Male, February 6 (newsin.asia): In a significant revision of the suspensions announced in his Declaration of the State of Emergency on February 5, the Maldivian President, Abdulla Yameen, on Tuesday lifted the suspension of Article Art 145 C of the Constitution.
Art 145 C says that the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.
The Supreme Court which had been totally crippled by the earlier order, is now back on its feet with its legal supremacy restored.
Supreme Court’s Actions Bristled With Illegalities
While lifting the suspension on Art 145 C, the government has pointed out that the Supreme Court’s rulings and procedures in regard to certain matters of high importance bristles with illegalities.
The Supreme Court’s order dated February 1, quashed an earlier Supreme Court Case verdict and declared that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has no mandate over Supreme Court Justices, overriding Article 159 of the Constitution which empowers the Judicial Services Commission to appoint, investigate complaints against, and give recommendations for dismissal of judges.
The court also ordered the Executive to hold the Opening of Parliament as scheduled, and to release nine individuals from prison.
“This order was given in the Judges’ Chamber and not in an open court and without a hearing,” the President’s office pointed out in a statement.
“The State was taken by surprise by this Court Order, as it was not in alignment with the Constitution,” the statement said.
Following the aforementioned Supreme Court order, the Attorney General raised issues of concern and tried to reach the Chief Justice.
The Prosecutor General who had been having serious concerns with regard to the implementation of the court order, had also tried to reach the Chief Justice. In fact, several attempts were made including a number of phone calls.
“The Chief Justice was in Chambers, and had purposely refused to communicate with the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General,” the government charged.
Convictions Not Quashed Before Ordering Release
There were concerns about the order to release convicted prisoners without quashing or overturning their convictions; and to have a re-trial of convicted prisoners without quashing or overturning their convictions.
The Supreme Court’s earlier decision which had attained “Res Judicata” or legal finality, was overturned by a “Court Order” and not a “Court Verdict,” the government statement contended.
“The Supreme Court did not provide an opportunity to the Attorney General or the Prosecutor General to present their positions, in relation to the previous and on-going cases referred to in the Court Order,” the government pointed out.
On Friday, February 2, 2018, late afternoon, the Chief Justice returned phone calls to both the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General and these two officers communicated their concerns with regard to the legal complexities and the implementation of the Court Order, including the inability to implement the Court Order while adhering to existing laws and legal procedures in the country.
The Prosecutor General was then directed to submit to the Supreme Court, her concerns as discussed, and instructed to follow due process in the implementation of the Court Order, and within the limits of the legal process and procedures.
On Saturday, February 3, the Prosecutor General made a detailed submission to the Supreme Court in regard to the Supreme Court Order of February 1.
But on Sunday night, the Supreme Court issued a statement in response to the detailed submission, and stated that there are “no legal obstacles to the implementation of its orders.”
“Bur the Prosecutor General was not given a hearing, or an audience, to present her case and her concerns to the Bench nor to the Registrar,” the government pointed out.
Court Deliberated Dismissal President
On Sunday, the Supreme Court Bench deliberated on a motion to declare the President dismissed from his post.
The Motion was tabled by the Chief Justice and the debate took place in Chambers.
“The Attorney General was not given an opportunity to present the State’s position, nor was the President given an opportunity to defend himself,” the government statement said..
But the Motion was rejected by a majority decision, 3 judges dissenting and 2 assenting. The rejection was based on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction for the Supreme Court to decide on the matter.
Following these developments, on February 4, the Attorney General issued his official opinion to the President and to the Army Chief and the Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Areef; and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Saudhee.
And the Supreme Court was told that it has no constitutional and/or legal power to dismiss a sitting President from Office.
This was followed by a public statement from the Attorney General and to the same effect, which was accepted by the Army Chief and the Acting Police Commissioner, in a joint press statement.
Court Bid to Sack Attorney General
The Supreme Court Justices, on the same day, then sought an order to dismiss the Attorney General from his post. The Supreme Court also issued an order quashing an arrest warrant of the Criminal Court against the Chief Judicial Administrator on suspicion of corruption, where both the Chief Justice and Justice Ali Hameed of the Supreme Court were implicated.
However, this Supreme Court Order was not a “ruling” on the Bench of the Supreme Court, but an “order of the Chief Justice on behalf of all the Justices,” the government pointed out.
“The Supreme Court thus, attempted to subvert the government and hold hostage the work of the government by obstructing the work of the Executive in carrying out its constitutional mandate and legal duties.”
“It perverted the course of justice by quashing Court Orders issued by the Criminal Court in corruption investigations which implicated some of its members, by rejecting submissions made by State lawyers, the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General.”
“It refused to communicate with the executive offices, constitutionally established independent bodies, and with the President of the Republic of the Maldives even after repeated attempts to resolve the matters,” the government stressed.
“Finally, after numerous attempts to resolve the issue, and serious consideration of the crisis at hand, the President was forced to declare a State of Emergency, to ensure the smooth running of the State, as is mandated to him, and after exhausting all venues available to him, legally and protocol wise, to ease out the situation,” the statement said.
“The State of Emergency was declared for 15 days. There is no curfew. All schools, offices and businesses remain open; there are no riots and no safety concerns,” it added.
(The Features image at top shows the Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed with President Abdulla Yameen)