The state prosecution argued Tuesday that the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) expelled Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim and Villingili MP Saud Hussain after the apex court’s ruling on anti-defection and, thus, the lawmakers have lost their seats in Parliament.
On July 13, the Supreme Court issued a ruling which stated that any parliamentarian that resigns or is expelled from the political party they were registered to at the time of election, or shift to another party, will lose their seat in the parliament. The apex court had clarified its ruling just two days later on July 16 and held that the ruling could not be applied retroactively.
Following the court’s ruling, the Elections Commission (EC) had announced that four defecting members from the ruling party had lost their seats and announced that by-elections will be held for the respective constituencies.
This decision led to protests outside the house of parliament on July 24, when the opposition parliamentarians were supposed to submit the no-confidence motion against the speaker for a third time. As many as nine legislators were taken into custody, and some were charged with “criminal trespassing” after they attempted to enter the parliament despite the heavy army presence barring them from entering the parliament chambers.
Meanwhile, the Maldivian Constitution already lists the conditions under which parliamentarians would lose their seats, which includes failure to pay a decreed debt, criminal convictions entailing jail sentences of over 12 months, or being part of the judiciary. The Constitution does not specify leaving or expulsion from political parties or floor-crossing as conditions to oust lawmakers.
Thulusdhoo MP Waheed’s trial
During Tuesday’s hearing of MP Waheed’s appeal proceedings, the state claimed that he was dismissed from PPM on July 18 after he refused to take back his signature on the opposition-led censure motion against parliament’s speaker Abdullah Maseeh.
Further, state attorneys claimed that the EC had not been informed whether MP Waheed was expelled from the ruling party in March.
However, MP Waheed’s lawyers argued that he was expelled from the party on March 25, and that he received a letter of expulsion that was also forwarded to the EC. Therefore, they claimed that that was the date the Thulusdhoo MP was dismissed from the party.
The prosecution maintained that the said letter was sent to MP Waheed personally and that no official letters of expulsion were filed at any state institution, including the EC.
The state also noted that any media reports on MP Waheed’s expulsion from the ruling party are inadmissible.
Villingili MP Saud’s trial
During MP Saud’s trial, the prosecution stated that PPM filed the Villingili MP’s expulsion letter after the apex court’s ruling on anti-defection.
The attorney from EC Riffath Abdullah backed this claim, stating that PPM filed MP Saud’s expulsion letter with them on July 18.
However, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed concluded Tuesday’s hearing abruptly after declaring that the allocated time for trial is over and that the proceedings will continue Wednesday.
MP Saud, who is still in remand, was also present at Tuesday’s trial. The MP was taken into custody for trespassing after he tried to enter the premises of the parliament after EC had declared that he had lost his seat on July 24.
Besides Thulusdhoo MP Waheed and Villingili MP Saud, the EC has declared that Madduvari MP Ameeth and Dhidhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed have also lost their parliament seats for defecting.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the court, instead of the prosecution, conceded that MPs Waheed and Saud were expelled from PPM after the Supreme Court ruling on anti-defection. We apologise for the mistake.