President of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Thulhaadhoo MP Hisaan Hussain has lamented the Criminal Court’s capacity and said it would take sixteen years to clear the Criminal Court’s backlog at the current capacity.
Hisaan along with judges, JSC and DJA were summoned to Parliament’s Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where they were questioned regarding the delays in looking into criminal cases.
Speaking on the matter, Hisaan responded that when 2019 started, 2022 cases were pending at the Criminal Court. Moreover, she also said that approximately 900 new cases are submitted to the court every year. Therefore, she pointed out that the court is currently processing both backlog and new cases.
She added that during the 2020 lockdown court focused on the most urgent cases and on issuing court orders. Further the court employees also became COVID positive, and the jails were under lockdown by the time court officials recovered.
According to Hisaan,1128 cases are in the backlog and said the it is not feasible to wait for the cases to be cleared in sixteen years. The immediate plan is to work on the cases in blocks. She said that discussions are ongoing to hold additional hearings outside of official working hours, from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm. She claimed that over ninety percent of the backlog could be cleared within a year if the plan was implemented properly.
Hisaan further highlighted the need for recruiting staff to carry out the proposed plan. Remuneration will include allowance in addition to overtime, which would cost an extra MVR 3.3 million per year.
The second option is to hire more judges. However, this option would cost MVR 5.2 million per year and judges cannot be terminated from their positions after the one-year period ends.
Hisaan pleaded that cooperation from the Prosecutor General’s Office, Maldives Police Service, and Correctional Service is necessary to implement the plan and make it successful.