JSC denies reports of ethical misconduct case against new prosecutor general

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has denied allegations made by opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV that it had found Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin guilty of ethical misconduct.

Muhsin was approved as the new prosecutor general by parliament yesterday following his nomination to the vacant post by President Abdulla Yameen and sworn in at a ceremony this morning.

In a press release on Sunday (July 20), the judicial watchdog body said it had not “concluded any complaints” against Muhsin.

“[T]he news reported by Raajje.mv and Raajje TV claiming that [Muhsin] has been found guilty of ethical misconduct is false and the commission regrets with concern that such false information has been disseminated,” the press release stated.

The JSC explained that complaints against judges are scrutinised by the commission’s complaints and investigation section, which submits a report to the ten-member commission for consideration.

The commission then decides to take disciplinary action following further investigation by a subcommittee after offering a 30-day period for the accused judge to respond.

JSC Spokesperson Hassan Zaheen told Minivan News yesterday that the commission could not confirm whether a complaint had been filed against a specific judge.

The JSC provides information to the public once an investigation has been completed and a decision made regarding a complaint, he explained.

“Anyone can submit complaints about judges, even if a person did not like the way a judge was walking on the street for example,” he said.

Judges “could not live in this country” if the JSC revealed to the media when a complaint has been lodged against a judge, Zaheen suggested.

Leaked report

Raajje TV reported this week that an investigative report into a complaint filed against Muhsin in April 2010 was completed on May 30 this year.

The leaked report showed that a subcommittee found Muhsin had violated ethical standards by allegedly attempting to prevent a suspect arrested for theft from being held in remand detention.

Muhsin allegedly called the investigating police officer and Criminal Court judges at the behest of the suspect’s wife.

In testimony to the JSC subcommittee, the police officer allegedly said that Muhsin had called him asking whether the suspect was in police custody and had sought information regarding the case.

The television station has stood by its news report, noting that the leaked investigation report bore the JSC letterhead.

Raajje TV also noted that opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MPs who evaluated Muhsin’s nomination in the parliament oversight committee had requested that information of the complaint be sought from the JSC.

However, the pro-government majority on the independent institutions oversight committee rejected the proposal.

Meanwhile, according to local media, the case in question involved former Chief Inspector Mirfath Faiz, whose husband was arrested for stealing a mobile phone in 2010.

In a Civil Court case over her subsequent dismissal from the Maldives Police Service, the Attorney General’s Office informed the court that Faiz had called Muhsin to save her husband from being taken to the Criminal Court to have his detention extended .


The JSC is tasked by the constitution with investigating complaints and taking disciplinary action against judges.

According to the JSC’s annual report for 2013, the commission has yet to conclude investigations or make a decision regarding 106 cases, which were pending at the end of last year, including one complaint dating back to 2008 and four complaints from 2009.

Other pending cases included 13 complaints from 2010, 16 complaints from 2011, 17 complaints from 2012 and 55 complaints from 2013.

The complaints against judges involved allegations of bias, lack of integrity, behavioural misconduct, discrimination, incompetence, procedural violations, inordinate delays in concluding cases, and breach of law and the constitution.

In a comprehensive report on the Maldivian judiciary released in May 2013, UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, noted that there was consensus on the view that the current composition of the JSC was “inadequate and politicised”.

“Because of this politicisation, the commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly,” she wrote.

Moreover, the lack of transparency regarding proceedings over complaints, the criteria used to initiate proceedings, and JSC decisions “nourishes serious allegations of selectivity in the management of complaints.”


Majlis approves Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin for prosecutor general post

The People’s Majlis has today approved Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin for the post of prosecutor general (PG).

Muhsin’s nomination for the role – vacant since November – received 62 votes in favour, and seven votes against, while 12 MPs abstained.

President Abdulla Yameen had nominated Muhsin and his nephew Maumoon Hameed for parliamentary approval on June 2. As Muhsin’s name was put to a vote first and approved, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed did not call a vote for Hameed.

Thirteen MPs of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also voted in favour of Muhsin.

