MALE, MALDIVES - The Maldivian criminal court has recently released three Indian sisters, Virupal Kaur (20), Suhvindhar Kaur (22), and Juspretty Kaur (24), who were arrested on suspicion of theft on July 13. The case raises intriguing questions about the increasing influence of India over Maldivian legal decisions, as well as implications for the Maldivian economy, as more Indian nationals find employment on the islands.
In a remand hearing conducted a day after the arrest, the sisters were released, the court noting the return of the stolen items and the validation of their work visas. The specifics surrounding the crime, such as the nature of the stolen goods and the sisters' employment details, remain unclear.
The sisters' case follows a similar decision last week when an Indian man arrested on drug charges was also released. The court justified his freedom with the argument that his employment reduces the likelihood of his engaging in criminal activity to fund drug use.
These decisions come amidst rising concerns over President Solih's administration's approach towards crime involving Indian nationals. Critics argue that Indians are acting with increasing impunity, with many permitted to return home without facing local justice.
The Maldivian President's relationship with India has become a focal point in this debate. Critics of Solih argue that India's strong influence over the president's policies could be leading to leniency towards Indian nationals involved in criminal activities.
Analysts point out that the judiciary's consideration of employment status in recent criminal cases marks a shift in the administration of justice in the Maldives, potentially setting a controversial precedent. Some fear that these judgments could encourage criminal behavior among foreign workers, given the perceived leniency.