Majlis removes Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Muthasim Adnan from Supreme Court

The People’s Majlis has today removed Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan from the Supreme Court bench.

Of the 75 MPs who were present and voting at today’s extraordinary sitting, 53 MPs voted in favor, while 21 MPs voted against the move. One MP abstained.

The dismissal comes after the judicial watchdog, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), found the judges guilty of gross misconduct and incompetence at an emergency meeting on Thursday.

The ruling has not been made available to MPs or to the public.

“Today marks the darkest day in the constitutional history of Maldives,” opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed said prior to the vote, claiming President Abdulla Yameen was attempting to fashion the Supreme Court “into a coat to fit his shoulders.”

Six opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs – Yamin Rasheed, Abdul Bari Abdulla, Ismail Naseer, Mohamed Nazim, Ahmed Marzooq, and Reeko Moosa Manik – did not attend today’s sitting despite a three-whip line ordering all 23 MPs to be present and vote against the judges’ dismissal. Nasheed has suggested the MPs were offered bribes for their absence.

Speaking to the press after the vote, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said he has asked the part’s disciplinary committee to take action against the six MPs for breaking the whip line.

The MDP will continue to grow, he said, adding: “This is another wave in Maldives democracy. We will ride it out.”

Four Jumhooree Party (JP) MPs also voted against the dismissal. They include JP Leader and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, Ali Hussein, Abdulla Riyaz, and Hussein Mohamed.

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Mohamed Nasheed abstained from the vote.

The new chief justice will be appointed at a second extraordinary sitting tonight. President Yameen’s nominee is most likely to be incumbent judge and Chief Justice of the interim Supreme Court Abdulla Saeed.

MPs attacked, threatened

During today’s sitting, several MDP and JP MPs condemned the Majlis secretariat’s failure to provide details of the JSC report, stating they have not been provided with a reason for Faiz and Muthasim’s dismissal.

Addressing Majlis Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said: “These days under your Speakership will be written down in history as the most undemocratic and violent in the Maldives.”

He also described every day under President Yameen as a threat to the Maldives constitution.

Fahmy and JP MP Abdulla Riyaz were attacked and doused with petrol on their way to the Majlis this morning.

Several MPs, including former Speaker Abdulla Shahid and MDP MP Rozaina Adam received texts stating: “If you fail to do what you must today, then prepare to die. Your children will be sacrificed for this as well.”

JP MP Hussein Mohamed repeatedly questioned Maseeh how the Majlis could vote to dismiss judges based on a three line letter from the JSC.

MP Ali Hussein, also of the JP, said the JSC had flouted due process and failed to provide judges an opportunity to speak in their defense. The Majlis must take responsibility if the move results in vigilante justice and anarchy, he added.

Rozaina said the world would laugh at Maldives’ “uncivilized” attempt to remove Supreme Court judges and questioned why the JSC had failed to find Justice Ali Hameed, implicated in three sex tapes, guilty of misconduct.

Demanding details of the JSC ruling, MDP MP Mariya Didi asked if the two judges were being dismissed because they have often formed the dissenting opinion in several controversial cases, including the decision to annul the presidential polls of September 2013.

MDP MP Rtd Brigadier General Ibrahim Didi repeatedly recited verses of the Qur’an prohibiting bribery and appealed to the Speaker to refrain from holding the vote.

Religious Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem voted for Faiz and Muthasim’s dismissal despite initially telling local media she would decide on a position only after researching the JSC ruling.

Meanwhile, approximately 100 MDP members led by Nasheed gathered on Fareedhee Magu, several meters away from the Majlis house, in protest of the Majlis vote.

Police had warned protesters they would be arrested and prosecuted within 48 hours of arrest if they attempt to cross police lines.

The Civil Court yesterday issued a resolution condemning the JSC’s ruling, stating that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

“We believe we are obliged to comment on the issue for the sake of the democratic and judicial history of the Maldives, and we believe keeping silent at this juncture amounts to negligence” the seven member bench said.

