High Court: PG lawyers made liable for absence fines

High Court: PG lawyers made liable for absence fines

The High Court, on Tuesday, decided to make lawyers employed at the Prosecutor General's Office liable for fees imposed for court absences concerning criminal cases.

As per the appellate court, the government would not cover the fees incurred by PG lawyers that are absent without presenting appropriate reasons. Further, the ruling added that state coverage of such fees would encourage such behaviour.

The High Court's ruling asserted that if the state or relevant institution covered the cost of a fine imposed on individuals being paid government salaries and allowances for the negligence of legally stipulated duties, the final burden would be carried by ordinary citizens.

In the event that a lawyer was not assigned to the case, the fine must be borne by the Prosecutor General's Office.

The decision was finalised after a state proposed case was thrown out of Ghaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo Court when the prosecutor failed to attend a hearing. The PG Office appealed the matter at High Court's southern branch which ruled against the Thinadhoo court and ordered a retrial.

Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya, Judge Mohamed Niyaz and Judge Ali Sameer presided over the case.

The ruling asserted that the Criminal Procedure Code did not include any provisions which allowed a case to be rejected if a lawyer was absent without a proper reason. The High Court ruling added that criminal cases concerned both individual and communal rights, reasoning that rejecting such cases due to the unexplained absence of a lawyer potentially compromised the community's interest.

As per the regulations, a fee of MVR 250 could be imposed in such circumstances.