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Judicial watchdog to review performance of all judges

Attorney general moves to increase supreme court’s bench from five to seven.



The supreme court in Malé.

The Judicial Service Commission has decided to review the performance of all judges after a parliamentary motion called for an appraisal of the supreme court’s justices. 

The review will be in line with guidelines in place to assess performance and eligibility, the JSC said in a press brief, adding that it would first seek the advice of foreign consultants.

Parliament passed a resolution last week calling on the commission to take action against the supreme court if it exceeded its legal remit.

The JSC said that a letter sent by parliament in relation to the motion had asked the commission to review the eligibility of supreme court judges and investigate corruption allegations made against them.

However, after meeting on Monday, JSC members decided that the performance of all judges needed to be reviewed, including those in the lower courts.

“Since this is the first time the performance and eligibility of judges in the Maldives is being reviewed, it was decided to do this with the advice of consultants, including foreign advisers,” the press brief said, adding that after taking advice, the process would begin “very soon”.

The JSC said it will also seek technical advice from foreign consultants to conduct a study to determine whether the apex court had interfered with the work of the commission and other state institutions.

Article 285 of the democratic constitution adopted in 2008 mandated that the JSC review the eligibility of judges two years after the adoption of the constitution. 

But in August 2010, some 191 judges across the country were sworn in for life after the then JSC chair, Mujthaz Fahmy, declared article 285 to be merely “symbolic”.

The JSC on Monday also decided to form internal committees to investigate complaints against a criminal court judge and a high court judge.

In a separate development, the commission has decided to lift the suspension on magistrate judge Ahmed Nihan. He was suspend in 2016 over allegations he had forged a court order to arrest former president Abdulla Yameen.

Meanwhile, the attorney general, Ibrahim Riffath, announced on Tuesday evening that an amendment to the Judicature Act to increase the supreme court’s bench from five to seven would be sent to parliament this week.