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Parliament passes to increase Supreme Court bench to seven

Raif Amyl Jalyl
17 July 2019, MVT 16:05
Parliamentary session underway. PHOTO: PARLIAMENT.
Raif Amyl Jalyl
17 July 2019, MVT 16:05

Parliament on Wednesday approved the bill by the government proposing the reversion to a seven-judge bench in the Supreme Court.

The amendment, proposed by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Parliamentary Group leader and Central Henveiru MP Ali Azim, was approved unanimously by 74 attending members. The judiciary committee that reviewed the bill approved it without making any amendments to the motion.

Azim's bill proposed for the Supreme Court to have a seven-judge bench including the Chief Justice, as opposed to the current five.

The bill cites the reason as a motion to revert to the status quo of the apex court prior to the politically motivated amendment and subsequent dismissal of two out of the seven judges in 2014.

When the Supreme Court was first established, it originally featured a five-judge bench. However, the number was increased in 2010 to seven. Following an amendment made by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration in 2014, the number of judges on the bench was brought back down to five. The opposition at the time accused the then-government of introducing the amendments in order to remove then-Chief Justice Abdulla Faiz and Judge Ahmed Mutasim Adnan from their posts.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is currently investigating several cases against the apex court's judges.

MDP members supported the motion to increase the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench. However, certain members raised concerns that it must be taken into consideration that doing so would mean an expenditure of MVR 7.9 million per year.

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