New court buildings require Supreme Court approval

New court buildings require Supreme Court approval
January 20 12:04 2016

The criminal court’s decision to set up a courtroom in a police remand facility has prompted the Supreme Court to remind judges that new buildings require its approval.

In an announcement on Tuesday, the Supreme Court said that building new court rooms and repairing court buildings was a responsibility of the Department of Judicial Administration.

The DJA functions under the Supreme Court’s direct supervision.

“No party can establish a court division or facility to conduct hearings outside of set procedures, and such a facility can be established only by a decision of the Supreme Court,” the apex court said.

The criminal court is setting up teleconferencing facilities to conduct criminal court proceedings at the police’s detention center Dhoonidhoo, an island just 15 minutes away by speedboat from the capital.

The practice first began last October during the remand hearings of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb who was arrested on suspicion of links to the September 28 blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat.

Adeeb was arrested from the airport on October 24 and taken straight to Dhoonidhoo. For remand hearings, the police put up a board saying “criminal court” outside an interrogation room, according to lawyers.

Adeeb was not brought to Malé for his controversial impeachment either.

When lawyers complained, the court said in November that it would set up a formal courtroom with a “reliable teleconferencing facility.”

The first hearing into terrorism charges against Adeeb took place on Dhoonidhoo last month, but subsequent hearings are being held in Malé. Adeeb was first brought to Malé earlier this month for a visit to the doctor.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court announced that judges and magistrates are now required to seek permission for time off from work and to recuse themselves from any cases assigned to them.

In December, the apex court had also prohibited courts from going on recess.

The Supreme Court has been criticised for centralising administrative decisions in its hands.