Court order halts printing the only newspaper in the Maldives

HaveeruA Civil Court on Thursday issued a temporary order to stop the publishing of Haveeru, the largest and only newspaper in the country over the contentious dispute of the ownership.

The Haveeru website reported that Ibrahim Rasheed Moosa and Abdulla Farooq had claimed shares from the profit received by Haveeru, stating that they are entitled to it based on an agreement that was signed amongst the two plaintiffs, Haveeru’s Chairman Dr. Mohamed Zahir Hussain and Mr. Mohamed Naeem on March 31, 1983.

The agreement states that all profit gained from the Haveeru News Agency must be shared amongst the four individuals involved, they had claimed.

The Civil Court in 2014 had ruled against Mr. Moosa and Mr. Farooq insisting that they cannot claim any shares from the Haveeru newspaper and its subsidiary Loamaafaanu Print.

The judge presiding over the case, Mrs. Mariyam Nihayath ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove the case in favour of the plaintiffs. She had also stated that the contract that was signed in 1983 was not legally binding.

The judge also noted how the evidence was in favour of Haveeru’s Chairman in proving that he has been the sole proprietor of Haveeru, prior to signing the agreement and even after the agreement was signed.

Furthermore, Judge Nihayath said that documents that were submitted to the court prove that Mr Zahir was solely responsible for all the loans that were taken from the state institutions for the development of Haveeru and that Mr. Moosa and Mr. Farooq played no hand in these transactions.

Despite claiming that the plaintiffs had shares in Haveeru’s Loamaafaanu Print, the evidence suggests that the two had not made any claims or taken any action to protect their rights since 1983, the Judge had stated.

The case was closed after Judge Nihayath claimed that there are no grounds to prove that the plaintiffs are entitled to any profits obtained by Haveeru newspaper and its printing agency.

However, the case was appealed at the High Court which annulled the lower court’s verdict in a contentious ruling that said the two plaintiffs were part owners of Haveeru as part of the original agreement.

The parties failed to arrive at an amicable agreement at the dispute resolution stage when the case went back to the Civil Court.

The court order issued on the request of the plaintiffs only applies for the print edition and does not include Haveeru Online.

The court also banned any financial transactions from the Haveeru bank accounts without the prior permission of the plaintiffs. (Colombo Gazette)

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