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Research Guide on Legal System and Research of Maldives

By Mohamed Ibrahim and Md. Ershadul Karim

Mohamed Ibrahim is an Advocate at the Supreme Court of Maldives, obtained BA, LLB degrees in Pakistan and secured an LLM degree in the United Kingdom.

Md. Ershadul Karim  is a non-practicing lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court and the Editor of Chancery Law Chronicles, the first ever-Online Database of Bangladesh Laws and currently a Doctoral Candidate in Nanotechnology Law and Policy in the University of Malaya, Malaysia.

 

Published June/July 2013

 

Table of Contents

1.     Introduction

2.     Legal History of Maldives

3.     The Constitution

4.     The Political System

5.     The Executive

6.     The President’s Duties and Powers

7.     The Cabinet

8.     Local Councils

9.     Statutory Bodies

9.1. Judicial Service Commission

9.1.1.      Composition of the Judicial Service Commission

9.1.2.     Removal from Office

9.2.  Prosecutor General Office

9.3.  Human Rights Commission of the Maldives

9.4.  Civil Service Commission of the Maldives

9.5.  Election Commission

9.6.  Police Integrity Commission

9.7.  Broadcasting Commission

9.8.   Media Council

9.9.  Anti-Corruption Commission

9.10.                Auditor General Office

9.11.                Maldives Inland Revenue Authority

9.12.                Capital Market Development Authority

9.13.                Maldives Monetary Authority

9.14.                Maldives Pension Administrative Office

9.15.                Local Government Authority  

9.16.                Customs Integrity Commission

10.  The Parliament, People’s Majlis

10.1.                Legislation Process

10.2.                Publication of Laws in the Government Gazette

10.3.                Secondary Legislation

11.   The Judiciary

11.1. The Supreme Court

11.1.1.    Appointment of Judges

11.1.2.   Appointment of the Chief Justice

11.1.3.   Appointment of Supreme Court’s Judges

11.2.                The High Court, Lower Court

11.2.1.   Appointment of High Court, Lower Court’s Judges

11.2.2.   Qualifications of Judges

11.2.3.   Tenure and Removal of Judges

12.  The Court System

12.1.                Supreme Court of the Maldives

12.1.1.   Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

12.1.2.   Original Jurisdiction

12.1.3.   Inherent Jurisdiction

12.1.4.   Appellate Jurisdiction  

12.1.5.   Direction under Article 95 of the Constitution

12.2.                High Court of the Maldives

12.2.1.   Jurisdiction of the High Court

12.2.2.  Supervisory Jurisdiction

12.3.                Superior Courts

12.4.                Magistrate Courts

13.  Quasi-Judicial Bodies/Tribunals  

13.1.                The Employment Tribunal

13.2.                Tax Appeal Tribunal

14.  Criminal Laws

15.  Family Laws

16.  Islamic Law

17.  Civil Laws

18.  Legal Profession

19.  Law Firms

20.  Legal Education and Research

21.  Database of Laws of Maldives

22.  Invest Maldives

23.  Maldives and International Treaty Obligations

 

1. Introduction

Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean neighboring countries are India and Sri Lanka. Previously, the country was sultanate under Portuguese and then was British protectorate and obtained independence in 1965. Islam is the state religion and Dhivehi is a local language. English is widely spoken and considered as business language. The country is made up of 1,190 islands in 20 atolls which are spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometer. Only 192 of the islands are inhabited, and 70 percent of those have a population of less than 1,000 people.

The Maldives legal system is based on an admixture of Islamic Law and English common law. English common law greatly influences the civil and commercial laws of the country.

To know more about the country, please visit Commonwealth country profile on Maldives and Commonwealth Governance.

A very informative paper on the history of the country, legal history, court system, and criminal justice system can be found here.

Observation of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Judiciary and Legal System of Maldives can be found here.

2. Legal History of Maldives

When the British came to control most of the areas of the Indian Ocean by the late nineteenth century, the Maldivian Sultan entered into an agreement with the Governor of Ceylon in 1887, which allowed the country to enjoy the status of a protected state without actually becoming a protectorate. The British could control external affairs only and had no authority over the internal affairs of the country. Finally, the country became independent in July 1965.

