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Opposition to appeal Anti-Defection Bill at Supreme Court

15 March 2018, MVT 02:51
Opposition MP Ibrahim Solih (R) and MP Abdullah Riyaz speaking to the press after the extraordinary parliament sitting held Tuesday evening MIHAARU PHOTO / HUSSEN WAHEED
15 March 2018, MVT 02:51

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Wednesday filed a case at Supreme Court to nullify the Anti-Defection bill and the amendments to the Judicature Act.

The Anti-Defection Bill was passed with 36 votes in favour from pro-government MP’s after opposition had boycotted the parliament sitting. The bill states that, if a lawmaker defects or was expelled from the political party they were registered to at the time of election, they will automatically lose their seat in the parliament.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee had also approved the amendments to the Judicature Act, proposed by pro-government lawmaker MP Abdul Raheem, allowing judges to be removed if an appellate court finds them guilty of a criminal offence.

The opposition maintains that the amendment proposed by the government contradicts Article 154 of the Constitution, which states that a judge can only be removed from office if the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) finds that the judge is grossly incompetent, or that the judge is guilty of gross misconduct. JSC is required to submit a resolution to the parliament supporting the removal of the judge, which has to be approved by at least two-thirds of majority of the parliament present at the sitting.

However, the new amendment proposed by the government states that the procedures declared in Article 154 of the Constitution would not be applicable when removing a judge who has been found guilty of a crime, since it does not constitute for a disciplinary action.

Speaking at the Jumhoory Party (JP) main party hub in the capital, Kendhoo MP Ali Hussein noted that Article 154 renders the power to remove a judge from office to the parliament, solely based on JSC's advice, in order to avoid political influence, which has now been revoked in light of the recent amendments to the Judicature Act. The opposition lawmaker also added that the recently approved bills are against all the principles of the presidential system.

The parliamentary committee in its review had stated that the Anti-Defection Bill would be put into effect retrospectively from July 14, 2017, which was when the Supreme Court first issued its contentious ruling on parliament floor crossing and unseated several MPs.

With the approval of the Anti-Deflecction Bill, 12 lawmakers will lose their seats in the parliament. The MPs to be axed include Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth and Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, Machangolhi South MP Abdulla Sinan, Dhangethi MP Ilham Ahmed, Thinadhoo South MP Abdulla Ahmed, Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Musthafa and Fuvahmulah North MP Ali Shah.

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