Supreme Court orders halt on parliamentary appointment of new CSC head

The Supreme Court today released a temporary stay order requesting parliament not appoint a new President to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) until the judiciary concludes a case submitted by former CSC head Mohamed Fahmy concerning his removal from the post.

The court, in reference to the constitutional procedures that needed to be followed in cases of this type, said it was ordering parliament under Article 144(b) of the Constitution of the Maldives to temporarily halt any work related to the appointment of any person to the recently vacated post.

Article 144(b) states: “When deciding a constitutional matter within its jurisdiction, a court may in connection with a declaration pursuant to the article make any order that is just and equitable, including an order providing just compensation for any damage sustained by any person or group of persons due to any statute, regulation or action that is inconsistent with the Constitution; or an order suspending the declaration of invalidity (of a statute, regulation or action due to inconsistency with the Constitution) for any period and on any conditions, to allow the competent authority to correct the defect.”

The order was issued in response to a request for a temporary halt order made by Fahmy, who has submitted a case at the Supreme Court alleging that he had been removed from his post in an unlawful move by the parliament.  Fahmy was represented in court by lawyer and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Council Member Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim.

Separation of Powers

Article 187(a) and (b) of the Constitution states that a member of the CSC shall be removed from office only on the grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence, and a finding to that effect by a committee of the People’s Majlis, and upon the approval of such finding by the People’s Majlis by a majority of those present and voting, calling for the member’s removal from office.

In accordance with this, Fahmy was removed from his post on November 20 through a vote in parliament over claims he had allegedly sexual harassed a female employee. The vote had been taken in parliament after members debated the findings of a report into the allegations, which was compiled by the Committee on Independent Institutions.

The 70 members who partook in the vote were split 38 for removing Fahmy to 32 against, with two abstentions.

“What is at stake is the supremacy of the parliament as the representative of the people. By its actions, the Supreme Court is challenging the separation of powers that underpins the constitutional basis of governance,” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Eva Abdulla told Minivan News.

Article 88(b) of the constitution states: “Unless otherwise specified in this Constitution, the validity of any proceedings in the People’s Majlis shall not be questioned in any court of law.”

Meanwhile, Department of Judicial Administration Director Ahmed Maajid defended the Supreme Court order, “In addition to Article 88(b) there is another clause in the constitution which says that the courts can look into any issues which breach human rights or the constitution. That is my personal view.”

Vice President of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives Ahmed Tholal said that the commission could not yet comment on the matter as they had “just read about it in the news” and had so far not discussed it among the commission’s members.

Chair of the Committee on Independent Commissions Mohamed Nasheed, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.