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#Maldives: Stop interference in judicial process - Supreme Court, Judicial Services Commission

#Maldives: The Supreme Court and the Judicial Services Commission have called upon the Parliament to stop interference in the judiciary and to respect the separation of powers as guaranteed under the constitution. The call was made in response to the decision by the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Government to summon before it the three Majistrates on the bench to hear the criminal case against former President Mohamed Nasheed. The summons to the Majistrates was for 3.45 on 9th October, just 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time for the first hearing in Nasheed's criminal trial. The Parliamentary Subcommittee has a majority of MPs belonging to Nasheed's party Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and is headed by MDP MP Ali Waheed. Nasheed was arrested earlier today upon a court warrant issued due to Nasheed's violation of two court orders in the case.

In separate press statements both the Supreme Court and the Judicial Services Commission provide legal and constitutional grounds on which such a summons by the Parliament can be deemed as unconstitutional and an attempt to interfere with due judicial process.

The Supreme Court said that such interference by Parliament was directly in contravention to the separation of powers and the guarantee of an independent Judiciary. It said interference in the judiciary would not be permitted in any democratic society, and called upon the Government and independent institutions and all concerned to respect and uphold the separation of powers as guaranteed in the Constitution.

The Supreme Court cited Article 141 (c) of the Constitution which states that "No officials performing public functions, or any other persons, shall interfere with and influence the functions of the courts.". It also cited Article 9 of the Bill on Judges as legal foundation for its arguments against judicial interference by the Parliament.

The JSC, in a separate press release, stated that it had sole authority to make judges accountable for their actions, and that there was no ruling by the Supreme Court which allowed a party other than the JSC to hold judges accountable. This was in response to a claim to media by MP Ali Waheed, head of the Parliamentary Subcommittee which passed the summons to the judges, that his committee's ruling was in accordance with a ruling by the Supreme Court. The JSC cited the Constitution and Article 21 (b) of the Law on the Judicial Services Commission as giving it sole power over holding judges accountable.

MP Ali Waheed who also head the Palrimentary Subcommittee on National Security (241 Committee) has previously led campaigns in parliament to obstruct the functioning of other independent institutions. At the time of the military arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed on Nasheed's orders, MP Ali Waheed had called the independent Prosecutor General and the independent Human Rights Commission of Maldives for interrogation by the Committee due to the PG and HRCM's public condemnation of the arrest as unconstitutional and illegal. Media reports at the time also report MP Ali Waheed and other MDP MPs obstructing questioning of the military on the same issue.

Former President Nasheed is reportedly currently held at Dhoonidhoo Island, in readiness for presentation at court tomorrow at 4 pm. Unconfirmed reports say that two MDP MPs have been allowed to stay with him, and that his wife and child are enroute to Dhoonidhoo to stay with him.

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