DJA’s efforts to find new building for Criminal Court fails

Criminal Court. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) states it has failed in its efforts to find a new building to temporarily relocate the Criminal Court – after consultants advised the current building was unsafe.

DJA had contracted Gedor Consulting Pvt. Ltd. to assess the structural integrity of the Criminal Court building. The company presented its findings on June 17 last year, concluding that the building wasn’t safe.

In a statement on Monday, DJA said it had attempted to find a building to temporarily relocate the Criminal Court. DJA said it sent a request to Finance Ministry to find a new building on July 11 last year, and received the go-ahead from the ministry on August 1 last year.

DJA said that though the Planning Ministry agreed the Criminal Court building was unsafe, it said it couldn’t find an alternate building with enough space to relocate the court.

DJA said it also asked the Tender Board to open tender to lease a building to house the court.

“But this department was informed on March 2, 2022 that no building was found through tender,” said the DJA.

DJA said it therefore engaged in discussions with Housing Development Corporation (HDC), which, during the last meeting, committed to leasing a 6,275.25 square feet plot at the rate of MVR 5 per square feet for five years.

DJA said HDC stipulated that the four-story building permitted for the plot must be financed through DJA’s budget.

DJA said it was suffering budged constraints and could not finance the construction of the building.

The four-story building that houses Criminal Court has cracks on the walls, and are prone to flooding during rainy weather. Several hearings have been cancelled due to the issue.

The hearing in the money laundering case against former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom scheduled for Monday was also cancelled because it was raining inside the courtrooms.

Criminal Court was originally located at the Justice Building, before it was moved to the building next to Theemuge due to space constraints during Yameen’s administration.