Monday 5th Dec 2022
Dhivehi Edition
News Reports Sports Business
high court

Court orders to hold revealing names of police officers involved in removing India Out banners

The High Court granted an interim order to the Maldives Police Service, as requested, to hold revealing the name of officers involved in the removal of India Out banners hung outside private residences.
Following an official complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office, ICOM ordered MPS to disclose the names and service numbers of the officers involved in physically removing the India Out banners. Following which MPS appealed ICOM’s order at the High Court .
The High Court’s ruling stated that halting execution of the ICOM order was necessary because the court found the information to be sensitive and that it had the potential to affect state affairs. Court ruled to hold off until court ordered otherwise or the MPS case was concluded.
India Out is a movement spearheaded by the opposition coalition, PPM and PNC and the banners in question were hung by these parties.
The Information Commissioner’s Office’s directive came following an investigation into a complaint submitted by Dhiyares News after being denied the information by the Police.
The High Court has yet to make a decision regarding the registration of the appeal
Information requested by Dhiyares
1. Actions taken in precedence of the presidential decree issued in relation to the “INDIA-OUT” movement
2. The copy of any direct orders received from the President’s Office, if any, with the exception of the Presidential Decree
3. Four permits were issued and granted by the court to enter four houses in the Male’ City to remove “INDIA-OUT” banners on 21st April. The name of the commanding officer who requested for the permits and the copy of the written order, if any.
4. Names and service numbers of all the officers involved in said operation
5. The roles and contributions of each and every officer involved in the operation and body-cam footages, if any
6. The name and rank of the senior officer who led the operation
Dhiyares was only offered the information requested in the first two points.
Dhiyares was only offered the information requested in the first two points.
Speaking in reference to the subject, Information Commissioner, Aahid Rasheed said that although the “Right to Information Act” ensures the public’s right of knowing the roles and names of individual officers that contributed to the operation, Maldives Police is exempt from disclosing the details of the commanding officer leading the operation.
Additionally, Rasheed stated that Maldives Police must specify whether they have any body-cam footage from the operation. However, since this is an ongoing investigation, they are exempt from publication as well.
The Information Commissioner has advised and urged the Police Force to provide all the information requested except for the details made exempt by the Access to Information Act.
While MPS had requested for an interim order to hold the ICOM order, this was the first time a public service organization had made such a request. When ICOM ordered the Ministry of Defense to disclose the contents of the Uthuru Thila Falhu agreement, they had conveniently avoided acting on it, rather than getting an interim order.