Maldives almost ended up without its Supreme Court

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Colombo
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  • Updated: Aug 08, 2010 19:08 IST

The simmering political and constitutional crisis in Maldives threatened to surface again over the weekend after its Majlis (Parliament) failed to pass a legislation to ensure that the country's interim Supreme Court continues to function.

Maldives current interim Supreme Court's term ended on August 7. The Majlis, where the opposition is in majority, needed to pass a necessary act to make it permanent but failed to do so.

But according to President Mohamed Nasheed's office, the crisis was averted after Nasheed issued a decree at 12 midnight on Sunday to ensure the administrative functions of the Supreme Court continue.

"Chapter 14 of the Constitution established a number of temporary, interim institutions, including the creation of an interim Supreme Court, and stipulated that the people's Majlis must pass a necessary act to make the institutions permanent. The interim period of the Constitution ended on 7 August," a statement from Nasheed's office said.

"The Majlis failed to get its work done on time. This left the President with two options: allow the country to have no Supreme Court at all; or issue a decree so at least the administrative functions of the Supreme Court can continue. The President chose the latter option," Nasheed's press secretary Mohamed Zuhair said.

The Presidential decree appoints four legal practitioners of high repute to continue the day to day administrative functions of the Supreme Court.

But the four-person interim administrative panel will not rule on cases or act as de facto judges. Their powers will be limited to running the overall administration of the Supreme Court and the Department of Judicial Administration, which sits under the Supreme Court. The government has asked the Commonwealth to advise the interim administrative panel.

This new crisis came barely few weeks after Maldives was left without an effective government for days after its cabinet resigned en-masse after a deadlock with the Majlis.


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