Top court overturns EC decision to oust lawmakers

Lawmakers pictured leaving the Supreme Court.

Lawmakers pictured leaving the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court late on Thursday night overturned the Elections Commission’s declaration that 12 lawmakers had lost their seats in parliament.

The Elections Commission had declared the 12 MPs, formerly of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), disqualified from parliament after they joined the opposition coalition. The Supreme Court had issued a contentious anti-defection ruling in July last year, which stated that any lawmaker that resigned or was expelled from the party he or she was registered to at the time of election, or shifted to another party, would be ousted from the parliament.

However, the apex court terminated that ruling on floor-crossing in an unprecedented court order it issued Thursday night. The court overturned all declarations that lawmakers had lost their seats in the wake of the now-annulled ruling, and declared that the new parliament term coming up this year must proceed with the MPs in question.

Three of the parliamentarians who were declared disqualified are also currently facing a criminal charge for “trespassing” after they were caught, with other opposition lawmakers, forcibly entering the parliament premises last July.

The parliament privileges were also withheld from the 12 lawmakers.

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