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Court building designs complete, financing pending

Malika Shahid
04 July 2024, MVT 16:29
Parliament's Judiciary Committee in session: Financing to develop court building has yet to be arranged -- Photo: Parliament
Malika Shahid
04 July 2024, MVT 16:29

The Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) has announced that the designs for the construction of a judicial court building on the allocated land in Hulhumalé have been completed. However, financing for the project has not yet been arranged.

Chief Judicial Administrator Aishath Rizna, speaking during the parliament's Judiciary Committee sitting, stated that the drawings and design of the building have been completed and sent to the Ministry of Finance for tender announcement. She said that the building was designed to include the High Court as well.

"However, there are no funds allocated for the project yet. The President's Office has requested to include the financing in this year's budget," Rizna said.

Since it is not feasible to develop separate buildings for individual courts, the design includes specific features for each court. For example, priority will be given to include specific features for children summoned to Juvenile Court and Family Court, she added.

Without a dedicated building for the judicial courts in the Maldives, the lack of space is a major problem. Both the Supreme Court and the High Court are operating from temporary buildings.

Justice Building; where a number of courts operate from

Although some land had been allocated for the new buildings of these two courts, the projects have not been carried out in the past. The Justice Building is the only permanent building available for judicial use. The Civil Court and one branch of the Family Court are also located in a very dilapidated building.

The Criminal Court is currently facing the most significant space constraint. The court is operating from the old State Trading Organization (STO) office building, located behind the Local Market in Malé. Due to the age and wear of the building, some areas have been restricted from use since last year, causing significant setbacks in proceeding court hearings.

The building used as the Covid-19 treatment facility in Hulhumalé is being developed as a temporary building for the Criminal Court. Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is currently working on moving items from the old court building in Malé to the facility in Hulhumalé, with the move costing MVR 33 million.

However, the building will be available for the Criminal Court's use for only five years. HDC has also decided not to allocate the ground floor of the building for the court's use.

Supreme Court Justice Husnu Suood, also a member of JSC, shared his concerns with the parliament's Judiciary Committee. He stated that the building would be temporarily available for five years and, as they did not obtain the ground floor, it would pose security issues.

According to HDC, the temporary Criminal Court building will be completed by December this year.