The Supreme Court has annulled a High Court ruling on a 46-year-old land dispute, claiming the court’s decision to reopen the case disrupted the system of governance and upset the peace.
Lawyers say the Supreme Court’s ruling is significant because it has stopped the reopening of hundreds of cases dealt by former courts.
The 1969 ruling by the now defunct ministry of justice was appealed at the High Court in November 2013. The appellate court accepted the case referring to special provisions that give judges to accept late appeals.
The High Court overturned the justice ministry’s ruling in 2014. The Supreme Court then issued a writ of prohibition last week stating: “The High Court’s decision to accept and reopen the case goes disrupts public peace and upsets legal precedences set in the Maldives.”
The apex court noted the period to appeal rulings by the ministry of justice had expired.
Welcoming the Supreme Court’s verdict, former Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz said: “This case was dealt in the 1960’s when there was no law on land and distribution. There would be more than a hundred similar cases. So if we were to reopen cases like these it would disrupt many families.”
“In my opinion the Supreme Court took this decision as a safety measure to prevent the reopening of such cases,” he added.
Opposition MP and lawyer Ali Hussain said if the High Court’s ruling on the land dispute were to stand, it would have opened a floodgate.
“I think the court contemplated the interest of the whole nation in this case. There must be so many cases that were dealt by the courts in the 90’s that would appear to be unreasonable now,” he said.