (to the Judicature Act). Nasheed did not request Shareef withdraw it.”

When contacted by Minivan News today, Shareef – who submitted the amendments to the Judicature Act in November – refused to confirm Moosa’s claims, saying that he did not wish to comment on the matter for the time being.

The MDP’s national executive council rejected Shareef’s amendments which were subsequently approved with the support of government-aligned parties in the Majlis. Shareef himself eventually voted against both the amendment and the judges’ removal.

Moosa has also questioned the legitimacy of his dismissal from MDP, noting that current party Chairperson Ali Waheed had not officially informed the Majlis

“If my dismissal is serious and legitimate why has it not been done? This also points to the fact that there is something not right about this whole disciplinary committee business”.

Disciplinary Committee decision

The MDP’s disciplinary committee expelled Moosa on December 22, stating that he would be required to issue a public apology and obtain 50 new members for the party should he wish to rejoin.

The committee has, however, barred Moosa from standing for any leadership position or contesting in party primaries for five years.

When asked why he chose to appeal the disciplinary committee’s decision through the MDP’s internal mechanisms despite having stated that he does not trust the party’s appeal process, Moosa asked: “What else is there to do? I would never take MDP to court, I would never do that”.

Moosa has also lodged a complaint with the Elections Commission (EC), which confirmed it has received the case.

Additionally, Moosa said he did not believe that a five-member disciplinary committee could expel him, noting that the dismissal of former MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice president Alhan Fahmy was deliberated upon by the party’s National Council.

Moosa also claimed that that the party can only issue whips regarding the way in which votes are to be cast, and not on attendance at the parliament.

The disciplinary committee’s demand that he submit new membership forms when joining the party was also against the MDP’s standing orders, he added,

According to Article 114 of MDP’s constitution: “The disciplinary committee has the authority to warn, fine, suspend and expel parties proven guilty of” violating the party’s constitution, regulations, or damaging the party’s aims or reputation.

In explaining the timeline of events which preceded the parliamentary vote to dismiss the Supreme Court judges, Moosa said he had requested the parliamentary group hold a meeting to further discuss the issue.

Meanwhile in accordance with MDP’s disciplinary committee’s decision regarding the five other MDP MPs who broke the whip for the judges’ removal, their apology letters were published on the MDP’s website yesterday (4 December).

Related to this story

Reeko Moosa appeals to MDP disciplinary committee after dismissal

Reeko Moosa condemns MDP expulsion as a move to bar his 2018 presidential candidacy

Majlis removes Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Muthasim Adnan from Supreme Court


JSC’s transfer of superior court judges termed “unlawful” by Chief Justice

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain has stated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)’s transfer of superior court judges to other courts is unlawful.

Following the JSC’s decision to transfer Judge Abdulla Mohamed from his post as Criminal Court Chief Judge to the same position in the Drug Court on Monday, Faiz sent a letter to the president of the judicial watchdog Adam Mohamed on Tuesday stating that the commission did not have the legal authority to carry out such transfers.

Faiz subsequently deemed such decisions made by JSC to be “unlawful”.

The letter states that although Article 159(a) gives the JSC the authority to appoint, promote or transfer judges other than those from the Supreme Court, it “must not be interpreted as an absolute right”.

He then stated that the Judges’ Act mandates any transfer of a judge from his appointed court can only be carried out following deliberation with the Judicial Council.

The Judicial Council, meanwhile, is compiled of the seven judges sitting on the Supreme Court bench. Faiz stated in his letter that no judge should be transferred without consulting the Supreme Court first.

The Senior Legal and Complaints Officer Hassan Faheem Ibrahim – acting head at the JSC – confirmed to Minivan News that the commission had received the letter today.

“Since it is the Chief Justice who has sent this letter, we will not have any views on it or comments to make about it. It is the commission who will decide after they have deliberated on the matter. No meetings for the matter have been scheduled yet,” Faheem said.

