Top court warns anti-defection ruling critics

Maldives top court late Sunday fired a stark warning to critics of the controversial ruling to back a 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.

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.

The ruling has attracted intense opposition criticism while several local legal experts have described the verdict as unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court on Sunday warned strict action against attempts to undermine the court and question its rulings, reminding critics that the court had the constitutional authority to have the final say in constitutional disputes.

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.