Police summon JSC member over gang link allegations

Police have summoned the president’s appointed member to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Mohamed ‘Reynis’ Saleem, for questioning regarding allegations he commissioned gang activities.

Saleem reported to police headquarters in Male’ yesterday (May 25) to answer questions related to an ongoing police investigation.

He has been accused of “exploiting a gang to commit crimes, including mugging,” according to local media. Saleem allegedly enlisted a gang to recover money owed to him.

The case under investigation is not related to the Dr Afrasheem Ali murder, a police media official told Minivan News today (May 26).

“As the investigation is ongoing, I am not able to provide any further details. We are facing difficulties now,” the official said.

The police do not have any plans to arrest Saleem or forward charges to the Prosecutor General’s Office at this time.

Meanwhile, Saleem has refuted the allegations, claiming he has no links to gang members, or anyone affiliated with gangs, and he did not enlist gangs to conduct criminal activities.

“The first thing I want to make clear is that I don’t have any links with gangs, or links with any person connected with gangs,” Saleem told local media.

“The question the police asked was whether I had sent a group to collect some money owed to me by someone. I said that I never sent any group to collect any money for me. So if someone owed me money, I would go to court. I shouldn’t have to involve a group,” explained Saleem.

Saleem also denied allegations he had links to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer Azleef Rauf, who was accused of planning the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali by suspect Hussein Humam, and was subsequently arrested on May 23.

“A serious question is being raised, about a person named Azleef. When I read the papers today, there were reports about a person named Azleef. Right now is a very critical moment, and they have associated my name with his name. I don’t want any newspaper writing in this manner,” said Saleem.

Saleem claimed that his police summons was politically motivated and related to his current JSC responsibilities, but that he would “disclose details [about the allegation] when the right time comes.”

“It’s a personal issue”: JSC

“We believe the issue is unrelated to the JSC or JSC work,” JSC Secretary General Aboobakuru Mohamed told Minivan News today.

“It is a personal issue [of Saleem’s] and the commission is not going to do anything or comment,” said Mohamed.

“We don’t appoint members, the President or Majlis (parliament) does, and should take up the matter,” he added.

Former President’s Member on the JSC Aishath Velezinee told Minivan News that JSC members under police investigation should not participate in the commission while this was ongoing.

“When any JSC member is being investigated they should not be participating in the commission. It reflects on the commission and the status of the judiciary,” she said.

“The JSC should be above criticism. How can the public trust judges if JSC members are under question?” she asked.

“Saleem should refrain from participating in the JSC voluntarily, that would be the best course of action,” she added.

Velezinee explained that because “Maldivians do not think like that,” parliament should suspend Saleem from the JSC until the investigation is complete, as was the course of action taken with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) President Mohamed Fahmy.

“Parliament should put Saleem on leave, not as a punishment but until the investigation is over,” stated Velezinee.

“It doesn’t matter who it is, [allegations of] involvement in serious crime require a full investigation by the police,” she noted.

She further detailed that the appropriate course of action requires police to inform the Prosecutor General, who should then inform Parliament so they can take action.

“I welcome the police to investigate, although the police are not without question themselves,” said Velezinee.

“The government itself is in question, anything that happens at this moment will be politicised,” she added.

President’s Office Spokespersons Masood Imad and Mohamed Thaufeeq, as well as Parliament Speaker MP Abdulla Shahid were not responding to calls at time of press.


Supreme Court holds first hearing on legitimacy of Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court

The Supreme Court on Sunday held the first hearing of the case concerning the legitimacy of Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

The case was filed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and is being heard by the entire seven member bench of the Supreme Court. Respondent in the case was lawyer Ismail Wisham.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team also sought to intervene in the court case. Nasheed’s lawyers stated that the case involved the interests of the former president as his case regarding the detention of the Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed is being looked by Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

At the beginning of the trial, the former Attorney General Husnu al Suood, who was representing the respondent raised procedural points whereby he argued that Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed Abdulla could not sit in the bench since he was also the President of the JSC, which therefore amounted to “presumption of bias”.

