The Supreme Court has significantly reformed the legal framework governing the review of custody remands during trial proceedings, following its unanimous decision to rescind bail for Irfan Thaqiyyu, a key suspect in a major drug trafficking case in the Maldives. 

This landmark ruling not only mandates Thaqiyyu’s return to police custody but also sets a precedent for a more stringent examination of the necessity for continued detention, explicitly limiting reliance on initial case evidence in such reviews.

By overhauling existing procedures, the Supreme Court aims to ensure that decisions on remand are meticulously scrutinised, thereby preventing the potential disruption of the trial process through premature judgments about the evidence. The adjustment highlights the court’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of legal proceedings while safeguarding public safety.

The directive emanating from the apex court stipulates that during remand reviews, judges should focus solely on whether changes have occurred in the circumstances originally justifying custody, without being influenced by the unfolding of the main trial. This approach is designed to avoid undermining the trial’s integrity and ensures that custody decisions are based on current, not past, assessments of risk.

This decision followed the revocation of bail for Thaqiyyu, involved in smuggling 72 kg of drugs into the country, who had previously been released under lower court orders. The top court’s ruling directly challenges previous decisions by the Criminal Court and the High Court, emphasising the judiciary’s role in re-evaluating custody to prevent any compromise to societal safety and legal processes.

At the hearing, the Supreme Court also highlighted the practical challenges facing the judiciary, specifically the unrealistic expectations to expedite trials without adequate resources. 

Justice Husnu Al-Suood, in delivering the verdict, stressed the necessity of providing the judiciary with sufficient infrastructure and personnel to address the backlog of cases effectively. He likened the expectation of speeding up trials without these resources to “drawing a line on seawater with a finger,” illustrating the futility of such demands without tangible support from state institutions.