Hassan Shiyam contesting from Central Henveiru constituency for parliamentary elections. Photo/ Social Media

Top court disqualifies parliament candidate over decreed debt

11 people, including Hassan Shiyam, have guaranteed the repayment of two large SBI loans, which remain unpaid.

28 March 2024

By Fathmath Ahmed Shareef

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the candidacy of Hassan Shiyam, who is contesting as an independent candidate for the Henveiru Central constituency in the upcoming 20th Parliamentary elections, should be invalidated.

Incumbent Ali Azim's brother Ilyas Ahmed filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the validity of Hassan Shiyam's candidacy.

In the case filed against Hassan Shiyam and the EC, Ilyas said the EC accepted Shiyam's candidacy when he did not meet the requirements of a candidate as he had decreed debts and was not paying money in accordance with the judgement he was handed by a court of law.

The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, which heard the case, dismissed Hassan’s candidacy by a unanimous vote.

“It appears that Hassan Shiyam is ineligible to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections as he has a decreed debt and is not paying it,” the presiding judge said.

Justice Mohammed Ibrahim's opinion said:

  • The Constitution states that a person who has a proven debt and has not paid the debt in accordance with the verdict handed down cannot run for the post of Member of Parliament

  • Although the High Court judgement ruled that Hassan Shiyam should not be considered as a debtor, the judgement also shows that he has proven debt and is not paying the money in accordance with the judgement

  • It is not known whether the debt has been forgiven

  • Therefore, I do not think that the Election Commission can decide to accept Hassan Shiyam's candidacy based solely on the High Court's decision not to consider him as a debtor

  • These factors do not consider Hassan Shiyam to meet the requirements to contest the Parliamentary elections

This verdict was supported by Justices Aishath Shujoon Mohammed and Husnu Al Suood.

Proven debt as a requirement for MPs serve a noble purpose

Ilyas filed the case against the EC under Article 73(c) of the Constitution. According to the article, a person who has a proven debt to be paid and is not paying it in accordance with the judgement shall not be eligible to participate in the parliamentary elections

Responding to the case, EC counsel Mahfooz Saeed had earlier told the court that the Parliament had included proven debt among the members' conditions in a political joke and not in good faith.

The Supreme Court responded to this in its judgement on Thursday. Justice Husnu Al Suood, who supported the opinion of Justice Mohammed Ibrahim, said the Constitution had included proven debt as a requirement for members to achieve a very noble purpose. It is included in the membership requirements in other countries of the world.

Husnu Al Suood said:

  • The Constitution included the article because there is no insolvency law in Maldives; there is still no such law in Maldives

  • Therefore, a very simple test is required to determine whether the candidacy of candidates for membership is invalid

  • It is whether the person has been sentenced to pay and if he is not paying in accordance with the sentence, he is disqualified

  • Hassan Shiyam has not paid the money in eight months

  • Although the debt was ordered against many others, including Hassan Shiyam, there is no exemption for Hassan Shiyam

"Therefore, the reasons cited are such that Hassan Shiyam does not meet the requirement of a candidate for parliament as stated in Article 73(c)(1) of the Constitution and Article 8(c)(1) of the Parliament Election Act, and the Election Commission's decision to accept his candidacy by allowing him to contest the 2024 parliamentary elections is null and void. The judges of the Supreme Court have unanimously decided," the apex court said in its verdict.

Details of debt owed by Hassan Shiyam

On February 16, 2006, State Bank of India (SBI) issued a loan of USD 10 million to Crystal Lagoon Resorts. On June 18, 2008, a loan of USD 64 million was issued. 11 people, including Hassan Shiyam, have guaranteed the repayment of these two loans.

However, due to non-payment as per the agreement, SBI filed a civil suit against the 11 people, for which the verdict read:

  • MVR 23 million with interest and penalty to be paid within eight months from 29 August 2015

  • If the money is not repaid, SBI is allowed to sell the two collateral; Eriyadhoo Island Resort and Maafushi Picnic Island

  • While SBI had re-filed the civil court for non-payment even after the judgement, it filed a motion on behalf of Hassan Shiyam seeking an order that the collateral be sold and there be no proved debt to be enforced till the court determines the amount due by the guarantors

  • He filed a case in the High Court alleging that the order was not issued by the Civil Court

  • The High Court upheld the civil court order on 13th last month.