3. The Constitution

The first written Constitution of Maldives was adopted on 22 December 1932. Since then, there were seven Constitutions and created in years 1932, 1942, 1953, 1954, 1968, 1997 and 2008 in the Maldives. The current Constitution which came into force on 7th October 2008 can be found here.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Article 268 of the Constitution provides as follows:

“All laws of the Maldives must be enacted in accordance with this Constitution. Any law or part of any law inconsistent with this Constitution is, to the extent of its inconsistency, void and of no force and effect. The obligations imposed by this Constitution must be fulfilled. Any conduct contrary to this Constitution shall be invalid.”       

The Constitution of Maldives guarantees fundamental rights and freedom to all persons in the Chapter II of the Constitution. (Arts.16-69).

Furthermore, the Constitution of Maldives provides for powers, obligations and duties of the Parliament, the President and the Judiciary. It also, provides functions and mandates of the Constitutional Bodies, those facilities to run the State smoothly and uphold the Constitution.

4. The Political System

Maldives is a republic, based on a multi party presidential form of Political System. The three organs of the government, i.e. Executive, Judiciary and the Parliament, work separately independently which is resemble by nature American style of Separation of Powers.

Article 4 of the Constitution provides that all the powers of the State of the Maldives are derived from, and remain with, the citizens. Article 5 of the Constitution states that all legislative power in the Maldives is vested in the People’s Majlis and Article 6 of the Constitution provides that the executive power is vested to the President. By virtue of Article 7 of the Constitution the judicial power is vested to in the courts of the Maldives.

5. The Executive

Maldives has a presidential form of government. The President is elected by direct vote of the people. He is the head of the state, the Head of the government and the Head of Armed Force. The President delegates his duties and powers through his Ministers and officers appointed as per the laws at the national level. At the local levels, the government duties are designated to the local councils, i.e. Island’s Council, Atoll’s Council and City’s Council. These Councils are elected by the direct vote of the citizens i.e. the Island’s Council is elected by the island community, the Atoll’s Council is elected by the Atolls’ community and the City’s Council is elected by the City community.

6. The President’s Duties and Powers

Pursuant to Article 115 of the Constitution of the Maldives, the President shall have following duties and powers;

(a)  To faithfully implement the provisions of the Constitution and the  law, and to promote compliance by organs of the state and by the people;

(b)  To supervise the efficient and harmonious functioning of all departments of Government;

(c)   To promote the rule of law, and to protect  the rights and freedoms of all people;

(d)  To guarantee the independence and territorial integrity of the Maldives, and to promote respect for national sovereignty in the international community;

(e)   To formulate fundamental policies of the state and to submit policies and recommendations to appropriate agencies and institution of Government;

(f)   To appoint, dismiss and accept the resignation of members of the cabinet, and such officials necessary for the proper functioning of the duties his office;

(g)  To preside over the Cabinet of Ministers;

(h)  To issue declarations of war and peace, and to immediately submit such declaration to the People’s Majlis for approval;

(i)   To declare a state of emergency,

(j)    To determine, conduct and oversee the foreign policy of the country, and to conduct political relations with foreign nations and international organizations;

(k)  (1) to enter into general treaties and agreements with foreign states and international organizations, which do not impose any obligations on citizens;

(2) to enter into and ratify, with the approval of the People’s Majlis, treaties and agreements with foreign sates and international organizations, which impose obligations on citizens;

(l)   To appoint members of diplomatic missions to foreign countries and international organizations in consultation with the People’s Majlis;

(m)                  To recall and remove from office members of diplomatic missions to foreign countries and international organizations;

(n)  To receive and recognize the credentials of diplomatic and consular representatives of foreign countries and other parties and to accept their letters of recall;

(o)   To appoint temporary commissions to advise the President on national issues of national importance;

(p)  To hold public referendums on issues of national importance;

(q)   To declarer national and government   holidays;

(r)   To issue awards, medals and honorary titles, as provided by law;

(s)   To grant pardons or reductions of sentence as provided by law, to person convicted of a criminal offence who have no further right of appeal;

(t)   To ensure that the security services comply with their obligations as provide in the constitution;

(u)  To perform all other duties specifically authorized by the constitution and by law.

7. The Cabinet

The Constitution provides that there shall be a Cabinet of Ministers to be appointed by the President under Article 129 of the Constitution. It consists of the Vice President, the Ministers in charge of different Ministries, and the Attorney General. The President must receive the approval of the People’s Majlis for the appointments of the members of the cabinet except for the appointment of the Vice President.

