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Maldives Supreme Court to handpick judges for orders

New rules on criminal trials came into effect on Wednesday.



The Maldives Supreme Court can handpick which judges can issue orders, according to a new regulation that came into effect Wednesday.

New rules on criminal trials were published Tuesday, more than a year after the criminal procedures law was implemented.

The law gave three months for the top court and the Prosecutor General’s Office to enact new regulations. The PG’s Office published the regulations within this period, but the Supreme Court did not despite concerns from lawyers.

Under the new rules lawyers who are late to court without a reasonable excuse can be barred for three to six months, and a defendant who fails to appear or is late to court will be fined MVR250 (US$16.22).

The rules also stipulate that a detained suspect can be released on bail or by nominating a guarantor. The amount ranges from MVR5,000 to MVR100,000. The previous rules did not state specific amounts for bail money.

Lower courts used to have the power to decide which judges could issue orders.

With the new rules, the Supreme Court will now decide which judges can issue orders and the lower courts must create a schedule with their names and days assigned for issuing orders. This schedule should be shared with the relevant authorities.

Former attorney general Husnu Suood told the Maldives Independent the new regulations included some things that were difficult to accept.

“I get the feeling the Supreme Court is trying to intervene in the lower courts,” he said. “This intervention is not good,” he said, referring to the top court’s power to select judges.

He also criticised the court for the delays in publishing a regulation that deals with the “basic rights of the people.”

The five-member Supreme Court bench is currently made up of Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and justices Abdulla Areef, Adam Mohamed Abdulla, Abdulla Didi and Abdul Ghanee Mohamed.

The bench was reduced to three members in February following the detention of former chief justice Abdulla Saeed and former justice Ali Hameed.

The pair were removed from the bench after being found guilty of influencing official conduct.