High Court cancels hearing on Nasheed’s case against JSC, after judge takes last minute leave

The High Court has cancelled the scheduled hearing set to take place today concerning the case filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) contesting the legitimacy of the appointment of the three-member panel of judges in his trial.

The JSC has previously contested the High Court’s jurisdictionto rule on the procedural issues noted by Nasheed’s lawyers. The former President is being tried for his detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, prior to his controversial resignation in February 2012.

A High Court official confirmed to Minivan News that the hearing was cancelled but did not state a reason for the cancellation.

However, Nasheed’s legal team member Hassan Latheef told Minivan News the decision to cancel the hearing was made after the judge who was presiding over the case opted to “take leave” for the day.

“[High Court] officials called us and informed that the judge presiding over the case was on leave today, and therefore the hearing was cancelled,” said Latheef.

The cancellation of the hearing came just a few minutes before it was set to begin, much to the dismay of Nasheed, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s presidential candidate – who had cut short his campaign trip to Raa Atoll to appear for the hearing.

“We are very disappointed over the court’s decision which clearly shows its motive to obstruct Nasheed’s presidential campaign. Due to this [behaviour] Nasheed is barred from having the same opportunities as other candidates to campaign in the elections,” Latheef said, expressing his frustration over the cancellation.


During the last hearing in which both the parties argued over procedural issues, Nasheed and his counsel sought to clarify the JSC’s procedural points contending that they were not completely clear.

The High Court judges panel gave Nasheed’s lawyers the opportunity to ask the JSC’s legal representation for clarification, while posing additional questions regarding the same issue themselves.

They then stated that it was unclear why the JSC had asked for the counsel of the Supreme Court in deciding the composition of the bench, and the justification under which the JSC considered the Supreme Court’s counsel to be of the same legal weight as a ruling of the court.

In responding to the questions posed to them, the JSC revealed that the names of the magistrates they had sent to the Supreme Court for their counsel were not the names nominated by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

The High Court bench questioned the JSC as to if there was a procedure in place which allowed for the assignment of judges to specific cases.

The JSC responded that there were certain circumstances in which judges can be assigned for specific cases, adding that the commission had done so previously in the past.

The bench further asked the JSC several times as to whether they considered the Supreme Court’s ‘counsel’ a ‘ruling’. The JSC’s legal team confirmed that they did.

The JSC’s legal representation stated that the Hulhumale’ Court Bench had been established under the counsel of the Supreme Court, and that this held the weight of a Supreme Court ruling.

Nasheed’s legal team contested this, stating that ‘counsel’ and a ‘ruling’ of the Supreme Court could not be considered to hold the same strength.

Upon receiving answers for some of the questions posed, Nasheed’s lawyers requested for more time to prepare a response, which the bench granted.

Request for intervention

Meanwhile, former MNDF Male Area Commander retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and his legal team have requested to intervene in the ongoing court battle between the former President and the JSC.

The retired Brigadier General is facing the same charges as Nasheed over the detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed during January 2011, which eventually led to a police mutiny and finally, the controversial resignation of Nasheed from the presidency.

Didi is represented by lawyer Ismail Wisham who previously lodged a case contesting that the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was set up in contradiction of laws dictating the formation of courts. The case was later taken over by Supreme Court which later endorsed the legitimacy of the much debated magistrate court.

In response to the request made by Didi, local media reported that the High Court had claimed it would allow the intervention as soon as it had ruled on the procedural issues raised by the JSC.


MDP gathering calls for judicial reform ahead of Nasheed trial

Maldivian Democratic Party on Tuesday night held a march around the capital island Male’ calling for judicial reform ahead of the next hearing of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s trial, scheduled for November 4.

Over 500 protesters marched around Male’ with banners and placards displaying messages on the importance of judicial independence and holding the judiciary accountable.

A number of leading MDP figures joined the march, including former Minister of Environment and Housing Mohamed Aslam, MP Ilyas Labeeb, former Ministers of Education Shifa Mohamed and Musthafa Lutfi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem and former Minister of Home Affairs Hassan Afeef.

Some of the messages on the banners observed by Minivan News said: “Do not destroy justice for the sake of political gain” and “No one will benefit through spoiling the judiciary.”

The protest march began in front of the MDP office on Sosun Magu and protesters walked on the streets of Male’ despite the rainy weather. The march stopped at some street junctions where party leaders gave speeches to the gathered crowds. Speakers included Musthafa Lutfi and Shifa Mohamed.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said that a main focus of the protest was asserting that the judiciary too must be held accountable.

The three judges presiding over the Nasheed case have continued to refuse to attend parliament committee meeting despite repeated summons.

Trial against Nasheed

On October 9, the police presented Nasheed to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court for the first hearing on the case concerning his arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

He was arrested on the island of FaresMathoda on the previous day and held in the Dhoonidhoo Detention Facility until the hearing, prompting protests by hundreds of his supporters.

After the first hearing, Nasheed was released from custody, though they maintained the previously imposed travel ban, requiring him to get a special permission from the courts prior to any travelling.

Nasheed alleged that the Prosecutor General’s sole purpose was to bar him from contesting in the upcoming presidential elections, stating, “If, as the President of the Maldives I arrested the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, then it is not as small a crime as is stated in Article 81 (of the Penal Code). The Prosecutor General’s only objective is to ensure that I cannot contest in the next presidential elections. To do so, he has identified an article which would provide just the required period of detention to cancel my candidacy.”

Nasheed’s legal team has previously raised concerns about the trial, stating that case proceedings were against laws and norms. They raised questions about the legality of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court and procedural issues with the three judge panel presiding over the case.

While the next hearing has been scheduled for November 4, two among Nasheed’s lawyers have been barred from court.

Meanwhile, following an application for a temporary injunction by Nasheed’s legal team, the High Court has declared that it will hold the next hearing of the injunction case on the same day coinciding with Nasheed’s next hearing at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.