JSC Chair asked to expedite Hulhumale’ Bench case without counsel of members: Sheikh Rahman

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC)’s request that the High Court expedite a case concerning the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench overhearing the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed is an attempt to unduly influence the court, JSC member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman has stated.

“As I see it, a letter like this can only be sent after seeking counsel of commission members in a formal meeting,” Sheikh Rahman said, referring to the request sent by the JSC to the High Court on Sunday.

“However, I only heard about this letter in the media. The next day, I raised the issue at the commission’s meeting, and that is when they finally showed it to me,” he said.

“The letter was signed by the Vice Chair of the JSC [Criminal Court Judge] Abdulla Didi. Abdulla Didi would not send such a letter of his accord. I believe that what has happened here is that he has sent this letter under the orders of JSC Chair [Supreme Court Judge] Adam Mohamed,” he said.

Sheikh Rahman added that the JSC’s Chair was only granted authority to autonomously answer letters concerning administrative matters.

“This letter, however, is certainly not to do with an administrative issue, nor is it a response to a letter. They have taken the initiative and sent a letter to a court concerning an ongoing case, speaking of the case outside of court proceedings. There are already lawyers appointed for this. Such decisions must be made in commission meetings,” he stated.

“I believe that whoever advised for this letter to be sent has done so with the intention of influencing Nasheed’s case to be concluded in a particular way,” Sheikh Rahman declared.

“The JSC, even prior to the sending of this letter, is looking into a number of complaints against the Chief Judge of the High Court and some concerning him or other judges of that same court. The fact is that the JSC has the mandate to appoint or remove the High Court Chief Judge, therefore it is very likely going to exert pressure and influence when this oversight committee sends such a letter,” Sheikh Rahman explained.

The case in question is one filed by the defense counsel of former President Mohamed Nasheed, challenging the legitimacy of the three member bench appointed by the JSC to the case against him for the arbitrary detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Nasheed and his party contend the case is a politically-motivated attempt to convict and prevent him contesting the presidential elections in September.

Lawyers representing the JSC previously requested the High Court dismiss the case, contending the court did not have the jurisdiction to preside on the matter.

Upon accepting the case, the High Court issued a stay order on Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to suspend all criminal trials concerning the arrest of the judge, until a ruling on the legitimacy of the court’s bench is issued.

“Far more concerning cases”

Sheikh Rahman stated that there were other “far more concerning cases” pending in the country’s courts, which the JSC had not sought to expedite.

“There is a case concerning matters relating to the appointment of judges to the superior courts. The JSC has then appealed it at the Supreme Court. This case has been pending for over an year. Within this period, the JSC has sent only two letters regarding the matter,” Sheikh Rahman said.

“The appointment of judges to the superior courts is at a standstill until a verdict is reached on this case. This is a far more pressing matter.”

Not the first time such a letter is sent: JSC

JSC Media Official Hassan Zaheen initially declined from commenting on the issues raised by Sheikh Rahman.

“Shuaib is a member, right? Now when a member has said something, I do not know what to say with regard to that. As I have told media before, this is not the first time we have sent such a letter. I don’t know what has to be said.”

Approached for comments, JSC Vice Chair Abdulla Didi requested that Minivan News contact the JSC’s media official instead.

When informed that the media official had declined from commenting on the matter, Abdulla Didi stated that as media officer, Zaheen was mandated to respond to media.

“Just this week we decided in a commission meeting that Zaheen will answer all media queries regarding this matter, under the counsel of JSC Chair or myself. If he asks me for counsel, I will definitely not stop him from providing explanations. However, I am not the media person, so I do not want to comment on the matter to any media,” Didi said.

Under counsel from the Vice Chair, Zaheen later responded to Sheikh Rahman’s statements.

“I don’t know what Shuaib means by that. We [JSC] believe this is an administrative step taken in order to carry out our work in a more timely manner. The law says the chair, as the highest authority, can take administrative decisions,” he stated.

“It does not matter to us whether the case has to do with [former President Mohamed] Nasheed or whoever. As respondents, we have the right to make this request,” he continued.

“Remember the case of Abdulla Ghazi [Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed]? When there was a case concerning him in Civil Court, this commission sent a letter asking it to be expedited. Even that letter was sent as an administrative letter under the Chair’s orders, not after a decision made in a commission meeting,” Zaheen explained.

Regarding the allegation that the letter may have exerted undue influence, Zaheen replied, “I do not believe that any influence will be exerted. JSC will look into disciplinary measures of any judges, as it is our mandate. That does not mean that we can’t send a letter when a case concerning us in being tried in one of these courts. Who else will come to raise that point? If, as you all claim, there is a conflict of interest, then there are policies the JSC has shared with the judges on how they can abstain from such cases. I trust the judges will do so if need be.”