Article 159(a) of the Maldives Constitution states that “The Judicial Services Commission is entrusted with the responsibility and power to appoint, promote and transfer Judges other the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, and to make recommendations to the President on the appointment of the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court.

Article 49 of the Judges’ Act refers to temporary transfer of judges from one court to another and states “Temporary appointment of a Judge to preside over cases in a court will be decided upon by the Judicial Services Commission under the advice of the Judicial Council”.

Speaking to Minivan News on Monday, appointee from the Parliament to the JSC, Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ahmed Hamza said that about eight judges have so far been transferred from the courts they previously presided over. He added that the decision to transfer Judge Abdulla Mohamed was made to strengthen the courts by transferring experienced judges to different courts so as to spread knowledge and expertise.

Judge Abdulla Mohamed has previously been under investigation from the JSC, for allegations of ethical misconduct and obstruction of corruption investigations among others.

The decision of President Mohamed Nasheed to detain Mohamed in January 2012 fuelled a series of protests by then-opposition political parties, eventually leading to a police and military mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation.


Adhaalath Party MP calls on Supreme Court to “temporarily ban” MDP

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party MP Ibrahim Muthalib has called on the Supreme Court protect itself from derogatory remarks by temporarily banning the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

While briefing the press yesterday (October 13), Muthalib stated that the MDP was a militant organisation working to destroy the nation and its religion.

He stressed that it was imperative and necessary for Supreme Court to take action in defending the nation and Islam.

“Supreme Court needs to self-initiate a ruling to ban the MDP for a couple of days. All these things will be sorted out if [the Supreme Court] bans the MDP. If the court does not resort to such measures, these problems [of defaming the Supreme Court] will continue,” Muthalib suggested.

“Firstly, they survived in Maldivian politics by speaking of the thirty-year autocratic rule [of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] for four years. From 2004 to 2008, the only thing that these people spoke of was about those thirty years.” explained Muthalib.

“Now, it is the Supreme Court [which MDP has targeted].”

The remarks came shortly after Adhaalath had publicly announced its support for the Supreme Court case to bar MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed from competing in the presidential elections scheduled for Saturday (October 19).

The case, filed by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Council Member Ibrahim ‘Wadde’ Waheed and President of the ‘Madhanee Iththihaadh’ (Civil Alliance) Sheikh Mohamed Didi, was quickly condemned by incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

The PPM leadership also announced it was in negotiation with its own council member to withdraw the case.

Nasheed himself has repeatedly maintained that such attempts would not succeed and that such efforts were “not even newsworthy”. His MDP has meanwhile described Muthalib’s remarks as being against against all democratic norms.

Chief Justice overpowered by the MDP, Nasheed a criminal

Muthalib also went onto criticise Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain – one of the three judges to have opposed the decision to annul the first round of the presidential election – claiming that he had been “overpowered” by the MDP.

He reminded Faiz that he was not appointed to the Supreme Court by Nasheed, but rather it was “Allah who had given him that post through his will”.

The Adhaalath MP urged the Chief Justice to work independently and without bias. He did, however, point out that his remarks did not represent the official view of the Adhaalath Party.

When asked about the remarks made by Muthalib during the press conference, the Vice President of Adhaalath Party, Dr Mauroof Hussain said that it was up to the Elections Commission to take action against the MDP, though he did condemn the party’s criticism of the court.

“Where else in the world [does] a political party do such things? A political party has called to disregard a ruling issued by the highest court of law in the country. If such a thing is carried out in any other democratic party, be it a political party or a state institution, they would face immediate dissolution,” Mauroof told the press.

MP Muthalib himself has been linked to several controversies, both for his frequent party switching and his remarks in parliament.

He was originally elected to parliament as an independent candidate – despite being a member of Adhaalath – before joining the Jumhooree Party (JP) in 2011.

Just months later, however, he resigned from the party, rejoining the Adhaalath Party.

Last November 2012, Muthalib made a call in parliament for former President Nasheed’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussain Zaki to be “hanged to death” as a “traitor to the Maldives”.

