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Parliament approves new chief justice, top court judges

Fathmath Shaahunaz
28 June 2018, MVT 00:33
Supreme Court's Judge Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi (C), High Court's current Chief Judge Abdulla Didi (R) and High Court's Judge Abdul Ghani Mohamed. IMAGE/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
28 June 2018, MVT 00:33

Maldives parliament on Wednesday night approved to appoint the Supreme Court's Judge Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi as the new chief justice, along with two judges of the High Court to the apex court.

The 36 lawmakers of the ruling coalition that participated in Wednesday night's sitting, had unanimously voted in favour of Dr. Didi as the new chief justice, and the High Court's Abdulla Didi and Abdul Ghani Mohamed as new justices to the apex court's bench.

Lawmakers of the opposition alliance, who have been boycotting parliamentary sittings since the second term resumed, were not present to vote on the issue.

The new appointments of Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Didi and Abdul Ghani Mohamed had also been approved by the parliamentary Committee on Independent Bodies, which had reviewed their nominations prior to the vote.

During the committee's evaluation, members of the ruling coalition had declared that the three judges were competent, patriotic and independent of other influences. Voicing concerns over the controversy stirred up in the Supreme Court after its landmark ruling on February 1 to free political prisoners, the committee's pro-government MPs expressed confidence that the new justices appointed to the top court would help to strengthen the trustworthiness of the judiciary.

According to the Constitution, new justices to the Supreme Court must be passed by the parliament, from amongst candidates nominated by the president based on Judicial Service Commission (JSC)'s recommendations. The commission had vouched for Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Abdulla Didi and Abdul Ghani Mohamed, and President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had submitted their names to the parliament.

Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi was one of the justices appointed to the judges bench when the permanent Supreme Court was first established in 2010. He is also the only judge currently in Maldives with a PhD in the field. Meanwhile, Abdulla Didi had served at the Criminal Court before he was appointed to the High Court in 2015, while Abdul Ghani Mohamed had been serving as a High Court judge since 2004.

Dr. Didi is the third chief justice to be appointed since the permanent Supreme Court's establishment in 2010. The first chief justice, Ahmed Faiz Hussain, was removed from post in 2014 after the number of justices on the top court's bench was decreased following an amendment to the Judicature Act.

Dr. Didi's predecessor, Abdulla Saeed, along with former Supreme Court judge, Ali Hameed, were stripped of their posts last week, when they were found guilty of undue influence on the judiciary after the appeal process was exhausted. A recent amendment to the Judicature Act states that any judge convicted of a criminal offence, would automatically lose their post should their conviction be upheld by an appellate court. Previously the Act stipulated a vote by the parliament to remove a judge from post.

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