Yesterday, the Parliament of Maldives has passed the Court Act 2010. Court Act was a new act, and would deliver wide range of comprehension to the Lawmakers, Judges, lawyers, Enforcement Institutions and to the public.
The government designed the said act with the comments and approval of concerned authorities. The act stipulates that there shall be Three-Level of Courts in Maldives; Supreme court, High Court, Superior Courts and Magistrate Courts.
Nevertheless, it was in my mind that if they could have incorporated the following ideas to the said act, it would me much competence to govern the court system and the delivery of justice to the people.
Concept of Judicial Decentralization
When I refer to the statistics of the Island Courts, there are courts left with only one case decided in a year. These islands have a population of not more than thousand. And most of the people are living other Islands, in Male’ and other developing Islands.
When I see the stats of the Dep. of Judicial Administration I found that island Courts has more than 1000 staffs. Their salary shall be around 4000 in average in a month, if so the state has to spend 4,000,000 MRF averagely in a month excluding the administrative costs and other overheads (Electricity, Phone, Internet, and Repair & Maintenance. I’m of sure that they aren’t capable deciding 200 cases in a month (in all islands).
So, the act shall incorporate that, there will not be a Magistrate Court in every island. But, the Magistrate Court will be in the Capital Island, where the Magistrates can visit islands once a month and will hold mobile court proceedings. And I’m of the opinion that the courts shall be able to deliver Court Orders electronically to the Police forces.
All matrimonial Cases can be divided to classes:
Marriage shall be preceding by the scholar who is in charge of the mosque. I think marriage is religious, where by the Quran stipulates that it is so. So, it shall be a religious ceremony rather being to a strict court proceeding.
All divorce cases, dower, dowry and matters related to the conjugal rights can be decided by the judges on his weekly visit to the islands.
There shall be a high court in every atoll, where the people can leave for an appeal at the nearest destination rather choosing Male’. When I was working to a local NGO, I found that there are many cases that the defendant has lost the chance to apply for the leave of appeal. We had a good experience with these people even though we are not legal practitioners. How can an ordinary man come to Male’ and wait for the verdict? The verdict cannot be reached before FIVE months. It was the experience we had.
So, Islanders cannot reside in Male’ waiting for the verdict. But, if the state provides the chance for them to apply for appeal in the next nearest destinations justice would be delivered.
In every province, there shall be a High Court, and if land mark cases are put forward, some judges from the Male’ High Court can visit and decide the case.
Regardless to this, the bill was well drafted and the Parliament has incorporated some amendments.