The Judicial Service Commission has formed a committee chaired by Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath to investigate allegations about gangs nominating judges, providing private security, and “fixing” trials.
The committee decided at its first meeting on Thursday to seek information and evidence about the claims made by Husnu Suood, chair of a presidential commission formed to investigate unresolved murders and enforced disappearances.
“As the allegations made against judges are very concerning to the public and finding the truth is important to ensure the integrity of judges and to maintain trust in the judiciary, it was decided to carry out the committee’s work swiftly and to inform the public about its progress,” the JSC said in a brief statement.
The watchdog’s sub-committee also decided to request information from Suood, who has pledged to cooperate with the inquiry.
The Judicial Service Commission is a 10-member oversight body tasked with investigating complaints against judges and taking disciplinary action. It is comprised of representatives from the executive, legislature and judiciary.
The committee to investigate the alleged gang connections was formed after the Department of Judicial Administration accused the presidential commission of refusing to provide information requested by the Supreme Court about Suood’s allegations.
At a press briefing Wednesday, officials from the DJA – which functions under the Supreme Court’s supervision – condemned the allegations as “baseless” and threatened to take action against Suood over contempt of court, echoing the angry reaction of the criminal court.
“I do not believe that there should be any reason to refuse to share information with the Supreme Court of the Maldives if his comments about the judiciary were based on proper evidence and with a good basis,” said Ahmed Majid, chancellor of the Judicial Academy.
There was no obstacle to holding Suood in contempt of court, he warned.
“Whether action will be taken and the type of action to be taken will be determined by the Supreme Court under the guidelines,” he added.
Majid questioned Suood’s intention in making the allegations publicly without submitting complaints to the judicial watchdog.
“Even if it is a member or the chair of the commission, acting in this regard is a violation of the mandate given to it by the president of the Maldives. It is nothing other than failing to carry out their mandated responsibilities,” he said.
Journalists from Raajje TV were meanwhile barred from covering the DJA’s press briefing.
The DJA cited a decision by the Supreme Court to ban the private station from covering trials and events related to judiciary for airing content that was deemed defamatory to the courts.