JSC amends criteria for judicial appointments

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has issued a statement amending the educational and experience criteria for the appointment of judges.

Judges appointed to courts in Male’ must have either a degree, masters degree or PhD in Islamic Shariah, law or Shariah law, and at least three years/two years/six months experience in a law-related field, depending on their respective level of qualification.

President Nasheed’s member on the JSC, Aishath Velezinie, said the criteria did not apply for existing judges and would only affect new appointments, a condition not mentioned in the JSC’s press statement.

“Of the 207 of the judges currently in office, 39 have degrees or higher. Some left school before grade seven, meaning they haven’t completed primary school,” she noted.

“The rest have certificates that were tailor-made to familiarise them with the previous constitution. Judges do not have the means, resources or access to knowledge to enforce the current constitution, and this [statement] looks like a way of confusing people into thinking that the JSC is addressing the issue.”

President Mohamed Nasheed recently made an official request to the JSC to review and amend the guidelines governing the educational qualifications of judges, criticising the existing criteria as setting the bar too low.

“For the standard to determine educational qualification, they are saying [judges must possess] a certificate in either law or Shariah, and even if the certificate is not accredited by the Maldives Accreditation Board, it must be a certificate of at least level three or higher accepted by the government”, he said.

The minimum educational qualification for judges approved by the JSC was therefore “essentially grade seven”.

The Judges Association of Maldives (JAM) condemned President Mohamed Nasheed criticism of the JSC decision on determining guidelines for the reappointment of sitting judges, warning his interference could “render the separation of powers obsolete”.

Velezinie meanwhile said she had hope that all sides of parliament would come together to address the matter.

The JSC had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.