President’s member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and whistle-blower Aishath Velezinee has presented documents to the Supreme Court she claims provide evidence that the JSC has forged documents for the hearing over High Court appointments.
The JSC is currently in the Supreme Court defending its appointment of five high court judges – current Juvenile Court Chief Judge Shuaib Hussein Zakariya, former Law Commission member Dr Azmiralda Zahir, Civil Court registrar Abdu Rauf Ibrahim, lawyer of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Abbas Shareef and Civil Court Chief Judge Ali Sameer.
The Supreme Court took over the case from the Civil Court in January, after several judges who were not appointed raised concern that there were policy and legal issues related to the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) appointment procedures, such as giving higher priority to appointees on the basis of gender.
The documents concern JSC resolution B1/11/24, passed at the 22nd sitting of JSC on the evening February 6, 2011, informing the Supreme Court that Vice Chair Dr Afrasheem Ali would represent the JSC in the High Court appointments matter.
The resolution carries the signatures of six JSC members, three of whom Velezinee contends were not even present at the meeting of February 6, 2011 when the resolution was supposedly passed.
“The JSC sent a text message calling a meeting on Sunday evening at 7:00pm, and then changed the time to 7:30pm. I was there at 7:00pm, and only four members turned up including myself, Dr Afrasheem Ali, Chief Judge of the High Court Abdul Ghani Mohamed, and Ahmed Rasheed from the law community,” Velezinee says. “I stayed until 8:00pm, to make sure.”
With only four members present, the meeting failed to reach the JSC’s six member quorum.
“The JSC’s regulations state that after a meeting is called, if we do not reach quorum within 15 minutes from the scheduled time, then the meeting is cancelled. On Sunday evening we had no meeting because we didn’t meet quorum with only four members present.”
When Velezinee later requested to see the attendance record for the February she discovered a fifth signature – that of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi – had allegedly been added to the official records.
That still was not enough enough to reach the JSC’s quorum, so Velezinee says she was surprised to see six signatures in the submission to the Supreme Court passing the resolution – including those of Member of the Public Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman and Civil Service Commission member Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, neither of whom attended the meeting on February 6.
Velezinee further claimed to have audio recordings of conversations between the JSC and the two absent members who signed the resolution, arranging for the resolution to be sent out to their homes for them to sign.
“The submission to the Supreme Court very clearly states: ‘this resolution was adopted February 6, on the 22nd sitting of the JSC by majority vote of those members who attended’,” Velezinee said.
Fahmy told Minivan News he had no comment on the matter, while Dr Afrasheem Ali referred Minivan News to the JSC’s media spokesperson, Hassan Zaheen. Zaheen referred Minivan News to the JSC interim Secretary General, Abdul Faththah, also the JSC’s legal representative.
Faththah said that while there “should be quorum”, in time-sensitive matters such as court summons members sometimes had to make decisions outside formal meetings, with the approval of other members.
“This is not a matter so important to take a decision with the discussion of the members,” he said.
JSC members had also previously decided who should attend court hearings, during a meeting of full attendance, he added, “[but] that day the Chair was not in Male’, so members decided instead that the Deputy [Afrasheem] should attend [court],” acknowledging that “they may not have had quorum that time.”
“These kind of things happen with things like court attendance issues, but no other decisions,” he said.
Supreme Court case
“Today was the last hearing before the Supreme Court’s verdict [in the case],” Velezinee said. “I sent two letters, a copy of the attendance sheet and the resolution to all five Supreme Court judges and informed them that it was a forged document.”
“The JSC seems to think there is no procedure to gain a majority. That was exactly what they did with Article 285. But when we are talking about a democracy with laws of transparency and accountability, there are procedures to follow to get a majority – otherwise it becomes mob rule.
“Anyone can run around and intimidate people to get signatures, but that is not how an independent constitutional body such as the Judicial Services commission should be working. if the integrity of the Judicial Services Commission is under question, there is no reason why people should trust the judiciary.”
Velezinee has previously alleged that practices such as “manipulating the agenda, manipulating meeting times, withholding information and trying to manipulate decisions by providing misleading information.”
“This is classic, but this time they have been caught in the act,” she claimed.
The outspoken whistle-blower, who was hospitalised on January 3 after she was stabbed three times in the back in broad daylight on the main tourist street of Male’, expressed frustration with the slow acknowledgement that “the JSC by its actions causing the public to mistrust judges and the judiciary – the JSC is permitting impunity among judges.”
“Nobody from any civilised country would believe you if you said that judges and MPs were lying. Chief judges, high court judges – you expect office bearers to be working in the interest of citizens and the state. But here we have a judiciary that seems to think the whole country is out to attack them. That has happened because we have not established a judiciary according to the constitution.”
All the current sitting judges were, Velezinee said, “hand-picked without due process, often for their personal and political connections. We have all the documents to prove it, but JSC is hiding from it. They say: ‘the constitution says we are an independent commission’. But it’s not what the constitution says, it’s how you act. Why not simply eliminate crime by rewriting the constitution so it says there is no crime in this country?”
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is currently investigating the JSC for embezzling state funds by awarding itself over Rf 500,000 in ‘committee allowances’, contrary to Article 164 of the Constitution.
Velezinee has also requested police investigate JSC President and Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla, JSC Vice Chair and MP (DRP-PA) DrAfraasheem Ali, Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi, Speaker of Parliament (DRP-PA) Abdulla Shahid, former JSC President and interim Supreme Court judge (now removed) Mujuthaaz Fahmy, and Former Civil Service Commission President and current member of Civil Service Commission Dr Mohamed Latheef.
The charges filed included accusations that some MPs were influencing courts and judges “for personal gain and profit”, subverting the rule of law and obstructing the JSC from conducting its constitutional duties, “committing and attempting to commit crimes against the State using JSC and the courts as tools”, and defamation against her “with criminal intent”.
Download the documents presented by Velezinee to the Supreme Court (Dhivehi)