Opposition leaders' letter to top court over MP disqualifications

The four leaders of the now united opposition on Wednesday sent a letter to the country's top court asking the five judge bench to allay the confusion surrounding its anti-defection ruling which has disqualified as many as a dozen lawmakers.

The letter signed by former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla was delivered by top representatives of each of the four leaders.

Elections commission had disqualified a dozen ruling party lawmakers over the anti-defection ruling issued by the Supreme Court last year.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) had engineered the constitutional dispute case asking the Supreme Court to disqualify MPs who defect or violate party whip-lines and or are formally removed from their respective party.

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.

In August, the Supreme Court said it had "nothing more to settle" over the challenges filed by four other rebel lawmakers who were disqualified by the elections commission based on the anti-defection ruling.

More than a month after the challenges were filed, the Supreme Court in its response had referred to its original anti-defection ruling and the subsequent explanation which has sparked confusion from both the opposition and the government alike.

The rebel lawmakers along with the opposition have continued to insist that they would not lose their seats in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Amid the contrasting opinion, the Supreme Court had issued a statement in attempt to lift the confusion, but has instead cast more doubts over the disqualification of the rebel ruling party MPs.

The top court has said the ruling clearly states that it would not apply to any past events in retrospect to the latest precedent.

The Supreme Court reiterated that the anti-defection ruling would only be effective from July 13 and would only apply to events from that date.

"Hence the ruling clearly applies to lawmakers representing a particular party from the said date, there is nothing further to settle over the matter," the unanimous response read.

Speaking to reporters after delivering the letter, chief opposition lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said rights of around 60,000 people are being violated with each passing day their representatives are barred from the parliament.

AVAS understands that the letter has been accepted by the Supreme Court.

Several of the disqualified lawmakers meanwhile, have been trying to meet the top court bench over the challenges. The five judge bench has however, so far denied repeated requests for an audience.