OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES ON THE COUNTRY SITUATION SINCE 1ST FEBRUARY 2018
1. On the 1st of February 2018, by way of Court Order No. 2018/SC-SJ/01, the Supreme Court of the Maldives made the following judgement:
a. Quashed the Supreme Court Case verdict on Case No:2017/SC-A/17;
b. Declared that the Judicial Service Commission has no mandate over the 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;
c. Only the Supreme Court can appoint judges. (The Constitution provides for the Judicial Service Commission and/or Parliament to appoint judges.)
d. Ordered the executive to hold the Opening of Parliament as scheduled; and
e. Ordered the executive to release 9 individuals (some of them having had their cases finished by 3 tiers of court, some of them having their cases of appeal and trial, and some of them under investigation.)
This was done by way judges in Chamber, and not after a hearing.
2. The State was taken by surprise by this Court Order, as it was not in alignment with the Constitution or accepted legal principles.
3. Following the aforementioned Court Order, the Attorney General raised issues of concern and tried to reach the Chief Justice. The Prosecutor General having serious concerns with regards 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.
4. Some of the concerns of the State Lawyers include:
a. Overriding Article 157 (b) of the Constitution and declaring that JSC had no mandate to make Justices of the Supreme Court accountable;
b. Overriding the Judicial Service Commission and Parliamentary mandate to appoint judges.
c. Ordering to release convicted prisoners without quashing or overturning their convictions;
d. Re-trial of convicted prisoners without quashing or overturning their convictions;
e. Supreme Court decisions which have attained Res Judicata or legal finality overturned by a Court Order and not a Court verdict; and
f. Not providing an opportunity to the Attorney General or the Prosecutor General to present its positions, in relation to the previous and on-going cases referred to in the Court Order, which was filed by their respective offices.
5. On Friday, 2nd February 2018, late afternoon, the Chief Justice returned phone calls to both the Attorney General and who communicated his concerns with regards 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 directed the Prosecutor General 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.
6. Following the instruction of the Chief Justice, on Saturday, 3rd February 2018, the Prosecutor General made a detailed submission to the Supreme Court in regards to the Supreme Court Order No.
2018/SC-SJ/01. 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 implementing the said Court Order. 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.
7. On the same day, 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 position, nor was the President given an opportunity to defend himself. The Motion was rejected from the bench on majority decision, 3 dissenting and 2 assenting, on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction for the Supreme Court to decide on the matter.
8. Following these developments, on 4th February 2018 (Sunday early morning), the Attorney General issued his Official Opinion to the President of the Maldives, and to the Army Chief and the Acting Police Commissioner that the Supreme Court had 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.
9. The Justices, on the same day, then sought to dismiss the Attorney General from his post for publicly stating his legal opinion to the State and to the President and to order the Police to present the Attorney General to the Supreme Court after arresting him. The Motion was tabled by the Chief Justice on the grounds that the Attorney General was perverting the course of justice. The Motion was rejected from the Bench on majority decision, 3 dissenting and 2 assenting.
10. Thereby, the Prosecutor General wrote to the President on the Supreme Court’s response to her submission, and to the complexities arising from the Supreme Court Order No. 2018/SC-SJ/01.
11. The President then invoked Article 115 (a), and (c) of the Constitution and made 4 separate Appeals to the Supreme Court. They are
a. Appeal to annul relevant parts of the Court over riding Article annul the Court Order which overrides the Powers of the Judicial Service Commission over Supreme Court Judges.
b. To address and give redress to the concerns of the Prosecutor General in her appeal to the Supreme Court.
c. To annul the Supreme Court Order stopping the investigation into the Judicial Administrator.
d. To not use the hereditary powers of the Supreme Court and Judiciary to stop the work of State Officials and to cripple the administration of the State.
12. The Chief Justice while in Chambers refused to accept the Presidents Appeal’s and also disabled the electronic transmission to the Supreme Court thus blocking all communication. Numerous attempts made to lodge the appeals, thereby failed.
13. The Chief Justice then also tabled to the Supreme Court Bench, motions to re-instate the dismissed State Officials; The Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Areef; and the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Saudhee. These were also dismissed in the bench on majority decision, 3 dissenting and 2 assenting.
14. The Supreme Court also issued a Court Order quashing the 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.
15. 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 mandates and legal duties, and 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, and by refusing the communicate with the executive offices, constitutionally established independent bodies, and with the President of the Republic of the Maldives after repeated attempts to resolve the matters.
16. 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.
17. The State of Emergency is declared for 15 days and has no curfew. All schools, offices and businesses remain open; there are no riots and no safety issues.