Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Controversy over Decision to Investigate Judge
The Government has thrown a spanner into the works by initiating an investigation against Abdullah Mohamed, Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, for allegedly obstructing a police investigation. The matter has now been referred to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).
Under article 159 of the constitution, the Judicial Service Commission is entrusted with “the responsibility and power to investigate complaints about the Judiciary, and to take disciplinary action against them, including recommendations for dismissal.”
According to a press release issued by the President’s Office the cabinet has decided to investigate Abdullah Mohamed for obstructing a police investigation related to the 2008 audit report of Bank of Maldives.
Majlis Member for Naifaru Ahmed Mohamed, a former judge and member of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), proposed an emergency motion in the Majlis yesterday to condemn the cabinet’s decision to investigate Abdullah Mohamed. During the debate on the motion, the Majlis witnessed some unsavory scenes and the sitting had to be called off.
Opposition DRP believes the government’s decision was an unwarranted interference in the judiciary because separation of powers is established in the Constitution to prevent one branch of the State exerting undue influence over another. Article 141 of the constitution states that “no officials performing public functions, or any other persons, shall interfere with and influence the functions of the courts.”
However the Government stand is that under Article 115 (b) of the Constitution, the President is entrusted with the responsibility to “faithfully implement the provisions of this Constitution and the law, and to promote compliance by organs of the State and by the people.” Further, the government believes it has a duty to recover money owed to Bank of Maldives as soon as possible because the money belongs to the public.
Former Attorney Generals Dr. Hassan Saeed, Azima Shakoor and Dhiyana Saeed have condemned the decision of the Cabinet, one of them describing it as an “attack on the heart of the judiciary.” Former Legal Reform Minister Mohammed Nasheed has also described the action as “way off the mandate of either the president or his cabinet.” The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has issued a press statement expressing concern over the cabinet’s decision.