Supreme Court: Expecting speedy trials sans resources is like ‘drawing a line on water’

Supreme Court Justice Husnu Al-Suood (C) delivers his ruling on March 21, 2024.

The Supreme Court says its illogical to expect for courts to speed up trials without providing the necessary staff and infrastructure the judiciary lacks, likening it to trying to “draw a line on seawater with a finger.”

The court made the remark while delivering its ruling in the appeal of a decision to release Irufan Thaqiyyu of S. Hulhudhoo, a suspected drug trafficker who was arrested with his alleged co-conspirators on December 7, 2020, and was subsequently jailed pending the outcome of his trial.

Irufan filed a motion for a review of his detention, following which the Criminal Court granted his release on October 3, 2023. The state appealed the decision with the High Court, which backed the lower court’s decision on December 20, 2023.

The state subsequently filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

On Thursday morning, the three-member bench that heard the appeal ordered for Irufan to be taken back into police custody. It also instructed the Criminal Court to determine whether there’s sufficient grounds to have him jailed pending the outcome of his trial.

Justice Husnu Al-Suood, who chaired the bench, commented that given the current state of the Maldivian criminal justice system, the only way to resolve the issue of the large number of suspects in jail is to expedite trials.

He stressed that it however requires additional resources, including staff and buildings.

“The way to expedite the trial process is for relevant state authorities to provide the judiciary with sufficient buildings and staff as soon as possible,” said Suood, while delivering his verdict.

He said that it is illogical to expect for trials to get expedited without providing the necessary resources.

“Expecting for trials to get expedited or to reduce the number of suspects in jail without state institutions providing the resources to the judiciary first is like drawing a line on seawater with a finger, or trying to touch the moon from earth,” he said.

Ending indefinite detentions was one of President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s electoral pledges, and one which he said his administration is working on. He said he will address the space constraints at courts, and also push legal reforms.