The Supreme Court has ruled that the recently approved controversial legal changes to sack judges convicted of criminal offences is constitutional.
The Judges Act was amended in March so that judges convicted of a criminal offence can be removed from office – without parliament’s involvement – after the appeal process has been completed.
The opposition, citing the constitution, said only parliament has the power to remove judges even if they are convicted and asked the apex court to decide on the changes’ legality.
The three-member judges bench unanimously decided that the amendment is constitutional and ruled out any grounds to cancel it.
The opposition had challenged the legality of the amendment because the ruling coalition lacked the constitutional quorum needed to pass laws.
More than half the 85-member house must be present for voting on “any matter requiring compliance by citizens.” But only 39 MPs attended the sitting when the bill was approved.
Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla said the amendment was passed without the quorum, but ruled that arguments made by state attorneys about a “doctrine of necessity”overruled the need to follow a constitutional requirement.
The amendment was approved following the detention of Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed over an alleged coup plot to overthrow the government.
The suspended pair are currently on trial on four separate charges, including bribery and terrorism, and will be removed from the apex court if found guilty.
Earlier this week Saeed denied the obstruction of justice charge against him, slamming the judicial process and his detention.
His lawyers have also said he denies accepting bribes and attempting to overthrow the government.