The Department of Judicial Administration suspended Supreme Court director Athika Ibrahim in “an act of bullying” in clear violation of rules governing the judiciary’s staff, Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi contended in a statement on Wednesday.
The DJA suspended Athika with effect on Wednesday pending an investigation of a complaint. But the 2011 regulations authorised courts to take disciplinary action against its staff in the first instance, the chief justice said, and the DJA could only suspend an employee after the court’s decision is appealed to the department.
But Athika was abruptly suspended in the absence of any complaints submitted to the Supreme Court and without allowing her to speak in her defence, Didi continued, expressing “shock and regret” over the DJA’s alleged violations of due process and the principles of natural justice.
The DJA has been “obstructing” the duties mandated by the judicature act to oversee the apex court’s administration, he added. Its “unconstitutional, unlawful, extremely shameful and lowly acts” were intended to “take away the independence of Maldivian courts, create a culture of exerting influence and power inside courts, and create an environment where judges cannot work,” the chief justice said, declaring that he would not allow unfair disciplinary action against Supreme Court staff.
The DJA – which is tasked with managements of the courts – was previously under the direct control of the Supreme Court but parliament recently amended the Judicial Service Commission Act to bring back the department under the watchdog.