The MDP has since sought an injunction to stop the Majlis vote from proceeding and asked the Civil Court to invalidate the JSC decision. The Civil Court has accepted the case, but the vote went ahead before a decision on the stay order could be reached.

Private lawyers have also taken up the case in the High Court, with Hasaan Maaz Shareef, Mohamed Faisal, and Shaheen Hameed also asking for the vote to be halted and for the annulment of “unconstitutional” amendments to the Judicature Act.

This article has been updated with the details of today’s vote and opposition’s response to the vote.

Related to this story

MDP asks Civil Court to halt Majlis decision on judges’ removal

Parliament reduces Supreme Court bench to five judges

JSC recommends dismissal of Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan

Civil Court condemns move to dismiss Chief Justice Faiz and Justice Adnan


Dissenting Supreme Court justices challenge court’s jurisdiction to hear annulment case, evidence

The three dissenting justices in the Supreme Court’s verdict to annul the vote have challenged the apex court’s constitutional jurisdiction over the case, and the credibility of the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs.

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Abdulla Areef and Justice Muthasim Adnan in their verdict stated that the High Court has initial jurisdiction over election petitions as per Article 172 (a) of the Constitution.

They also challenged the credibility of statements provided by the Jumhoree Party (JP)’s 14 anonymised witnesses, and dismissed a secret police document submitted by the Attorney General Azima Shakoor as invalid evidence, since the Elections Commission (EC) was not provided a right of response to the document.

The Jumhoree Party asked the SC to annul the vote held on September 7, after its candidate Gasim Ibrahim narrowly placed third with 50,422 votes, behind Yameen Abdul Gayoom of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) who gained 53,099 votes. Maldivian Democartic Party’s Mohamed Nasheed gained 45.45 percent of the vote with 95,224 votes, while incumbent president Mohamed Waheed received just 5.13 percent.

The Supreme Court delayed the runoff scheduled for September 28 until it issued a verdict in the case, and on Monday four of the seven SC Justices invalidated the first round and ordered a revote by October 20.

The majority decision appears to have drawn on the secret police document, as they cite 5623 irregular votes, whereas Faiz and Areef note only 473 cases of irregular votes – 0.2 percent of total votes polled.

Faiz and Areef depended on a comparison between the EC’s list of those who voted and the Jumhooree Party’s seven lists alleged of dead, underage, and repeated voters, which was conducted by a police team consisting of forensic document examiners, computer forensic analysts and technical staff.

Faiz and Areef also stated that election laws do not allow for annulling the entire election in instances of fraud, but only in ballot boxes in the specific geographic area where fraud was found to have occurred.

Irregular votes

The four judges making the majority decision contended that 5623 irregular votes were cast. According to the verdict, these included:

  • 773 people with discrepancies in their national identification numbers,
  • 18 dead people,
  • 7 minors,
  • 225 people without national identification numbers,
  • three people who voted twice,
  • 2830 people with discrepancies in their addresses,
  • 952 people with discrepancies in their names,
  • 7 people who were not registered in the Department of National Registration’s (DNR) database,
  • 819 people whose national identification numbers had been written down wrong by elections officials at the time of voting

Of the 473 irregular votes noted by Faiz and Areef, 12 were votes cast by minors, 14 cast by dead people, and 207 cast by people without authentic ID cards. According to Faiz and Areef, there were cases of no repeated voting.

“We have not referred to the secret Maldives Police Service document submitted by the Attorney General’s Office as the defendant did not have a right of response,” the judges stated.

Neither did they consider valid the testimony of the 14 anonymised witnesses, “as they were unable to clarify their statements because such questions may have violated the anonymity of the witnesses.”

In his dissenting opinion, Adnan said he did not accept the evidence submitted in the case.

“I do not accept the evidence submitted in this case. A secret document that the defendant could not respond to was submitted. The complainant was not able to submit any credible evidence that allows for the election to be annulled,” he said.

