Judicial watchdog tight-lipped on suspension of civil court judge

Judicial watchdog tight-lipped on suspension of civil court judge
August 19 13:30 2015

The watchdog Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has suspended Civil Court Judge Mariyam Nihayath indefinitely, but has declined to reveal details of the complaint.

In a statement issued on Monday, the commission said Nihayath was suspended due to the nature of the complaint lodged against her

“The commission took the decision in consideration of the statement given by the Judge, the nature of the complaint and the information the investigation has received so far,” the statement read.

Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed, who also chairs the JSC, heads the investigation into the complaint against Nihayath.

The Maldives Independent understands the suspension was caused by Nihayath’s decision to reopen a case she had initially thrown out. The JSC spokesperson refused to comment on the matter.

Husnu Suood, a former attorney general and a former judge, expressed concern stating: “As we do no know the circumstances surrounding the suspension, we cannot comment on its appropriateness. We are concerned because the decisions of JSC over the years have been politically influenced and therefore inconsistent. Besides there are serious doubts about the integrity of its members.”

Nihayath is one of the seven female judges in the Maldivian judiciary. Civil Court Judge Aisha Shujoon resigned in December.

It is very rare for the JSC to take disciplinary action against judges. When several sex tapes appearing to show Judge Hameed fornicating with three foreign women was leaked on social media, the commission did not suspend him despite recommendations by several sub-committees.

The JSC later threw out the complaint, citing insufficient evidence, and President Abdulla Yameen appointed Hameed as chair of the JSC.

Corruption charges filed against Hameed have been stalled last year after key documents were said to have been destroyed by a coffee spill at the criminal court.

The former chief judge of the High Court, Ahmed Shareef, was suspended in 2013 hours after the High Court temporarily halted the hearings of a case lodged by former President Mohamed Nasheed against the JSC. A year later, he was demoted to the Juvenile Court. He was found guilty of ethical misconduct.

Criminal Court Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf was suspended for more than a year in 2013, but was cleared of misconduct charges. According to local media, he was accused of sexually assaulting a public prosecutor.

Bari was one of the three judges on a panel that sentenced former President Mohamed Nasheed and two former defence ministers to jail this year on a variety of charges.