The parliament’s independent institutions committee has rejected High Court Judge Dr Azmiralda Zahir’s complaint regarding her transfer to the court’s newly established southern branch.
Azmiralda – the most senior female judge in Maldives – filed a complaint with the Judicial Services Commission last month stating that her “forced” relocation to the southern Addu City has infringed her rights as well as that of her two young children.
She formally wrote to the parliamentary oversight committee in mid-March after the judicial watchdog body failed to respond.
Azmiralda claims that the Supreme Court has also refused to answer her written queries.
The independent institutions committee of the People’s Majlis declared today that it did not have the authority and jurisdiction to review the decisions of independent commissions, as such scrutiny would undermine their independence.
MP Ali Saleem of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, chair of the independent institutions committee, was unavailable for comment as his phone was switched off.
Rozaina Adam, an MP with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, criticised the move, saying: “The judge had not asked the committee to rule on the validity of a decision taken by the JSC, she is merely asking the committee to look into why the Supreme Court and JSC had not responded to her queries and officially submitted complaint.”
The committee also rejected an MDP motion for a letter to the JSC and the Supreme Court clarifying reasons for their failure to respond to the judge’s request.
The ruling party and its ally Maldives Development Alliance control voting majorities in all parliamentary oversight committee.
The International Commission of Jurists meanwhile highlighted Azmiralda’s transfer in a statement released yesterday, which condemned the Maldivian state’s continued “arbitrary and politically motivated actions against judges”.
Azmiralda was transferred without formal notice or opportunity to challenge her transfer, the ICJ noted.
The organisation also accused the government of using the threat of transfer or removal of judges as a tactic of political retribution, harassment and intimidation.
Azmiralda was among three judges chosen by the Supreme Court in June last year for the newly-established branch in the southernmost atoll. One of the three, Abbas Shareef, retired in September citing health problems.
The nine-member High Court bench was divided by amendments brought to the Judicature Act in December 2015. Two regional branches were set up to hear appeals of magistrate court verdicts while only the main branch in the capital was to decide on constitutional challenges to laws and regulations.
Azmiralda noted in her letters to the JSC and the Majlis oversight committee that despite the Supreme Court having established the southern regional branch of the High Court, the northern branch has not yet been established.