“JSC politicised, trying to eliminate Nasheed and MDP from elections”: JSC Member Shuaib

Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman has spoken out against the judicial watchdog body, declaring it as politicised and attempting to eliminate former President Mohamed Nasheed from the September 7 elections.

The JSC has not only created the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court in which the former President is being tried, but has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing the case. The JSC’s membership includes several of Nasheed’s direct political rivals, including Jumhoree Party leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, one of Nasheed’s rival presidential candidates.

Sheikh Rahman, the member of the commission appointed by the public, said political influence of the commission had heightened after Gasim had been appointed.

He is the second JSC member to blow the whistle on the Commission, echoing the concerns of JSC member Aisthath Velezinee who was stabbed in the street in early 2011.

Sheikh Rahman made the remarks during a live appearance on local TV channel Raajje TV, just over a week after UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul also aired concerns over the JSC in a statement following a fact finding mission to the Maldives.

Speaking on the show, Sheikh Rahman said the JSC had openly discussed their intent to ensure the elimination of the Maldivian Democratic Party and presidential candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed from the upcoming elections.

Sheikh Rahman alleged that Chair of the Commission, Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed, had abused his post and powers as the chair to try and eliminate Nasheed from contesting the elections, and alleged that Adam Mohamed had “used the commission as a political tool”.

“The politics of the majority control the commission, hence the rule of law, due process and due diligence do not exist in the JSC,” Sheikh Rahman stated. “The commission has no amount of respect for constitutional principles.”

“It is common now to hear a lot of MDP and Nasheed bashing in commission meetings. This was not how things usually were before. I believe politically biased comments like this have increased since Gasim joined the JSC as a representative of the parliament,” Sheikh Rahman continued.

“Gasim even went to the point of asking the UN Special Rapporteur Knaul when she held a meeting with us to state in her report that it was MDP who torched the courts. I heard him say exactly that,” Sheikh Rahman said.

JSC Chair abuses power to continue running unlawful Hulhumale’ Court

Sheikh Rahman further revealed that the JSC had “handpicked” magistrates to preside over the case against Nasheed, for his detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

He said that the JSC’s intention in assigning the case at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to the three specific magistrates was for the explicitly stated purpose of “sentencing Nasheed”.

According to Sheikh Rahman, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was initially established through misinformation and manipulation of the commission on the part of JSC Chair Adam Mohamed.

“The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court is actually abolished automatically with the concept of judicial districts coming into effect upon the ratification of Judicature Act on 10 August 2010. And yet, they continue to run the court,” Sheikh Rahman stated.

He went on to say that as the constitution defines Hulhumale’ and Villingili as parts of the capital Male’ city, there was no authorisation to set up separate magistrate courts on these islands.

Sheikh Rahman alleged that despite these facts, JSC Chair Adam Mohamed had invoked the theory that Hulhumale’ and Villingili were separate islands and were therefore qualified to have their own magistrate courts.

Appendix 2 of the Constitution of Maldives which defines administrative divisions, states that Male’ is inclusive of Villin’gili and Hulhumale’.

Sheikh Rahman revealed that he had, as a member of the JSC, submitted a complaint to the commission to review the decision regarding the court on the grounds that it was unlawfully established. He stated that his attempts were in vain as Chair Adam Mohamed had once again abused his powers and refused to schedule the matter during the commission sessions.

Sheikh Rahman stated that he had made multiple requests for a decision on the Hulhumale’ Court, all of which was rejected by the chair. He confirmed that he had not received any written or official responses to the motions he submitted on the matter.

“Another false justification that Adam Mohamed used is that the matter cannot be discussed in the commission as it referred to an ‘ongoing case’,” he said.

UN Special Rapporteur Gabriella Knaul also criticised the ‘arbitrary appointment’ of judges to Nasheed’s case. She also stated that the Hulhumale’ Court did not have the constitutional mandate to oversee the specific case.

Former JSC member Velezinee also repeated her concerns about the politicisation of the JSC at a recent press conference held to share her remarks on the preliminary findings of UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul.

Incumbent JSC Member Gasim Ibrahim, meanwhile called Knaul’s findings ‘lies and jokes’ at a JP party rally.

The Hulhumale’ Court meanwhile on Wednesday refused to delay Nasheed’s trial until after the elections, despite the prosecution stating they had no objection to such a decision.

Gasim Ibrahim was not responding to calls at time of press.