High Court on Monday annulled the clause giving the president power to grant clemency to convicts on death row.
The case seeking to annul the clause in the Clemency Act, which gives the president the power to turn death sentences into life imprisonment, was filed privately by a group of individuals.
The High Court ended hearings on the case on Thursday.
State is against the case arguing that the clause was in direct contradiction to Islamic law.
The state argued that the authority given to the president by the clause cannot be used in Qisas (the right of a murder victim's nearest relative or Wali [legal guardian] to, if the court approves, take the life of the killer) cases.
The case heard by the 5-judge bench of the appellate court was filed in 2012.
The court ruled that the president cannot grant clemency to convicts on death row in Qisas cases but would be able to exercise the power on other cases involving a death sentence.
Maldives has recently adopted a series of new rules and regulations and is currently drafting a law on death penalty.
The Supreme Court issued new guidelines on Sunday allowing death sentences and public lashing rulings issued by lower courts to be appealed automatically at the High Court.
In a circular, the Supreme Court said if the defendant fails to appeal death sentences and public lashing verdicts within 10 days, the court that had initially issued the verdict should forward the relevant documents to the High Court. The appellate court would have seven days to notify both the defendant and the prosecution of the appeal and during that period should take the necessary steps to begin appeal proceedings, it added.
The new rules follow similar guidelines issued by the apex court early this month.
The Supreme Court issued new guidelines on November 8 giving a month-long window for the last chance to appeal death sentences and public lashings backed by High Court.
According to the guidelines, if a defendant fails to appeal a High Court verdict in favour of death sentences and public lashing rulings within a 30-day period, the appeal can then only be filed at the Supreme Court by the prosecution.
The guidelines, included in a circular signed by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, did not specifically mention sentences of death and public lashing. However, it says that High Court rulings that need to be reconfirmed by the Supreme Court had to be appealed within 30 days, including public holidays.
Under local laws, the only sentences that need to be reconfirmed by the Supreme Court are death sentences and public lashing verdicts.
Judicature Act earlier granted a 90-day period, excluding public holidays, to appeal rulings by any court.
However, the Supreme Court had in January annulled that clause and issued new guidelines under which rulings issued by lower courts had to be appealed at the High Court within 10 days and appeal over High Court verdicts needed to be filed at the Supreme Court within 60 days.
Meanwhile, the government has included funds in the proposed state budget for next year to establish an execution chamber at the country's main prison to carry out the death penalty.
The state budget for next year, which was approved by the parliament on Monday, includes MVR4 million to build an execution chamber. However, the correctional service was not immediately available for comment.
Maldives adopted a new regulation last year under which lethal injection would be used to implement the death penalty.
However, over mounting pressure from human rights bodies, companies have been refusing to supply the fatal dose to countries still carrying out capital punishment.
Home minister Umar Naseer had earlier said the correctional service would be ready to implement the death penalty by the time a death sentence is upheld by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the government announced on November 16 that it was in the process of drafting legislation on implementing death penalty.
Attorney General Mohamed Anil told reporters that the bill being drafted by his office would expand on the already existing regulations on death penalty. The bill would include procedures on conducting murder investigations, filing charges in such cases and conducting proceedings in murder cases, he added.
There are around 10 people on death row at present, but none of whom has exhausted the appeal process thus far.
Source: haveeru.com, November 30, 2015