8. Local Councils

Under 230 (a) of the Constitution, the administrative division of the Maldives shall be administrated decentrally. Schedule II of the Constitution provides for list of the administrative division (known as “Atolls”) in the Maldives. By virtue of Article 230(b) of the Constitution, the President has the power to create Constituencies, posts, Island Councils, Atoll Councils and City Councils. The Decentralization Act (Law N0.7/2010) provides for three types of local authorities in the Maldives namely; (a) Atoll’s Councils (section 6), (b) Island’s Council (section 21) and (c) City’s Council (section 39).

The unofficial translation of the Decentralization Act, 2010 can be found here.

9. Statutory Bodies

There are various statutory bodies set up as per the Constitution and laws of the Maldives. These includes as follows;

9.1 Judicial Service Commission

Under Article 157 of the Constitution provides that there shall be a Judicial Service Commission, which is an independent and impartial institution.

By virtue of Article 159 of the Constitution, the Commission is entrusted with the following responsibilities and power;

(a)  To appoint, promote and transfer Judges other than the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, and to make recommendations to the President on the appointment of the Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court;

(b)  To investigate complaints about the Judiciary, and to take disciplinary action against them, including recommendations for dismissal;

(c)   To make rules;

1. regarding schemes for recruitment and procedures for the appointment of Judges;

2. ethical standards of Judges;

3.providing for such matters as are necessary or expedient for the exercise, performance and discharge of the duties and responsibilities of the Commission;

(d)  To advise the President and the Peoples Majlis on any other matter relating to the Judiciary or the administration of justice;

(e)   To exercise such additional powers and functions prescribed by the constitution or by law.

9.1.1 Composition of the Judicial Service Commission

Article 160 of the Constitution provides that the President as Head of the State shall constitute the Judicial Service Commission as specified under Article 158 of the Constitution, and it shall consist of:

(a)  The Speaker of the People’s Majlis;

(b)  A judge of the Supreme Court other than the Chief Justice, elected by the Judges of the Supreme Court;

(c)   A judge of the High Court, elected by the Judges of the High Court;

(d)  A Judge of the Trial Courts, elected by the Judges of the Trial Court;

(e)   A member of the People’s Majlis appointed by it;

(f)   A member of the general public appointed by the People’s Majlis;

(g)  The Chair of the Civil Service Commission;

(h)  A person appointed by the President;

(i)   The Attorney General;

(j)    A lawyer elected from the lawyer licensed to practice in the Maldives by themselves.

9.1.2 Removal from office

A member of the Judicial Service Commission appointed pursuant to Article 158 (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (h) or (j) of the Constitution may be removed from office by the President. Members of the Judicial Service Commission appointed by virtue of the office pursuant to Articles 158 (a), (g), or (i) of the Constitution  shall be removed from membership of the Judicial Service Commission upon vacation of the office he holds as provided in Article 165 of the Constitution.

The Judicial Service Commission Act can be found here.

9.2 Prosecutor General Office

The Prosecutor General is appointed under Article 221 of the Constitution by the President with the consent of a majority of the total membership of the People’s Majilis.

As per article 220 (c) of the Constitution, the Prosecutor General is independent and impartial, and he shall not be under the direction or control of any person or authority in carrying out his responsibilities and the exercise of his powers. He shall carry out his responsibilities and exercise his powers without fear, favour or prejudice, subject only to the general policy directives of the Attorney General, and on the basis of fairness, transparency, and accountability.

His duties and responsibilities are set out in Article 223 of Constitution.

More information on Prosecutor General of Maldives can be found here.

9.3 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives

Pursuant to the Article 189 of the Constitution of Maldives, the Human Rights Commission of the country was established. This is an independent and impartial institution to promote respect for human rights in the country. 

More information on Human Rights Commission of Maldives can be found here.

More information on Human Rights Commission of Maldives can be found in the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center.

9.4 Civil Service Commission of the Maldives

Article 179 of the Constitution of Maldives provides that there shall be a Civil Service Commission, which is an independent and impartial institution responsible to recruit, appoint, promote, transfer and dismiss the members of the Civil Service.

More information on the Civil Service Commission of Maldives can be found here.