He is also a sponsor of the bill seeking amendment to the Clemency Act that if passed would would require any death sentence then upheld by the Supreme Court to be carried out. The bill is still pending in parliament.

Responding to the remarks, MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News today (October 14) that the Adhaalath Party was working not only against the progress of the country, but also against human nature.

“These people do not comprehend the fact that we are now living in the 21st century. This country has fully adopted and accepted the multiparty political system… Their backward thinking will lead them to their fateful end as people are not ready to accept such remarks,” Fahmy told Minivan News.

Fahmy also pointed out that the people were not willing to support political parties that are attempting to drag the country back to the dictatorship of former President Gayoom.

“These kind of remarks made by such immature political parties is one reason behind the immense support gained by the MDP. The people know that it was the MDP and its supporters who paid the price to bring in democratic reforms in the country that allowed the people to freely voice their political opinion. Calling to ban the MDP is an attempt to destroy the democracy in the Maldives,” He added.


India offers support in training of Maldivian judiciary

The Indian government has offered to assist in training judicial officers and judges in the formation of rules and regulations, reports the Times of India.

According to the report, the offer was conveyed to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain on Monday by the Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain is on a five day official visit to India at the invitation of the Chief Justice of India, Altmas Kabir.

According to Indian media reports, Faiz Hussain is set to take part with the Chief Justice of India and other Supreme Court Judges which will also be attended by Indian Law Minister Kapil Sibal and External Affairs Minister Khurshid.

The reports also claimed that Hussain is expected to travel to Bhopal, to observe the functioning and operation of India’s National Judicial Academy.

The Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) had previously announced plans to set up a Judicial Training Academy in the Villimale ward of Male’, with India is expected to establish ties between the two academies.

During a dinner hosted by Khurshid in honor of Chief Justice Hussain, the Indian external affairs minister claimed India was privileged to work closely and partner the people of Maldives in their nation building efforts.

Khurshid also noted that Maldives had undertaken reforms necessary for the independent functioning of the judiciary and other organs of the state.

In her final report to the UN Human Rights Council, United Nation’s Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Independence of Judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul expressed “deep concern” over the failure of the judicial system to address “serious violations of human rights” during the Maldives’ 30 year dictatorship, warning of “more instability and unrest” should this continue to be neglected.

“It is indeed difficult to understand why one former President is being tried for an act he took outside of his prerogative, while another has not had to answer for any of the alleged human rights violations documented over the years,” read the report.

The report is a comprehensive overview of the state of the Maldivian judiciary and its watchdog body, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Knaul examines the judiciary’s handling of the trial of former President Nasheed, the controversial reappointment of unqualified judges in 2010, and the politicisation of the JSC.

Knaul also examines parliament’s failure to pass critical pieces of legislation needed for the proper functioning of the judiciary and “legal certainty”, as well as raises serious concerns about an impending budget catastrophe facing the judicial system.

“The immediate implications of the budget cuts on the judiciary are appalling. For instance, the Department of Judicial Administration only has funds to pay staff salaries until November 2013 and it had to cancel training this year,” Knaul notes.

“The Civil Court reported that it would not have sufficient funds to pay its staff salaries after October 2013; furthermore, existing budgetary resources would not be sufficient to pay for utilities and facilities after June 2013,” she added.

The government of Maldives responded to the report by issuing a statement inferring that UN Special Rapporteur had undermined the country’s sovereignty and legal jurisdiction in her report on the state of the country’s judiciary.

The government on May 28 issued a statement via its Permanent Representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam.

“Engagement between national governments and international actors should not undermine national jurisdiction and the court system of any country, especially relating to ongoing cases,” reads the statement.

In light of this the Maldivian delegation, said Adam, “wishes to discuss specific matters contained in the report with the rapporteur.”

At the same time the statement “welcomed” the UN Rapporteur’s report and “fully acknowledge[s] that the various challenges she has identified and raised in her report are in fact the residue challenges present in a system in the midst of democratic consolidation.

The Maldives judicial system continues to be hampered by structural deficiencies and resource constraints in addressing the difficult challenges facing the country in general.”

