The Supreme Court has lifted a ban imposed on Raajje TV five months ago from covering any trials or events organised by the judiciary.
The station’s reporters were barred from observing proceedings or attending functions until an inquiry was concluded into alleged contempt of court. Content aired on October 31 where hosts of the Fashaairu morning programme spoke about the injustice of courts in the kingdom of Sodom was deemed to have violated contempt of court regulations.
The remarks were “contemptuous of judges, especially the Supreme Court and Supreme Court justices, and demeaning to the honour and dignity of the whole judiciary,” the Department of Judicial Administration contended at the time, as the privately-owned station insisted they never compared the Maldivian judiciary to the ancient city that faced divine punishment.
After Raajje TV wrote twice requesting permission to resume covering trials, the DJA – which functions under the direct supervision of the apex court – informed the station on Thursday that the Supreme Court’s justices have decided to lift the ban.
The contempt of court rules cover any utterance or action that demeans a court, a judge, or court officer. It prohibits criticising or berating a court or a judge, or committing any act that causes loss of respect and dignity of a court or a judge, or attempting to bring the court into disrepute.
The Raajje TV ban came after the Supreme Court suspended three prominent lawyers for criticising its decisions, two of whom were punished over tweets.
In 2015, the criminal court barred Raajje TV journalists from covering trials after a cameramen filmed a meeting between a judge and the prosecutor general. The suspension was later lifted.