Judiciary in the Maldives

Judiciary in the Maldives
According to the Constitution of Maldives, "The judges are independent, and subject only to the constitution and the law. When deciding matters on which the Constitution or the law is silent, judges must consider Islamic Shari'ah."
The independent Judicial Services Commission is the core of the judiciary. It is constitutionally mandated to oversee the appointment and dismissal of judges, and acts as a 'watchdog' to ensure that Judges uphold the code of conduct. Currently in an interim stage, one member is appointed by the president others come from the Civil Service Commission, parliament, the public, high court judge, lower court judge and a supreme court member.

Concerns have been raised over the independence of the commission, given that of eight interim members, the President appoints one and all current judges were appointed by President Gayoom under the previous constitution, of whom two were appointed to the commission.

The Supreme Court of Maldives is headed by a Chief Justice, who is the head of judiciary. As of 2008 the President had appointed 5 judges, who were approved by the Parliament. The interim court will sit until a new permanent Supreme Court is nominated under the constitution. Underneath the Supreme Court sit a High Court and a Trial court. The constitution requires an odd number of judges in the High Court of Maldives, leading to the current three appointed justices. Verdicts must be reached by a majority, but must also include a minority report.

An appointed Prosecutor General (PG) is responsible for initiating court proceedings on behalf of the government, overseeing how investigations are being conducted and having a say in criminal prosecutions, duties previously held by the Attorney General. The PG has the power to order investigations, monitor detentions, lodge appeals and review existing cases. The PG is appointed by the President and has to be approved by the Parliament.

The Maldives, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), wrote the world's first Islamic criminal code. As of 2008 the code awaited action by the parliament.

With the Constitution of 2008, the Maldivian Judiciary has entered a new phase of transformation and progress. Under the Constitution, the Maldivian Judiciary is as independent as it has ever being, and the current Constitution established, for the first time in the history of the Maldives, a Supreme Court, and declared it the highest institution of the Maldivian Judiciary.

The structure of the Judiciary is as follows:

    * The Supreme Court of Maldives is the highest Court,
    * The High Court of the Maldives.
    * The third level in the hierarchy stand five Superior Courts in Male’:
          o The Criminal Court of Maldives
          o The Civil Court of Maldives
          o The Family Court of Maldives
          o The Juvenile Court of Maldives
          o The Drug Court of Maldives
    * At the fourth and the last level of the hierarchy, there are the Magistrate Courts, which are the subordinate courts.

Magistrate courts are located in the administrative divisions of the atolls of the Maldives, with a Magistrate Court in each inhabited island. At the moment, there are 194 Magistrate Courts in the country.