Read the UN Special Rapporteur’s full report


Supreme Court Judge asked me to file case against Nasheed, alleges sacked Human Rights Minister

Sacked Human Rights Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed has sent a letter to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain requesting that he investigate a Supreme Court judge, whom she alleged requested that she file a case against former President Mohamed Nasheed in a bid to prevent him from running for presidency in the 2013 presidential elections.

The former SAARC Secretary General’s claims follow the High Court’s rejection of a petition filed by her and a team of lawyers, requesting the court look into the legality behind the controversial transfer of power that took place in February 2012.

The High Court rejected the case on the grounds that it did not have jurisdiction to look into the matter. Saeed was later quoted in the media saying that she would file the case at the Supreme Court.

Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru on Monday, Saeed said that although her intention was to file the case at the Supreme Court, it was highly unlikely that justice would be served at the court.

This, she claimed, was due to the fact that her case had a strong connection with former President Nasheed’s alleged illegally obtained resignation, and that a judge on the Supreme Court bench had expressed to her that he had personal scores to settle with Nasheed.

According to Saeed, the said judge had personally instructed her on what cases she should file against the former President. Saeed alleged the instructions were given at a meeting held in the judge’s house at his request following Nasheed’s resignation.

Supreme Court Judge issues instructions to file cases should be filed against Nasheed

Among the suggestions allegedly given by the judge included filing a case concerning Nasheed’s decision to remove eight members appointed to parliament by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, prior to the ratification of the constitution.

In March 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the removal of the eight presidential appointees in late 2008 by incoming President Mohamed Nasheed – who replaced the eight with his own appointees – was unconstitutional and ordered the state to compensate the MPs for salaries and allowances due for the remainder of the last parliamentary session.

Following the ruling, the state was ordered to pay approximately MVR 500,000 (US$32,425) for each of the eight Gayoom appointed MPs, totalling up to MVR 4 million (US$ 311,284.05).

Another suggestion included refiling a case filed by Jumhoree Party (JP) Youth Wing Leader Moosa Anwar in 2008 against Nasheed. This case claimed that Nasheed was convicted and sentenced for theft – a ‘Hadd’ offence under Sharia’ law – in similar bid to bar his candidacy in 2008 Presidential elections.

However, the Supreme Court on October 2008 declared that Nasheed was eligible to contest the election and that Nasheed was not sentenced on a Hadd offence.

Saeed declined to reveal the name of the judge but said he was “involved” in the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the legitimacy of the controversially-formed Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

In December 2012, the Supreme Court declared that the Hulhumale Magistrate Court – created by the Judicial Services Commission – was legitimate and could operate as a court of law.

The court’s legitimacy was declared by a majority of four out of the seven member Supreme Court bench.

Judges Abdulla Saeed, Ali Hameed Abdulla, Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi voted in favour of the court’s legitimacy, while Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Judge Abdulla Areef and Judge Mu’uthazim Adnan had dissenting views. Judge Adam Mohamed – also president of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), responsible for creating the court and appointing the judges in the Nasheed trial – cast the deciding vote.

Saeed on Monday claimed she was yet to receive response from the Chief Justice regarding the complaint.

“I have no knowledge as to whether that case is either considered or whether it is being looked into,” she said.

Saeed claimed that the specific judge must refrain from hearing any case linking with former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation and transfer of power in 2012, including the case she intends to file at the court.

“Judges should refrain from personal interests and bias; his rulings should be impartial. So, when a judge specifically speaks of preventing a specific person from getting elected to president, that means that he is biased,” Saeed said. “That is grossly inconsistent with the principles of justice.”

Speaking to local TV station Raajje TV on Monday evening, Saeed claimed that she only decided to talk about the matter after what happened with the case concerning the legitimacy of Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

“After realising how unfair it is for a judge like that to sit in the bench and decide the case regarding Hulhumale Magistrate Court, which is so closely related to Nasheed’s trial, I decided to speak out in public. Otherwise, I would have taken this to grave, and never mention it,” Saeed told the local TV station.