Adnan also said the Elections Commission had followed all procedures laid out in the Constitution and the Elections Act in compiling, publishing and revising the voter registry.


The three dissenting judges noted that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction on initial election complaints, as Article 172 (a) of the Constitution states that a person “may challenge a decision of the Election Commission concerning an election or a public referendum, or may challenge the results of an election, or contest the legality of any other matter related to an election, by means of an election petition presented to the High Court.”

Although the majority bench cites Article 113 of the Constitution which states that the Supreme Court, sitting together in session, shall have sole and final jurisdiction to determine all disputes concerning the qualification or disqualification, election, status, of a presidential candidate or running mate or removal of the President by the People’s Majlis, the three dissenting judges note the JP’s complaint was to do with the electoral registry and should have been submitted to the High Court.

Faiz and Areef also cited Article 65 (a) of the Elections Act, which states that a vote may be annulled only in a certain geographical area in instances of fraud.

“The Majlis has passed a statutory elections law (Act 11/2008) as per Article 172 (b) of the constitution which states the manner for dealing with any challenge shall be provided for in a statute on elections, and as Article 65 (a) of Act 11/2008 with reference to Article 64 states a vote in a specific area may be annulled and a revote ordered in that area if the court decides there is undue influence in an election in that specific area.

“Hence, official results of an election can only be annulled only in the specific area, specific ballot box or boxes, in which undue influence has occurred as per Article 65 of Act 11/2008 (Elections Act), there is no room to annul the votes of the 211,890 people who voted in the 2013 Presidential Election held on 7 September 2013,” they said.


Supreme Court criminalises offences within the exercise of freedom of assembly, expression

The Supreme Court decided in a 6-1 ruling last week that the police should investigate criminal offences carried out within the exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

The ruling comes in a case filed by the Attorney General in September requesting the court to determine that public disturbances in the name of political protests were not within the scope of the rights guaranteed in the constitution.

These included protests outside private residences late at night, use of defamatory language and incitement to violence – “calling for people to be killed, hanged and attacked.”

The Supreme Court was asked to declare that such actions infringed upon the right to life, liberty and security of persons (article 21); the right to privacy and respect for private and family life (article 24); the right to protect reputation and good name (article 33); and special protection for children, young, elderly and disadvantaged people (article 35).

The apex court ruled that activities that violate “public safety, health, tranquillity and morality” could be considered criminal offences and falls within the purview of the security services.

The case was filed by the Attorney General following months of protests by the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the dismantling in March of the party’s protest camp by security forces.

President’s Office Spokesman Masood Imad told Minivan News last month that the government fully supports the right to protest, but it needs to be done in such a manner that does not adversely affect the lives of others.

“A protest should be about changing something. A protest conducted in residential areas has nothing to do with parliament. Public protest and public nuisance are two very different things,” he contended.

The MDP meanwhile likened the move to Bahrain’s efforts to outlaw protesting.

“The MDP strongly condemns efforts to restrict freedom to assembly by the government. One of the most fundamental clauses in the new constitution is the right to protest and we are witnessing democratic gains fast slipping,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

Dissenting opinion

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Ahmed Muthasim Adnan – the only Supreme Court Justice with a background in common law – concluded that establishing a judicial guideline for the exercise of rights and freedoms was not within the remit of the Supreme Court.

He contended that such principles “should be determined in a law passed by the People’s Majlis.”

Justice Adnan noted that the case was considered ‘ex parte’ or conducted for the benefit of one party.

He noted that according to article 16 of the constitution, the rights and freedoms enshrined in chapter two were “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by a law enacted by the People’s Majlis in a manner that is not contrary to this Constitution. Any such law enacted by the People’s Majlis can limit the rights and freedoms to any extent only if demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

It was therefore clear that rights and freedoms could only be restricted or narrowed through a law passed by parliament, Justice Adnan added.

The Attorney General’s request was not a matter to be decided by the Supreme Court, he concluded, as “these problems should be proposed to the People’s Majlis for a solution.”