Committee revises draft law to disqualify 'rebel dozen'

The parliamentary independent bodies' committee late Monday revised the draft anti-defection law to disqualify the dozen former government lawmakers.

The draft law was submitted in the wake of a top court stay order the relevant institutions to hold off on the reinstatement of a dozen opposition lawmakers disqualified over an earlier anti-defection ruling.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

The court had also annulled its anti-defection ruling and ordered the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen rebel government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling. The Supreme Court said the anti-defection ruling was issued as a temporary solution to the constitutional dispute case filed by the state but insisted that the relevant authorities have failed to bring to effect an anti-defection law specified in the ruling.

After the government controlled parliament earlier Monday voted to accept the draft law, the parliamentary committee had revised it to make it effective from July 13, 2017 - the same day the top court had issued its original anti-defection ruling.

According to the draft law, lawmakers elected on party tickets would lose their respective seats if they quit, change or are dismissed from the party. However, the law would not apply to independent members if they sign for a particular party.

The law also does not apply to lawmakers for violating party whip-lines or are penalized by a party for disciplinary violations.

The draft law submitted by the chief government lawmaker Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik was accepted by 35 votes amid the continued boycott by opposition lawmakers.

However, several government lawmakers had voiced their concerns during the debate where most MPs had objected to giving the country's electoral watchdog the mandate to draft the regulations under the new law.

The parliamentary committee had also voted to remove the clause.

The parliament is expected to pass the new law during the sitting on Tuesday without further debate.