No legal grounds to question Speaker’s JSC membership: Majlis secretariat

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There are no legal grounds to question whether Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid should remain in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) whilst seeking re-election, the People’s Majlis secretariat said in a press release today.

The statement follows Majlis’ removal last week of its representative to the judicial oversight body, MP Ahmed Hamza, who is also seeking re-election.

In a letter informing the commission of Hamza’s removal last week, Speaker Shahid said the decision was made in reference to Article 10 of the JSC Act, which stipulates that a commission member will lose his seat if he stands in an election.

Both Shahid and Hamza are contesting in the upcoming parliamentary polls on opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) tickets.

The Majlis statement explained that Article 161(b) of the constitution “clearly shows” that a member appointed to the 10-member commission by virtue of his office (ex officio) would remain a member as long as he holds the post.

The article states that the speaker, the attorney general, and the chair of the civil service commission would remain “a member of the Judicial Service Commission only as long as that office is held.”

“Therefore, as the person in the post of speaker of the People’s Majlis is a member of the commission by virtue of office, there is no room to raise legal questions over whether he will remain a member of the Judicial Service Commission as long as he is in the [speaker’s post],” the press release stated in conclusion.

The statement was issued following media reports casting doubt on Shahid’s membership on the judicial watchdog.

Hamza meanwhile told Minivan News last week that the speaker and Majlis representative should be exempted from Article 10 “as it creates a legal vacuum.”

Prior to the speaker’s decision to remove him from the commission, JSC President and Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla sent letters to both Hamza and President Abdulla Yameen claiming that the MPs’ position was vacant following his submission of candidacy papers to the Elections Commission.

Hamza responded by contending that Adam Mohamed’s attempt to remove him was intended to reduce the number of members who advocated for judicial reform and to block an investigation into Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed’s sex tape scandal.

Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman – the public’s representative on the JSC  – has also accused Justice Adam Mohamed of stalling the JSC’s investigation into the sex tapes.

Adam Mohamed had refused to schedule a vote on whether to suspend Hameed following his refusal to cooperate with the investigation, Hamza said.

“The JSC cannot be productive as long as Adam Mohamed remains the president,” he said. “I call on the public to pressure the JSC to table the motion to suspend Ali Hameed.”