Top court judge Areef retires, Dr. Azmiralda appointed as interim chief

Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Areef has announced his retirement.

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) said the Judge was retiring to focus on his health.

The administration of the Supreme Court was temporarily being overseen by Judge Areef following the suspension and dismissal of Chief Justice Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi. JSC on Wednesday appointed Judge Dr. Azmiralda Zahir as an interm head of the court in Areef's place.

The policy followed by the courts in handing over administration in the event that the Chief Judge cannot perform his duties is to hand over administration to the most senior judge of the court. Recently appointed to the Supreme Court, Dr. Azmiralda is the most senior judge of the court at the time, following the dismissal of Chief Justice Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Judge Adam Mohamed earlier this week, and the suspension of Judge Abdul Ghanee Mohamed during Wednesday's JSC sitting.

Judge Areef's retirement comes amid investigation by JSC into several cases involving him. While Judge Areef recently stepped down from JSC presidency, the judicial watchdog is looking into several instances where the Supreme Court transgressed its jurisdiction, in which Judge Areef is involved in some of the cases. While Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Judge Adam Mohamed were recently dismissed over said issues, both judges had refused to cooperate with the investigation. However, Judge Areef and Judge Abdul Ghanee Mohamed, who is also being probed, has been cooperating with the commission. Judge Abdul Ghanee Mohamed was suspended for a period of sixty days during JSC's sitting Wednesday, and his dismissal is now being pursued through the parliament.

Four Supreme Court justices have been dismissed since the current government began administration in November 2018. While only three judges remain on the seven member bench, they are Judge Azmiralda, Judge Aisha Sujun and Judge Mahaz Ali.