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Opposition urges top court to re-visit anti-defection ruling

The united opposition has urged the archipelago's top court to re-visit its ruling which backed the government move to disqualify MPs who defect, violate party whip-lines or are removed from their respective parties.

Government on Monday made a last ditch attempt to stop bleeding lawmakers from the ruling party by filing a constitutional case asking the Supreme Court to disqualify MPs who defect or violate party whip-lines.

Attorney General (AG) Mohamed Anil who submitted the case argued that lawmakers who get elected on political party tickets make a promise to the people to uphold the belief, ideologies and policies of a particular political party.

So lawmakers do not have the right to switch parties or go against the party he or she represents which would be a violation of the rights of his or her voters, the AG argued.

The state has asked the country's top court to disqualify MPs elected on a particular party's ticket if he or she goes against the party's ideologies, quitting the party and or switching to another political party.

The case requires the Supreme Court to interpret four articles of the country's constitution.

The three judge bench hearing the case unanimously ruled in favour of the government. The court had also ordered relevant institutions to bring into effect an anti-defection law.

"Until the law is passed, with effect from today [Thursday] MPs elected on a particular party's ticket who voluntarily give up their party membership, or are removed from the party, or defecting to another party and or violate any decision or policy of the party would be disqualified," the ruling read.

During a press conference held by the joint opposition legal team on Saturday, lawyer and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim insisted that the law on disqualification of MPs already existed in the constitution which did not require further interpretation.

Waheed went on to note that that no state institution, courts and parliament included did not have the jurisdiction to undermine any article of the constitution.

"Judges are also human beings so they can also make a mistake. So if a mistake has been made, we would urge the court to immediately review its ruling and settle it within the confines of the laws," Waheed explained.

Lawyer Hisaan Hussain echoed her colleague's sentiments while adding that only the parliament had the legal jurisdiction to amend or pass new laws.

The move was designed to prevent as many as 10 PPM lawmakers from leaving the party after they backed an opposition led move to unseat the parliament speaker.

As the AG was filing the constitutional case, Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla, Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Musthafa and South-Thinadhoo MP Abdulla Mohamed officially asked to leave the party to join south-Machchangoalhi MP Abdulla Sinan, Villingili MP Saud Hussain and North-Thinadhoo MP Saudulla Hilmy to quit the party on Monday.

Dhihdhoo lawmaker Abdul Latheef Mohamed and Hanimaadhoo lawmaker Hussain Shahudhee also left the ruling party last week followed by Dhangethi MP Ilham Ahmed on Sunday.

North-Fuvahmulah MP Ali Shah late Tuesday also quit the party taking the tally of lawmakers to leave the embattled ruling party to 10 decimating the once mighty ruling coalition as the parliament minority.

The ruling party however, has refused to allow the lawmakers to leave saying that their requests can only be processed after their respective disciplinary hearing are concluded.

As the result of the Supreme Court ruling, most of the rebel lawmakers stand to lose their seats if they go through with quitting the party.

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