The High Court has decided to allow the live broadcast of Dhiyares' appeal of its request for information from the Ministry of Defence that had been denied by the Information Commission (ICOM). Dhiyares, the sister-newspaper of The Maldives Journal, had submitted an information request at the Ministry of Defence for the number of Indian military personnel stationed in the Maldives, as well as the financial cost borne by the State as a result of their presence. On the Ministry's refusal to disclose this information, the request had been appealed at ICOM which sided with the Ministry and mirrored their statement that the disclosure of such information posed a threat to national security. Dhiyares had appealed the case to the High Court, and its first hearing was held on Thursday morning.
The case had first been accepted by the High Court on 8 December 2020, and the first hearing had been scheduled for 22 March 2021. However, following the resignation of the Information Commissioner at the time, the case could not be scheduled for an date earlier than yesterday.
Judges Abdullah Hameed, Hussain Shaheed, and Hassan Shafeeu comprise the judicial bench that oversees the case; the panel is lead by Judge Shafeeu.
Prior to speaking on the contents of the case, the judicial panel had asked ICOM's legal representation about their response to the appellant Dhiyares' Chief Editor Ahmed Azaan's request to broadcast the proceedings of the case live. ICOM had stated that they had no objections to the proposition; the judges' panel thus ruled that the next hearing would be broadcast live.
Although several Indian military personnel are present in various parts of the Maldives at this point in time, the government has not disclosed their number. The presence of Indian troops is a cause of great concern for many. Opposition leader, former President Abdullah Yameen is currently leading a country-wide campaign under the slogan of "India Out".