Civil Court halts judicial watchdog from taking further action against High Court Chief Judge

Civil Court on Thursday issued an injunction ordering the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) not to take any action against the suspended Chief Judge of High Court Ahmed Shareef, until it decides on the legality of his suspension.

The injunction comes the same day the Civil Court cancelled a hearing of the lawsuit filed against the JSC by the suspended chief judge, after the JSC claimed it could not “print a statement” that was to be presented to court due to an “IT failure”.

The Chief Judge of the High Court was “indefinitely suspended” by the JSC shortly after the High Court cancelled a hearing of the appeal case filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The hearing of Nasheed’s case was scheduled to decide on procedural issues raised by the JSC contending that the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case, which involved the legitimacy of a panel of judges appointed by the commission to preside over the former president’s trial at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

The JSC however, in a press conference denied any connection with the case but claimed that Shareef’s suspension was regarding a complaint filed against the judge over a year ago.

The Chair of the JSC, Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed, was quick to give his reasoning of the suspension, contending that it was a “precautionary” measure while investigation of the complaint was proceeding.

Following the decision, Judge Shareef subsequently challenged the JSC’ decision in Civil Court claiming that the decision contrasted the existing laws and had undermined the independence that a Judge require in executing his legal duties. He had also, through the lawsuit, requested the Court to issue an injunction halting his suspension.

Shareef is represented by veteran lawyer and former Attorney General Husnu al Suood and his law firm Suood Anwar & Co.

The Civil Court Judge Hathif Hilmy dismissed the case after Shareef and his legal team failed to appear before the court on time. However, Shareef’s lawyers again re-filed the case on the same day.

Had it not been cancelled, the JSC was expected to respond to the lawsuit on Thursday’s hearings, but lawyers representing the JSC told the court that commission’s intranet network crashed and therefore they were not able to print the statements which they planned to present to the court.

When the presiding judge proposed to delay the hearings for a later time in the evening, the lawyers claimed the problem could not be fixed within the day.

Responding to the claim, Shareef’s lawyer Suood argued at the court that JSC could have easily printed the statement from another printing shop using a flash drive.

However the JSC lawyers told the court that it would not be able to present the statements the same day even if the printing was done externally.

Following the claim, the presiding judge cancelled the hearing without scheduling a future hearing.

Despite the JSC’s suspension of Judge Shareef following the High Court case regarding Nasheed, the commission is yet to take a similar “precautionary action” against Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed – who appeared in a leaked video indulging in adultery with a with foreign women that is now circulation on social media networks.

Hameed’s sex tape came into media limelight after the arrest of Ahmed Faiz on charges of blackmail – a senior Council Member of President Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and former Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry.

A police investigation is already proceeding and Hameed was also summoned for questioning. In the meantime, the JSC itself formed a five member committee to look into the matter which includes JSC Vice Chair Abdulla Didi, commission members Latheefa Gasim, Ahmed Rasheed and two outside lawyers.

Senior figures of the state including President Mohamed Waheed have expressed “sadness” over the incident with the president noting that should the video be authentic, it raises “serious questions”.

However, JSC is yet to take any action against the Supreme Court Justice, who continues to preside over Supreme Court cases even for a precautionary measure.