The Judicial Service Commission is to probe allegations of misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi in public – a first in its 11-year history.
The move follows a request by Didi, who was summoned to attend a hearing of the commission’s internal investigative committee on Monday night, that any investigations against him be as open as possible.
Didi is alleged to have taken a US$1 million bribe in 2015 to sentence former President Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in jail. He is also suspected of using his position as a top court judge to gain undue influence over others.
In addition, the judicial watchdog wants to know why Didi is continuing to go to work at the Supreme Court after being suspended.
After the meeting on Monday night, his lawyer Adam Asif said his client would “fully cooperate” with the JSC probe. He also said the commission had asked Didi to notify them beforehand if he intended to leave the country.
At last night’s meeting, the JSC agreed to instruct the Supreme Court that it could not make an constitutional case against Didi’s suspension.
The commission also decided to allow complaints against judges to be fast-tracked. The change mean complaints will be investigated as soon as it is decided the complaint warrants further scrutiny, without the need for the commission’s lawyers to make a report.
It is alleged that a US$1 million bribe paid to Didi was deposited in his wife’s US dollar bank account in Malaysia. Ghaniya Abdul Ghafoor is the Maldivian deputy ambassador to Malaysia.
While Didi categorically denied any personal wrongdoing, he did not deny that the money was deposited in his wife’s bank account.
“I deny these false accusations in the newspapers, and assure [you] that there is no undeserved money in bank accounts belonging to me or people related to me,” he said.
Didi was promoted to the Supreme Court in June 2018 after two justices were removed from the bench.
Before his promotion to the top court, Didi was chief judge of the High Court, an appointment he took up in February 2016.
The JSC was established to promote the separation of powers and in particular, judicial independence in the Maldives. It has the power to investigate complaints about judges and to take disciplinary action against them, including recommending their dismissal.
Additional reporting by Hassan Moosa