9.5 Election Commission

The Election Commission of Maldives is set up under Article 167 of the Constitution:

(a)  To conduct, manage ,  supervise and facilitate all elections and public referendum,

(b)  To register political parties and to perform those actions relating to political parties as specified by law.

The responsibilities and powers of the election commission are set out under Article 170 of the Constitution.

More information on the Election Commission of Maldives can be found here.

9.6 Police Integrity Commission

Police Integrity Commission is set up under section 18 of the Maldives Police Act (5/2008) to inquire into and investigation of all allegations in relation to the Police Integrity’s matters.

More information on the Police Integrity Commission of Maldives can be found here.

9.7 Broadcasting Commission

Maldives Broadcasting Commission was set up under the Establishment of Maldives Broadcasting Commission Act (6/2010). This Commission is the regulating body of media in the country.

More information on the Broadcasting Commission of Maldives can be found here.

9.8 Media Council

Maldives Media council set up under Maldives Media Council Act (15/2008).

9.9 Anti-Corruption Commission

The Anti-Corruption Commission was established under Article 199 of the Constitution for the purpose provided under Article 202 of the Constitution and to inquire into and investigate all allegations of the corruption.

Responsibilities and powers of the Commission provide under article 202 0f the Constitution and procedure for appointment of the commission’s members laid down under article 200, 201 of the Constitution.

More information on the Anti-Corruption Commission of Maldives can be found here.

9.10 Auditor General Office

The Auditor General of Maldives is appointed by the President of the country. The appointment procedure can be found in Articles 210, 211 of the Constitution.

His responsibilities and powers are prescribed under Article 212 of the Constitution.

More information on the Auditor General can be found here.

9.11 Maldives Inland Revenue Authority

Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) was set up under Maldives Tax Administration Act (Law No.3/2010) for the purpose of implementing the tax related law and tax policies. The Objectives of MIRA are to:

  1. Enforce the Taxation Acts and implement taxation policies.
  2. Carry out all work in respect of receiving all tax imposed by the State pursuant to the law.
  3. Ascertain whether the amount of tax payable has been calculated in accordance with the law and regulations and that any tax, fees or other monies payable are being paid in full as and when they fall due.
  4. Have regard for the rights of Taxpayers whilst exercising the authority of the MIRA.
  5. Give full and complete information to Taxpayers on the Taxation Acts and regulations, and make efforts to minimize the costs involved for Taxpayers in making tax payments.
  6. Plan a system, whereby the costs of administering tax will be minimized.
  7. Prescribe the content and prepare tax returns, claims, statements, notices and other such forms required under the Taxation Acts and make any amendments, if required.

More information on the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority of Maldives can be found here.

9.12 Capital Market Development Authority

Capital Market Development Authority is established under Maldives Securities Act (law no.2/2006). It has statutory powers to license securities market intermediaries including brokers, dealers, investment advisers, asset managers, custodians, credit rating agencies as well as stock exchanges and central depositories. The regulatory powers are derived under the Maldives Securities Act, 2006 and Maldives Pension Act 2009.

Laws and regulations relating to company and securities matters can be found here.

More information on the Capital Market Development Authority of Maldives can be found here.

9.13 Maldives Monetary Authority

Maldives Monetary Authority, the Central bank was established under the Maldives Monetary Authority Act (law no.6/1981). In accordance with the provisions of the Presidential Decree no 2002/6 dated 16th January 2002, the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) has the sole responsibility for the regulation and supervision of the insurance industry in the Republic of the Maldives.

More information on the Maldives Monetary Authority can be found here.

Insurance Industry Regulation can be found here.

The DRAFT Maldives Financial Consumer Protection Regulation can be found here.

9.14 Maldives Pension Administrative Office

Maldives Pension Administrative Office established under the Maldives Pension Act (8/2009)

More information on the Maldives Pension Administrative Office can be found here.

9.15 Local Government Authority  

Local Government Authority of Maldives is established under section 60 of the Decentralization Act (law no.7/2010) as an oversee body of the local Councils.

More information on the Maldives Local Government Authority can be found here.

9.16 Customs Integrity Commission

Customs Integrity Commission of Maldives was set up under section 24 of the Maldives Customs Act (8/2011).

More information on the Customs Integrity Commission of Maldives can be found here.

