Supreme Court Restricts Powers of the Anti-Corruption Commission

September 16, 2013

The Supreme Court on 16 September 2013 decided that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) does not have authority to require termination of any commercial contract despite allegations of corruption therein and that “charges of corruption, in accordance with the general principles of criminal law [as applicable in the Maldives], is of personal liability that falls on the individual committing the crime”. 

In January 2011, the ACC had issued a Directive upon the Department of Immigration and Emigration requiring them to terminate their Concession Agreement with Nexbis Ltd., Australia, signed for purposes of the Maldives Immigration Border Control System (MIBCS). This was because of the alleged corruption surrounding the award of the project to the bidder. The matter was challenged through three tiers of Courts and lastly, the Supreme Court Bench had decided that apart from investigation and reference for prosecution, the ACC in administrative law matters as far as their authority is concerned, can only issue recommendations towards rectification and they cannot terminate Contracts made by the State.

“Duties of the ACC as set out in Section 21 are precautionary measures, which are recommendatory in nature, such as conducting studies to prevent repeats of instances of corruption and making recommendations on administrative measures that are needed to be implemented.”

The Supreme Court endorsed the decision made by the Civil Court in 2011 and overturned the High Court Judgment issued in the matter earlier this year which had created the upset when they overturned the trial Court decision and deemed the ACC to powers to halt Government contracts. 

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