|Senior MDP Officials and the President is in Criminal Contempt of Court.|
With little hope of a negotiated settlement on the unfolding Melodrama of President Nasheed’s rule of Maldives, he now appears to be bracing in for the ultimate fight like Colonel Muamar Gadhafi, Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak did during their last days in office. Self-proclaimed democrat Mohamed Nasheed’s short period in office has been mystified with arbitrary arrest of opposition leaders, seizures of Judges and forceful shutting of the Supreme Court of Maldives.
On the wee hours of 16th January the nation was plunged into yet another chaotic situation with the abduction of the Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed (Abdulla Qazi) from his house and holding him in involuntary confinement without any legal basis by the military. This action was prompted after Judge Abdulla Mohamed released an opposition leader who was detained by the police without a warrant for allegedly defaming the government.
The High Court and the Supreme Court issued judgment to release Judge Abdulla Mohamed immediately without precondition. President Nasheed has failed to comply with the ruling thus far. The opposition claims “The President is in Contempt of Supreme Court” and demands legal action. A Joint anti-Nasheed demonstration is now making its way into the second week in Male.
Mr. Umar Naseer Vice President of PPM claims, they will continue the demonstrations until Judge Abdulla is released, the authority of the Judiciary established and those guilty of criminal offences against the constitution and the people of Maldives are punished.
In his weekly radio address to the nation the President claimed Constitutional Authority over the Judiciary and the Legislature to ensure smooth functioning of the Constitution, but stopped short of declaring Martial Law and suspension of the Constitution, although on previous occasions he has been quoted as saying that the Constitution is in state of Suspense.
The wrangling over interpretation of the 2008 constitution’s definitions on the rights and responsibilities of the three separated powers amongst the political parties continues, with each side differing in their interpretations. Refusal of the Government and failure of the opposition to follow constitutional guidelines set out for the interpretation of the Constitution through the Supreme Court is fuelling the Oppositions March now, well into its eighth day.
Chapter II - Fundamental Freedoms Article 69 of the 2008 Constitution states “ No provision of the Constitution shall be interpreted or translated in a manner that would grant to the State or any group or person the right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of the rights and freedoms set out in this Constitution”.
Chapter IV - The Judiciary, Article 145c goes on to state; “The Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the Law, and any other matter dealt with by a court of law ” .
In a leaked recording of the President’s address to the Police on January 26, 2012, he expresses his decision to instruct the Ministry of Finance to withhold the salaries of all the Judges in all the lower courts of Maldives. This is without doubt an attempt to disrupt the process of Justice in the country which tantamount to nothing short of criminal contempt of Court.
Contempt of Court? Yes indeed! Any willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court order or any misconduct in the presence of a court; any action that interferes with a judge's ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the court; is a contempt of court. It is a charge which can result in fines and jail time and should not stop short of an Impeachment in the case of a President being in contempt of Court.
There are two types of contempt civil and criminal contempt. In addition, contempt can be either direct (occurs in front of the judge and disrupts the court proceedings) or indirect (occurs outside the presence of the judge). Civil contempt occurs when a person refuses to obey a court order. Civil contempt can be "purged" by following the court order. A fine, confinement in jail, or both can be imposed for civil contempt. Criminal contempt involves conduct that interferes with or obstructs justice. Examples of criminal contempt include threatening or insulting a judge or witness and disobeying a subpoena to produce evidence. With criminal contempt, the act of contempt has been completed and the contempt cannot be "purged." The punishment is imposed to vindicate the court's authority.
On a sad note it appears that the Maldivian honey moon with democracy has turned into a wild lusty Demon-cracy with the police forces by night. The fear of this scenario repetition in subsequent administrations is beginning to baffle the public. The question that remains to be answered is how could this lunacy be stopped, and what measures need to be taken prevent repetition of abuse of power by subsequent leaders?