The High Court has determined that detainees awaiting trial in appeal cases cannot have their remand status reviewed. This verdict was delivered in the context of Ali Nifaz’s appeal case, concerning the murder of Nadeem Abdul Raheem in July 2017 at Terminal Cafe’. Nifaz, initially acquitted, was later detained upon the instigation of an appeal.

The court’s decision stemmed from the application of Article 199(b) of the Penal Code, diverging from the prosecution’s request for a custody review under Article 60(i), which mandates a 30-day review period for detainees. 

The ruling clarified that detainees held under Article 199, at the appeal stage, are eligible for bail application rather than a detention review.

This judgement arrives amidst the Prosecutor General’s Office’s (PGO) advocacy for legal reforms to address the challenges of indefinite detention and trial delays. The PGO’s efforts align with President Dr Mohamed Muizzu’s recent commitment to law reform, aimed at enhancing judicial efficiency and safeguarding civil rights.

Specifically, the president’s initiative to establish the Office for Civil Rights and abolish the practice of “Vaanuvaa” reflects a broader governmental strategy to reform the prison system and reduce crime rates.

Observers note that the High Court’s ruling underscores the complexities of ongoing challenges in balancing legal procedures with the need for timely and fair justice, amidst broader efforts to improve the Maldives’ judicial system and protect civil liberties.