The judge who wanted to settle scores with me should be found and removed: President Nasheed

Following Saeed’s allegations, former President Mohamed Nasheed said that Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should find the judge which Saeed was speaking of, and remove him from the Supreme Court bench.

During a campaign rally held at Henveiru ward of Male City, Nasheed said that it was pointless for Chief Justice to talk of the judiciary while having knowledge of such discrepancies within the courts.

“The [Chief Justice] must look into this. A judge sitting in his court room is asking a lawyer to file a case against a President. When he is given a letter regarding such discrepancy, he should look into it. It is important that the JSC find who this judge is and dismiss him. He is not fit to be a judge,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed further said that Maldivian laws do not allow biased judges to sit in courts, and repeated his call for judicial reform.

“Neither the law nor the public wants a judge who often picks sides, distances himself and deliberately disregards the rules of justice in settling matters to remain as a judge in the court room,” he said.

The “noble Jihad”

However, on Sunday both Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain and JSC President Adam Mohamed both claimed that “nobody can meddle with the Supreme Court”.

Both the Supreme Court judges contended that nobody could change the Supreme Court bench or remove a Supreme Court judge unless the position became vacant as per the law.

“By the will of Allah, the Supreme Court bench will prevail as long as the Maldives remains a democracy. The bench cannot be changed. A change to the Supreme Court bench can only be brought if a judge’s position becomes vacant,” Justice Faiz said at the time.

Meanwhile Adam Mohamed also called on state institutions to refrain from interfering with the work done by the courts or do anything that could “impact the fairness and impartiality” of the JSC.

“I call upon you not to forget the fact that you are carrying out a very noble jihad in the name of Allah in delivering justice to the people,” he told the judges.


Calls for religious tolerance “shocked the nation”: Chief Justice Faiz

The December 10 silent protest for religious tolerance is a “warning” of the Maldives’ weakening Islamic faith, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussein has said.

Faiz’s claim that the demonstration “shocked the nation” was made yesterday at the opening of the Islamic Scholars Symposium, reports local media.

“It was a warning that showed us the increased role religious scholars are required to play and the work they need to do,” he said.

Recommending that the scholars focus on strengthening the Islamic faith rather than debate contentious issues, Faiz said students and lawmakers required further education about the Shariah penal code.

The December 10 demonstration was originally planned for International Human Rights Day as a peaceful, silent protest. However, the 30 participants were attacked with stones, and blogger Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed was taken to the hospital with head injuries.

Rasheed was subsequently arrested without charges following requests from religious NGOs and ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik that police investigate the demonstration.

Rasheed’s detention was extended a second time last week, after Reporters Without Borders (RSF) criticised the claim that the gathering had violated national laws, and Amnesty International declared Rasheed a prisoner of conscience.

Meanwhile, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari has requested the parliamentary National Security Committee to include appropriate punishments for those who call for religious freedom in the nation’s penal code. In discussions, he said the punishments available under Penal Code Article 88(a), (b) and (c) were “soft.”

Bari previously ordered the Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) to shut down Rasheed’s blog on the grounds that it contained anti-Islamic content.

This weekend’s Scholars Symposium is attended by 60 scholars who are debating seven key points of contention, reports Haveeru.

Points include the method for handling controversial religious issues; the formation of prayer rows between mosque pillars; alms payment; the Qunooth prayer; and the traditions of the Prophet Mohamed.

According to local media, the conference is the biggest of its kind to be held in the Maldives. Originally scheduled for January it was allegedly postponed for reasons unspecified.

The conference comes one week after a coalition of religious NGOs and opposition parties rallied thousands across the country to “defend Islam”, setting off a game of chicken with the government which has lately put the tourism industry on the chopping block.

President Mohamed Nasheed attended yesterday’s opening ceremony.

Religious conservative Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla and several other scholars from the party are participating in the conference.

Members of Adhaalath Party and Minister Bari were unavailable for comment at time of press.