The Judicial Service Commission on Wednesday night accepted Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Areef request to retire due to health reasons and recommended the dismissal of Justice Abdul Ghanee Mohamed.
The watchdog decided to recommend Ghanee’s impeachment to parliament after an investigation committee concluded violations of the code of conduct. Ghanee, who was appointed to the bench in June 2018, was suspended for 60 days.
In light of Areef’s retirement, the JSC also decided to put Justice Azmiralda Zahir in charge of the apex court.
Ghanee’s likely impeachment next week would complete an overhaul of the Supreme Court with the removal of all five justices on the bench when the new administration took office in November last year.
Judicial reform was a key pledge of both President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his Maldivian Democratic Party’s campaign for April’s parliamentary elections. With its landslide victory, the MDP secured well above the two-thirds majority needed to remove judges and went on to sack former justice Abdulla Didi in late August.
After legal changes were approved to increase the Supreme Court bench from five to seven justices, parliament in early September confirmed the president’s nominations of former judges Dr Azmiralda Zahir and Aisha Shujune Mohamed as the first female justices of the Supreme Court. Former drug court judge Mahaz Ali Zahir was appointed to replace Abdulla Didi in late October.
On Monday, parliament sacked Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla. Ghanee’s imminent removal and Areef’s retirement will leave four vacancies on the bench.
After completing a Bachelor of Shari’ah from the Islamic University of Medina, Areef worked as a criminal court judge from 1998 until his appointment to the newly-formed Supreme Court in 2008. He retained his place after an interim period expired in August 2010 and went on to serve as chair of the Judicial Service Commission since July 2017.
Areef was part of the dissenting minority in some of the court’s most controversial decisions, such as the annulment of the 2013 presidential election. In the wake of a shock ruling signed by the full bench on February 1, 2018, he was among three justices who rescinded the order for the release of political prisoners after the arrest of former chief justice Abdulla Saeed and justice Ali Hameed during a state of emergency.