10. The Parliament, People’s Majlis

The legislative authority of the Maldives is vested in the People’s Majlis by virtue of Article 70(a) of the Constitution. Article 70(b) of the Constitution provides that the law making powers of the People’s Majilis includes the following authorities;

1.     The amendment of the Constitution, in accordance with the terms provided in the Constitution;

2.     The enactment of legislation with regard to any matter, or the amendment or repeal of nay law, which is not inconsistent with any tenet of Islam;

3.     The supervision of the exercise of executive authority and ensuring the execute authority is accountable for the exercise of its powers, and taking the steps required for ensuring the same;

4.     The approval of the annual budget and any supplementary budget;

5.     The determination of matters relating to Independent Commissions and Independent Offices in accordance with law;

6.     The holding of public referendums on issues of public importance;

7.     The performance of all duties otherwise expressly required by the Constitution and by law.

In addition to this, as per Article 70(c) of the Constitution, the People’s Majlis shall not pass any law that contravenes any tenant of Islam.

Any matter submitted to the People’s Majlis for approval includes the power of the People’s Majilis to accept, reject, revoke or amend the disposition of the matter. (Article 70(d)).

Any appointment or dismissal submitted to the People’s Majlis to accept or reject the appointment or dismissal.

1.1   The term of People’s Majlis is 5 (five) years.

More information about the People’s Majilis can be found here.

10.1 Legislation Process

The government’ bills are submitted through ruling party and private bills are submitted by individual members in the Parliament. The bills relating to taxation only can be submitted by the government. When a bill is a submitted to the parliament it goes for three reading before it becomes a law.

Article 91 of the Constitution provides that every Bill passed by the People’s Majlis shall be presented for assent by the President within seven days from the date of its passing, and the President shall, within fifteen days of receipt, assent to the Bill or return the Bill for reconsideration of the Bill or of any amendment proposed by the President.

Article 91(b) of the Constitution stipulates that any Bill returned to the People’s Majlis for reconsideration shall be assented to by the President and published in the Government Gazette if the Bill, after reconsideration, is passed without any amendments, by a majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis. Article 91(c) of the Constitution states that any bill not returned for reconsideration or amendment or assented to by the President within the specified time shall be deemed to have been assented to by the President and shall be published in the Government Gazette.

10.2 Publication of Laws in the Government Gazette

Article 92 of the Constitution provides that a bill passed by the People’s Majlis shall become law when assented to by the President. Every Bill assented to by the President shall be published in the Government Gazette on the day of assent. Such law shall come into force when it is published in the Government Gazette, or on such later date following publication stipulated in the statute.

10.3 Secondary Legislation

Under Article 94 of the Constitution, the People’s Majilis may, pursuant to law and for prescribed purposes, delegate to any person or body power to make orders, and regulations, or other instruments having legislative effect, including the power to:

(a)  Determine a date on which any law shall come into or cease to have effect;

(b)  Make any law or part thereof applicable to any area or to any class of persons.

11. The Judiciary

The Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, the High Court, and such Trial Courts as established by the law as provided in Article 141 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court is the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives and the Chief Justice is the highest authority on the Supreme Court. (Article 141(b)).

11.1 The Supreme Court

11.1.1 Appointment of Judges

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. In performance of their judicial functions, Judges must apply the Constitution and the law impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice as stated at Article 142 of the Constitution. As per Article 148(c) of the Constitution, the Judges shall be appointed without term, but shall be retire at the age of seventy years.

11.1.2 Appointment of the Chief Justice

Pursuant to Article 147 of the Constitution there shall be a Chief Justice of the Maldives. The President as the Head of State shall appoint the Chief Justice, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and confirmation of the appointee by a majority of the members of the People’ Majilis present and voting.

11.1.3 Appointment of Supreme Court’s Judges

The President as the Head of State shall appoint the Judges of the Supreme Court, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission and confirmation of the appointees by a majority of the members of the People’s Majilis present and voting.

11.2 The High Court, Lower Court

11.2.1 Appointment of High Court, Lower Court’s Judges

High Court and lower Court’s judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission according to Judicature Act (22/2010).

Please read Judicature Act, here.

11.2.2 Qualifications of Judges

General Qualifications of judges are set out in 149 of the Constitution of the Maldives and it reads as follows;

1.     A person appointed as a judge in accordance with law, must possess the educational qualifications, experience and recognized competence necessary to discharge the duties and responsibilities of a judge, and must be of high moral character.

