Procedures followed in collecting witness statements problematic: JSC

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has stated that the court proceedings of active cases are delayed due to the policies followed in collecting witness statements.

A letter addressed to the Speaker of the Parliament by JSC President and Thulhaadhoo MP Hisaan Hussain said the judicial watchdog has conducted studies to identify if the delay in concluding court cases affects the disciplinary conduct of judges. The Speaker of the Parliament is also a member of JSC. Nasheed had been present in the discussions carried out by the commission regarding the issue.

According to the letter sent by JSC, it was identified that policies followed by courts in summoning witnesses and taking their statement were the main reason for delays in court proceedings. In this regard, it was identified that different courts followed different procedures in summoning witnesses and taking their statements during the initial stages of the case. Different judges from the same court have at times opted for different procedures, said JSC.

"In some cases, the court sends the summon to the witness and in other cases, the summons are not sent by the court assuming that it is the responsibility of the party presenting the witness," said the letter.

According to the Criminal Justice System, any person presented to the court as witnesses must give their witness statements without fail. However, when a witness changes their mind regarding giving witness statements after presenting themselves to the court, some courts have accepted their refusal, said the letter.

"Most cases tried under the criminal justice system is built on the witness statements. The commission believes the aforementioned issue must be addressed within the legal system, and thus bring it to the attention of the parliament," the letter further said,

JSC stressed that the recording of witness statements is pivotal in the criminal justice system, and trials are conducted and charges are proven or disproven based on witness statements. Therefore, JSC requests the parliament to seek a legal solution to the issue, JSC said. The issue has also been brought to the attention of the Supreme Court, said JSC.