Police deployed in Male. (Atoll Times Photo/Abdulla Yashau)

Amendment allows 3-month detention without charges

With the ratification, a maximum of three months can be allocated to the police to investigate major cases.

24 November 2022

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Thursday ratified an amendment to allow the police to extend the remand period for investigating serious criminal cases by three months.

According to existing laws, the police will get to keep a suspect for a maximum of 75 days in major criminal cases, except terrorism cases. Earlier amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act provided for a maximum of 90 days to investigate those arrested under it.

A bill submitted by Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifau to amend the Criminal Procedure Code on behalf of the government was passed by the Judiciary Committee late last month with some changes. As per the committee's decision, the bill was passed by the parliament on 7 November.

With the ratification, the amendment is now in force.

Prior the amendment, the Criminal Procedure Code stipulated:

  • If a person is arrested in a case and produced before a judge for remand, he or she should be remanded to judicial custody within 30 days from that date and sent to the PG office.

  • Only 45 days are available to complete the investigation of a person released from custody and file a chargesheet.

  • Since the alleged offence is a cognizable offence and the nature of the case does not complete the investigation within 30 days, the PGs have the power to extend the period of investigation by a maximum of 45 days.

The government sent the bill to parliament to extend the 45 days currently authorised by the PG to 60 days if the police wanted to prolong the investigation in such serious criminal cases. The parliament while approving the amendment added a condition: 

  • The PG may extend the period of investigation so that it does not exceed 15 days at a time

With the ratification, a maximum of three months can be allocated to the police to investigate major cases. With this, a person can be detained for up to three months without being levied charges.

Major criminal cases include:

  • Murder

  • rape

  • Child sexual abuse  

  • Money laundering  

  • Smuggling of drugs  

  • Dangerous violence 

  • Offences involving cash amounts ranging from MVR 100,000 to above

  • Every offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years

PG seeks order to impound passport

The next major change in the amendment was to change the expressions for impounding passports in an alleged case to "ban the departure" and make them more elaborate. The amendment also states that in cases where a chargesheet is sent to the PG office, such an order shall be sought by the PG office.

As of now, it is the police who have to approach the court for an order to impound the passport. If the PG office wants to do it, it has to be done through the police.

Some other aspects of the amendment includes:  

  • Extension of time to file a complaint in the court to 15 days after a complaint is sent to the PG office; as per the law, the case has to be submitted to the court within 10 days of a complaint being sent to the PG.

  • In a major criminal case, if there is a possibility of the witness being threatened by the testimony given by the witness, he may approach the court seeking a restraining order or police protection.

  • The witness also has the right to request the state to approach the court for such an order.

  • Some cases in the High Court can be dealt with by even a single judge.