Maldives Cleansing The Judiciary: Is President Nasheed Over Reaching? – Analysis

By

Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.

A serious constitutional crisis has arisen in Maldives over the arrest of the Chief Criminal Judge Abdulla Mohamed in a joint operation of Police and the MNDF on the 16th of January.

There is no doubt that the judiciary in Maldives is in a mess with many unqualified and incompetent people having made it into the judiciary in the void created during the transition period.

The ICJ report of July 2010 pointed out the legacy of an authoritarian past in which the President was the supreme judicial architect that has tested the transition.

Maldives

Maldives

Another factor which inhibited proper selection was that the Judicial Service Commission failed to fulfill the constitutional mandate of properly vetting and reappointing the judges. Even the composition of the commission was questionable. Imagine Gasim Ibrahim being a member- He is a politician and leader of one of the active political parties. He has extensive business interests and there will be an unavoidable clash of interests.

A media report that has not been challenged had this to say-

“ Here, we have a judge whom most agree is corrupt – or at the very least unfit to sit in so high an office; we have a judge who is blatantly politically biased and admits as much on national television; we have a judge who has released criminals including rapists and drug dealers and who has been seen cavorting with defendants after his rulings; and yet we as a nation and people are powerless to remove him from the office which he so flagrantly disgraces. Can there be a constitutional failing that is more evident than the one embodied in this man?”

The person referred to in the last line is none other than Abdulla Mohamad, the Chief Criminal Judge of the country.

In the year 2005, the then Attorney General and now a leader of the DQP has himself reported against the judge and the allegations included misogyny, sexual deviance, throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused. The Judicial Commission took its own time to enquire into the allegations and meanwhile the judge approached the civil court and stopped the enquiry!

The judge would have got away with all this but what triggered the anger of the government was that he issued orders for immediate release of two persons from custody – Dr. Jameel, the Vice President of DQP and Sandhaanu Didi for asserting in a private broadcasting station that the government was working with the Jews and Christian priests and encouraging vice. Didi went further and made personal attacks against President saying that the President was a madman and a Christian!

Confronted by the Police, the two were not able to substantiate the allegations and were therefore taken into custody under 125 of penal code which said that a “ person can be punished for making a fabricated statement or repeats a statement whose basis cannot be provided . . . ”

The Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed ordered the immediate release of the accused and the Police with the help of the MNDF in turn arrested the judge of the criminal court.

Police Sources say that the Judge was arrested for unethical conduct in obstructing the Police in exercising their responsibilities to preserve law and order in the society.

The High Court ordered the release of the judge stating that the arrest was illegal.

The Chief Justice Ahmad Faiz and the Prosecutor General also issued orders for the immediate release of the judge.

The JSC ( Judicial Service Commission) also issued a press note that it is not in the jurisdiction of the armed forces or the Police to take action against the judge.

The Vice President has in his blog has said that the arrest is against article 319 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further it is against the international covenant of civil and political rights and international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. He suggested that the judge should be released and then make the JSC fulfill its responsibilities.

The Secretary General of SAARC and a former attorney General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, the youngest and the first female Secretary General, condemned the arrest in a television programme and said that it is a “violation of individual human rights, a violation of independence of the judiciary and a violation of the constitution.” She has put in her resignation papers after the broadcast.

A team of lawyers filed a case against MNDF in the High Court over the illegal arrest of the judge. A case has also been filed in the International Court of Justice over the arrest.

President Nasheed appears to be unrelenting and has justified the arrest. He has separately approached the UN for help in cleaning up the judiciary- immediate issues and the long term issues that includes the failure of the judicial accountability mechanism in the constitution.

It looks that President Nasheed has over reached himself in firstly arresting and in refusing to release the judge when the overwhelming public opinion is against taking such a drastic action. He should have taken this strong stand last year during the transition when some of the judges appointed by the previous regime were found not having “high moral character, educational qualifications or competence.”

One of the charges against the judge now arrested was that in 2005 he was alleged to have requested the under age victim of molestation to re enact her abuse in court. The charge could not be enquired into by the judicial service commission as the judge got a stay order from the civil court.

By this one act of arrest, President Nasheed is likely to antagonise all his admirers and sympathisers. Earlier it is undone, better it would be for all concerned.

SATP

SATP, or the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) publishes the South Asia Intelligence Review, and is a product of The Institute for Conflict Management, a non-Profit Society set up in 1997 in New Delhi, and which is committed to the continuous evaluation and resolution of problems of internal security in South Asia. The Institute was set up on the initiative of, and is presently headed by, its President, Mr. K.P.S. Gill, IPS (Retd).

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5 thoughts on “Maldives Cleansing The Judiciary: Is President Nasheed Over Reaching? – Analysis”

  1. I believe that it is in the best interest of the people of the Maldives, and its future that the President Mohamed Nasheed has taken these actions. As a Maldivian, I fully support the work H.E is taking to clean up the judiciary.

  2. I think the article is biased on one side. That is pro government of Maldives, May be the writer is on their side. I want ask you these questions?

    1. did you know Judge Abdulla Mohamed is holding masters degree.
    2. is any body above the law? even the president?
    3. did you know president is defying the Supreme Court order? High Court order? Civil Court order? Advice of former five Attorney Generals, Prosecutor General?
    4. did you believe President is trying to get the power of courts that he can get the ruling in favor to him.
    5. did you believe Maldives is going towards a military dictatorship.

  3. nothing can be cleaned by breaching the country’s constitution. there is a law to handle matters relating to judges in the Maldives why not to go as provided in the constitution and the law? President Nasheed is doing nothing other than terrorizing the judges and the courts just to get some decrees in his favor such as in the case currently filed with the Supreme Court challenging his qualification to stand as president.

  4. Abdulla Mohamed only holds a basic diploma and no one in Maldives knows where he got his masters degree. Do we allow Mafia to control our judiciary? When the investigative authorities find these links what can the president do? He can’t just watch when the system is been destroyed.

  5. We just got rid of dictator Gayoom, yet he has misappropriated so much funds in his 30 year ruling that opposition is his slave. These corrupt, power-hungry thugs will do anything to the country to end democracy.
    These people are gathering because, cases against their corruption are not even scheduled in these courts and the judges are corrupt to the bones.
    Unfortunately, the rich persons control all the media and they fuel the fire. They bribed policeman and bought 100 thugs.

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