2.     In addition to the qualification specified above, a judge shall possess the following qualification: (a) be a Muslim and a follower of a Sunni school of Islam; (b) be twenty-five years of age; (c) has not been convicted of an offence for which a hadd  is prescribed in Islam, criminal breach of trust, or bribery; (d) be of sound mind.

3.     A person appointed to be a Judge of Supreme Court, shall be at least thirty years of age; possess at least seven years’ experience as a Judge or practicing lawyer or both as a Judge and a practicing lawyer, and must be educated in Islamic Shariah or  law.

11.2.3 Tenure and Removal of Judges

Articles 154 of the Constitution provides that a judge may be removed from office only if the Judicial Service Commission finds that person is grossly incompetent, or that the judge is guilty of gross misconduct, and submits to the People’s Majilis a resolution supporting the removal of the Judge, which is passed by a two-third majority of the members of the People’s Majlis present and voting.

12. The Court System

The Maldives follow a three tier court system: Supreme Court, High Court and lower Courts. Lower Courts are divided into two categories, Superior Courts and Magistrate Courts. The Supreme Court, High Court and Superior Courts are located in the Capital Male’. Magistrate Courts are located in the rest of inhabited Islands other than the Capital Island. In each inhabited island there is one Magistrate Court.

Every court has jurisdiction to overturn the decision of a lower court. (Article 143(c)).

Lower courts shall follow the decisions of a higher court. (Article 143(d)).

12.1 Supreme Court of the Maldives

The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and an uneven number of Judges as provided by Article 145(a) of the Constitution. As set out in section 5 of Judicature Act (Law No.22/2010) total numbers of judges in the Supreme Court is 7(seven) including the Chief Justice.

12.1.1 Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

Pursuant to Article 15(c) of the Constitution, the Supreme Court is the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.

By virtue of section 9 of the Judicature Act (Law No. 22/2010), the Supreme Court shall have the following powers;

12.1.2 Original Jurisdiction

The matters which are to be decided only by the Supreme Court are listed under section 10 of the Judicature Act. These are as follows;

(a)  Matters submitted under Article 74 of the Constitution requesting for a Supreme Court ruling to settle a controversy regarding the qualifications or removal or vacancy of seats of a member of the People’s Majlis;

(b)  Matters submitted under Article 113 of the Constitution to determine all disputes concerning the qualification or disqualification of a presidential candidate or running mate, the election of a President or the removal of the President by the People’s Majlis;

(c)   Matters submitted under Article 258 of the Constitution to determine issues with regard to the validity in whole or part of the declaration of the state of emergency, or any law or decree made pursuant to the declaration.

12.1.3 Inherent Jurisdiction

Under section 11 of the Judicature Act (Law No.22/2010), the Supreme Court has the inherent jurisdiction to adjudicate on constitutional issues with the following characteristics -

(a)   An issue with legal reasons which May send the country into a constitutional void or remove it from the constitutional framework; or

(b)   A dispute between two powers or institutions of the State regarding the interpretation of the Constitution; or

(c)    A constitutional issue concerning Public interest of the nation.

12.1.4 Appellate Jurisdiction  

Section 12 of the Judicature Act (Law No.22/2010) provides that appellate jurisdiction is that jurisdiction of the Supreme Court which empowers it to enquire into any decision or order or ruling of the High Court, on matters submitted by the party to the case contesting the decision on grounds of breaching the Constitution, a law or a regulation made pursuant to a statute.

12.1.5 Direction under Article 95 of the Constitution

The Supreme Court holds the jurisdiction to advice on matters referred to it pertaining to a resolution passed by the People’s Majlis under Article 95 of the Constitution concerning important questions or clarifications regarding the law.

More information on direction under Article 95 of the Constitution can be found here.

12.2 High Court of the Maldives

High Court of the Maldives is set up under Article 146(a) of the Constitution. As per section 27 of the Judicature Act (Law N0.22/2010), the court is constituted by total 9 (nine) Judges including the Chief Judge. The Chief Judge is the head of the High Court who is appointed by the Judicial Service Commission under section 29 of the Judicature Act.