They were Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam, Felidhoo MP Ahmed Marzooq, Hithadhoo South MP Ali Nizar, mid-Hithadhoo MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, Hulhuhenveiru MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Komandoo MP Ahmed Nashid, Kulhudhufushi North MP Abdul Gafoor Moosa, Kurendhoo MP Abdul Bari Abdulla, Addu Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef, mid-Henveiru MP Ali Azim, Mulaku MP Ibrahim Naseer, Vaikaradhoo MP Mohamed Nazim, and Velidhoo MP Abdulla Yameen.

While the Jumhooree Party (JP) decided today that its 12 MPs would abstain in the vote, JP MP for Kendhoo Ali Hussain voted in favour of Muhsin.

MDP MP for Alifushi, Mohamed Rasheed Hussain ‘Bigey’, joined the remaining 11 JP MPs in abstaining while all seven MPs who voted against Muhsin belonged to the opposition MDP.

The MDP parliamentary group had reportedly decided last night to issue a three-line whip against Hameed and to give its 23 MPs a free whip to vote as they chose for Muhsin.

With 20 MPs in attendance at parliamentary group meeting last night, the proposal by Deputy Speaker Moosa Manik was passed with 13 votes in favour.

Meanwhile, at a parliamentary group meeting on Saturday (July 19), MPs of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) decided to endorse Muhsin despite the party’s leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, urging ruling party MPs to vote for his nephew Maumoon Hameed.

Majority Leader MP Ahmed Nihan confirmed to Minivan News that a three-line whip was also issued for PPM MPs to vote for Muhsin.

All PPM MPs in attendance along with MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) voted in favour of approving Muhsin as the new PG.


Maumoon Hameed and Muhthaz MuhsinMaumoon Hameed has meanwhile criticised the PPM MPs’ decision on his Facebook page.

“The reasoning behind the decision of the PPM parliamentary group this afternoon apparently went something like this: ‘He won’t do as he’s told!'” he wrote.

“Given this reasoning, and the evident desire to install a puppet instead of someone who will uphold the law without fear or favour, I applaud the decision to endorse someone (anyone!) other than me.”

Responding to the post, former MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed alleged that PPM MPs on the independent institutions oversight committee were instructed to award zero percent to Hameed and 100 percent to Muhsin  during the vetting process.

Following evaluation of the nominees at a closed session based on academic qualifications, experience, and competence, the oversight committee awarded Hameed 33 percent and Muhsin 67 percent and decided against recommending either nominee for approval.

In a letter to PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Nihan demanding an explanation of the PPM-majority committee’s decision, Gayoom had contended that the committee meeting where the nominees were interviewed was conducted in violation of parliamentary rules.

In the wake of the PPM parliamentary group’s decision to vote for Muhsin, MDP MP Rozaina Adam meanwhile tweeted, “Could President Yameen publicly humiliate President Gayoom more than this? Yameen’s choice is very clear.”

Vacant PG post

Rozaina also alleged that Yameen had conspired for the previous parliament to reject Maumoon Hameed in April by ensuring that several PPM MPs would be absent for the vote.

Several pro-government MPs – including Nihan who was with President Yameen in Japan and MDA Leader Ahmed Siyam – were conspicuously absent at the sitting, which saw  Hameed fail to garner the required 39 votes after falling just three votes short.

According to Article 221 of the Constitution, “The President shall appoint as Prosecutor General a person approved by a majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis from the names submitted to the People’s Majlis as provided for in law.”

Following the previous parliament’s rejection of Hameed, President Yameen refused to submit a new nominee and opened up a third call for applicants, announcing his intention to nominate Hameed for a second time to the newly elected 18th People’s Majlis.

The PG’s post has been vacant since November 25 following the resignation of Ahmed Muiz ahead of a scheduled no-confidence motion in parliament.

Meanwhile, Acting PG Hussein Shameem’s resignation in early May brought the criminal justice system to a halt after state prosecutors went on strike, citing concerns of a lack of accountability in the absence of a PG.

However, the Supreme Court ordered prosecutors to resume work “without any further excuse” and ordered the seniormost official at the PG office to assume the PG’s responsibilities.