Statement on Passing of the Bill on the Amendment to the Judicature Act

The Commonwealth LawyersAssociation (CLA), the Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA) and the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) are concerned about thepassing of the Bill on the Amendment to the Judicature Act which reduced thenumber of Supreme Court Judges from 7 to 5. We are also extremely concerned that the Judicial Services Commission,as a consequence,  recommended theremoval of Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Muthasim Adnan to the President which is contrary to Article 154 of the Maldives Constitution which statesthat:

“154 (b) A Judge may be removed from officeonly if the  Judicial Service Commissionfinds that the person is grossly incompetent, or that the Judge is guilty ofgross misconduct, and submits to the People’s Majlis a resolution supportingthe removal of the Judge, which is passed by a two-thirds majority of themembers of the People’s Majlis present and voting.”

In passing this Act and thesubsequent hasty removal of two senior judges, The Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationshipbetween the Three Branches of Government (2003), have beenignored and that as a result the judiciary and the Rule of Law has beenseverely damaged.  The Principles statethat “Judges should be subject tosuspension or removal only for reasons of incapacity or misbehaviour thatclearly renders them unfit to discharge their duties

It further states that:  “Inaddition to providing the proper procedures for the removal of judges ongrounds of incapacity or misbehaviour that are required to support theprinciple of independence of the judiciary, any disciplinary procedures shouldbe fairly and objectively administered. Disciplinary proceedings which mightlead to the removal of a judicial officer should include appropriate safeguards to ensure fairness”.

Due to the haste in which thislaw was passed and the subsequent immediate removal of Chie Justice Faiz andJustice Adnan, such procedures have not been followed.

The Associations urge theGovernment and Parliament of the Maldives  to respect the independence of the judiciaryand in particular to comply with its constitutional safeguards and theCommonwealth Latimer House Principles and international standards.

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