12.2.1 Jurisdiction of the High Court

As per section 36 of the Judicature Act, the High Court has the High Court has the following powers-

(a)  If the Constitution or a Law states that the High Court shall be the first instance court in relation to certain types of cases.

(b)  Cases stated in Article 37 of the Judiciature Act. The  High Court has original jurisdiction in these cases.

(c)   Appeal from the decisions of the lower courts.

(d)  Appeal from the decisions of the tribunal.

More information on the jurisdiction of the High Court can be found here.

12.1.2 Supervisory Jurisdiction

Under Circular No.2010/01/SC of the Supreme Court of the Maldives, a Higher Court i.e. the High Court and the Supreme Court of the Maldives is empowered to issue a Supervisory Jurisdiction Order.

These Writs includes; (a) Certiorari, (b) Habeas Corpus, (c) Mandamus, and (c) Prohibition.

12.3 Superior Courts

Superior Courts are created as per section 53 of the Judicature Act (Law No.22/2010). These courts are located in the capital city Male’. Currently there are (a) Criminal Court (b) Civil Court (c) Family Court (d) Juvenile Court and Drug Court.

For more information, please visit.

12.4 Magistrate Courts

Under section 63 of the Judicature Act there shall be a magistrate court in each inhabited island except in the Capital City Male’ where Superior Court exists.

13. Quasi-Judicial Bodies/Tribunals 

There are many tribunals or quasi-judicial bodies in the Maldives. Some of these are listed below-

13.1 The Employment Tribunal

The Employment Tribunal, created under Employment Act, has the mandate to look into Employment disputes. The objectives of the Employment Tribunal is to examine and adjudicate legal matters arising in the work environment between the employer and employee and any matters ascribed to the Employment Tribunal pursuant to the Employment Act or any other Act or regulation or under any agreement, in an expeditious and simple manner. Against the decisions of the tribunal, appeal can be preferred to the High Court as provided above.

The Regulations of the Employment Tribunal can be found here.

Details about the Employment Tribunal can be found here.

13.2 Tax Appeal Tribunal

The Tax Appeal Tribunal is created under section 39 Tax Administration Act (law no.3/2010) to consider tax related matters. The Tribunal has the power to review and deliberate, as it deems appropriate on matters determined by the Tax Administration Act or any other law to be adjudicated by the Tribunal. The Tribunal has the power to summon persons, elicit witness statements, obtain proof and evidence or do anything necessary to verify and elicit the truth of a matter submitted to it. Against the decisions of the tribunal, appeal can be preferred to the High Court as provided above.

The Regulations of the Tax Appeal Tribunal of the Maldives can be found here.

14. Criminal Laws

The Maldives’ Criminal System is based on several pieces of legislations and regulations. At the Attorney General Office websites enumerated several legislation in area of Criminal and Judicial Proceedings. These include, Maldives Penal Code (MPC), Police Act and other Procedural regulation made by the courts. There are specials laws those deals with for juvenile’s offenders, Anti-Social behavior, Gang Violence, Domestic Violence and Drug related offences, etc.

The texts of these laws can be found here.

In terms of prosecution, the Criminal Offences in Maldives are divided into two parts, namely; an offence prescribed under the Penal Code and an offence relating to the Islamic law (known as Hudood offence).

The Police investigates the offences and the Prosecutor General defends the state. The execution   and enforcement of punishment vested to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

More information on Maldives Criminal Justice System can be found here.

More information on gender issues in the Criminal Justice System of the Maldives can be found here.

The Report on Strengthening Custodial Services in the Maldives can be found here.

The Criminal Justice Action Plan of the Country can be found here.

The Report on the proposal for reform of criminal justice system of the Republic of Maldives can be found here.

Final Report of the Maldivian Penal Law & Sentencing Codification Project: Text of Draft Code (Volume 1) and Official Commentary (Volume 2) can be found here.

Execution of Death Penalty

Although there are provisions in Penal Code regarding capital punishment as a penalty, in practice such verdict are not executed in the Maldives, rather such verdicts convert to life imprisonment for 25 (twenty five) years by the Head of State.

Human Rights Offences are investigates by Human Rights Commission, which is an independent body set up as per the law. Maldives is signatory country number of international human rights treaties. Detailed information about these human rights treaties in the context of the country can be found here.

15. Family Laws

The Maldives Family Act (2000) is based on Muslim Personal law. Women have right to seek divorce, maintenance and Polygamy is permissible within the restrictive provisions of law. However, the inheritance issues are regulated by separate piece of legislation.

