The Supreme Court of the Maldives on Sunday evening stated that there is nothing more to decide regarding the four parliamentarians who were contesting their disqualification from the parliament.
The four parliamentarians are: Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Dhidhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, Madduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim.
In an ambiguous verdict that was released late on Sunday evening, the court stated that it had already stipulated the ways in which a lawmaker would be unseated, and that it is also clearly stated in the Maldivian constitution.
The apex court had asked to refer to its earlier verdict that was issued on July 13, and stated, “...as per the reasons stated in the court’s earlier verdict, it maintains its earlier decision.”
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 shifts 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.
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.
The Supreme Court's verdict late Sunday was deemed confusing and vague; with many local media outlets reporting that the four members had, indeed, lost their seats, while others reported that the ruling was in their favour.
Many government-aligned media outlets, including state broadcaster PSM reported that the MPs have officially lost their seats after the apex court’s ruling. Meanwhile, former president Mohamed Nasheed tweeted that the court decided that the members had not lost their seats and that they should move forward with the censure motion against the parliament’s speaker.
Legal experts are still interpreting the verdict further.
The four MPs have already been cut-off from their parliamentary privileges since the Elections Commission officially announced that they lost their seats. The commission has even announced by-elections for the four constituencies.
If there are any doubts about the legitimacy of an MP’s seat in the parliament, the Constitution states that only the Supreme Court holds the authority to make a final decision regarding the validity of their seat.