However, the Supreme Court rejected the procedural points.

“We understand no reasons were given by the Supreme Court as to the why it decided to not hear the case submitted by the MDP,” the party said in a subsequent press statement. “We believe this goes against the principles of Natural Justice. As a party which will be affected by the decision of the Supreme Court, we believe the MDP has locus standi and as such has the right to be heard.”

Speaking on during case, the respondents argued that according to the existing law, there were no legal basis to support the legal existence of Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, which had been formed in contradiction to the constitution and the Judicature Act article 53.

Judicature Act Article 53(e) states that if four divisions of the four superior courts are established in one island, then “the magistrate court of that island will be abolished. And if a division from among the four courts is established in an island, matters that fall within the jurisdiction of the relevant court shall be carried out by the relevant division and not by the magistrate court.”

The respondent’s lawyer claimed that with reference to the constitution and the Decentralisation Act, it was clear that Hulhumale’ and Villimale are now considered as a part of Male’ even though they are geographically two islands, therefore a magistrate court cannot be set up in any of the islands which under the law are now considered wards.

The intervening Nasheed’s lawyers also echoed similar remarks on the case. Nasheed’s lawyers requested a period of three days to research the documents – which they claimed to have only received just a few minutes before the hearing – but were denied the opportunity.

The JSC lawyers who filed the case argued that Hulhumale’ and Villimale were only considered as a part of Male’ for administrative purposes and that this argument did not have any legal basis. Therefore, they stated, Hulhumale’ should be “judicially” considered a separate island.

The lawyers also claimed that the court was set up with the intention of providing easy access to justice for the people of Hulhumale. They also claimed that according to the Judicature Act article 66, each island must have a magistrate court and that prior to the passing of the Act, the court had been functioning as an island court.

The artice 66 states – “A Magistrate Court shall be established in all inhabited islands with the exception of Male’ where there are the four superior courts created in accordance with Article 53(b) of this Act and in an island where four divisions of these four superior courts are established in accordance with Article 53 (c) of this Act.”

Responding to the claims of the JSC, the respondents stated that based on the documents presented to the court, the Hulhumale court was formed to function as a section of Civil Court and Family Court prior to the passing of the Judicature Act.

The added that only island courts were to be declared as magistrate courts according to the judicature act and since Hulhumale Court was a section of the superior courts, it cannot be declared as a magistrate court according to the Judicature Act.

Supreme Court, adjourning today’s sessions did not mention of the next date the hearings would be scheduled.

The case concerning the legitimacy of Hulhumale Magistrate Court was filed by the JSC in earlier this month, asking the Supreme Court to decide on the matter.

Meanwhile, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Member of Nasheed’s legal team, lawyer Hisaan Hussain during a press conference held earlier this month, stated that they felt it would be unjust for the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to be presiding over any case after Nasheed’s case was temporarily halted over allegations of the court being unlawfully established.

The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court held the first hearing of Nasheed’s case on October 9. The second hearing had been scheduled for November 4, which was cancelled following the injunction granted Sunday morning by the High Court.

Nasheed’s legal team has previously raised concerns about the legality of the Hulhumale’ court, citing Article 141 (a) of the Constitution and Articles 53 (b) and 62 of the Maldives Judicature Act.

Following the hearing, the MDP in its statement argued that the head of the JSC sitting on the bench during a trial concerning the JSC was against natural justice, and grounds for taking the case to the International Court of Justice.

“That no man shall be his own judge and jury is a fundamental principle of Natural Justice. The Supreme Court decides cases on simple majority and the president of a body that is the appellant and as such a party to the litigation and in which one of the issues is the legality of its own acts, should be disqualified from sitting as a judge in this case,” the party said.

“We are thinking of instructing lawyers to take up this case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). After all once such basic principles of justice are ignored in our highest court of appeal, it paves the way for appeal to the ICJ.”