The Law on the Protection of the Rights of Children can be found here.

The Court procedures in cases of divorce, custody and child support can be found here.

16. Islamic Law

Under Article 10 (a) of the Constitution of Maldives, Islam Shall be one of the bases of all the laws of the Maldives. Similarly, Article 10(b) provides no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.

The elements of Islamic laws can be seen in areas of Family, Evidence and Criminal laws, particularly in Hudood offence. Family law is codified. However, Hudood and others laws in nature of Islamic are still not codified. Some of them were based on brief regulation made by the relevant courts.

17. Civil laws

Civil laws by nature do not include criminal, family and Islamic laws which are specified herein above. Large numbers of laws are listed in the website of the Attorney General Office. The list includes laws relating to Administrative, Obligations, Commercial, Financial and Property.

Asian Center for Human Rights Report on Judiciary of Maldives can be found here.

18. Legal Profession

In Maldives, the legal Practice License is offered by the Attorney General upon completion of certain criteria. A prospective candidate who wishes to get admission to the Legal Profession may submit an application to the Attorney General of Maldives. The basic criteria to such application is to have a law degree from recognized institution by the government of the Maldives and two reference from practicing lawyers in the Maldives. The Attorney General issue legal Practice Permit as per Regulation on Issuance of Legal Practice Permits.

19. Law firms

Following are some of the leading law firms in the Maldives-

Premier Chambers, Barristers and Attorneys

Tel: 00960 3314377, 00960 3328116, Fax: 00960 3314378

Email:shaaheen@premier-chambers.com

Shah Hussein and Co

Website http://www.shclawyers.com/

Suood Anwar Co

Website http://www.suoodanwar.com/

Mazlaan and Murad Law Associates

Website http://mmlawassociates.com/

20. Legal Education and research

Currently there are two institutions that provide legal education in Maldives.  

Maldives National University offers LLB (Hons), LLM and PhD Courses.

College of Islamic Studies offers LLB (Hons) in Shariah and law.

Maldives Law Institute is a non-governmental institute which offers course on legal research on Maldives issues.

Law Review Journal is by published by Maldives Law Institute.

21. Database of Laws of Maldives

There is as such no complete database of laws of Maldives. Moreover, most of the laws available online are in Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives. The website of the Office of the Attorney General contains the English version of many of the excising laws, which cannot be found easily. A better option is to search the law by using the internet search engine in relation to the Office of the Attorney General.

Some of the online sources of Maldivian laws are listed below-

Immigration Laws of Maldives

Trade Related Laws of Maldives [Mostly in Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives with some exceptions where the English translation of the law can be found]

Banking and Finance Laws of Maldives [Laws are listed in English and Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives]

Environmental Laws of Maldives [Mostly in Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives with some exceptions where the English translation of the law can be found]

Tax Related Laws of Maldives [Mostly in Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives with some exceptions where the English translation of the law can be found]

Mass Media Related Laws of Maldives [Mostly in Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives with some exceptions where the English translation of the law can be found]

Pension Related Laws of Maldives [Mostly in Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives with some exceptions where the English translation of the law can be found]

Energy Laws of Maldives [In Dhivehi, the National Language of Maldives]

Intellectual Property Law of Maldives [Official site in the World Intellectual Property Organisation]

22. Invest Maldives

Invest Maldives is the government agency entrusted with promoting, regulating and licensing foreign investments in the country.

More information on investment related issues in Maldives can be found here.

A Guide to investment in Maldives can be found here.

23. Maldives and International Treaty Obligations

The country is a state party to many international treaties. Detailed information about these treaties in the context of the country can be found here.

Some Useful links:

Maldives Press Center

Maldives Police Service

Department of National Planning

Customs Service in Maldives

Maldives Government Development Programme

Maldives Chapter in Commonwealth

Maldives Chapter in SAARC

UNDP Maldives

Asia Foundation Maldives

Transparency Maldives [National Chapter of Transparency International]

Right to Education

United States Department of State page on Maldives

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Guide on Maldives

Maldives and the WTO

WIPO Report on Intellectual Property Law of Maldives

Bilateral Relation

Membership in International Organization

Governance in Maldives [World Bank page]

Visit Maldives