Detained Supreme Court justices suspended without pay

Detained Supreme Court justices suspended without pay
April 04 08:43 2018

The judicial watchdog on Tuesday suspended and discontinued wages for detained Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed.

The Judicial Service Commission made the decision with reference to recent changes brought to the Judges Act, which state that the oversight body must suspend judges without pay once they have been charged with a criminal offence.

The two Supreme Court justices are facing trial on terrorism and bribery charges over an alleged conspiracy to remove President Abdulla Yameen from office.

His administration contends that the Supreme Court instigated a coup and triggered a constitutional crisis with its February 1 order for the release of Yameen’s jailed opponents and the reinstatement of opposition lawmakers.

The two judges were arrested hours after Yameen invoked emergency powers on February 5 and suspended constitutional rights and legal immunities for judges.

The JSC’s suspension of the pair prompted condemnation from the opposition Tuesday, with MP Ali Hussain telling the press that using laws to “target” specific individuals was unacceptable.

The Chief Justice earns MVR73,000 (US$4,700) as salary and allowances. The four other justices are paid MVR71,000 a month.

Last month, the opposition asked the reduced Supreme Court bench to strike down the amendments brought to the Judges Act on the grounds that parliament had voted without the constitutional quorum needed to pass laws.

More than half the 85-member house must be present for voting on “any matter requiring compliance by citizens” but only 39 lawmakers attended the March 13 sitting when the bill was put to a vote.

The apex court is due to rule on the constitutionality of both the legal changes and a new anti-defection bill that penalises floor crossing by stripping lawmakers of their seats.