The Supreme Court Tuesday ruled against the opposition, stating that the Anti-Defection Bill cannot be nullified and that it is constitutionally valid.
The Anti-Defection Bill, which was passed during the state of emergency, allows lawmakers to be removed if they defect or was expelled from the political party they were registered to at the time of election. The parliamentary committee that reviewed the bill added that it would be put into effect retrospectively from July 13, 2017, which is when the Supreme Court first issued its contentious ruling on floor-crossing and expelled several MPs from the parliament.
The bill was appealed at the apex court on March 15; just two days after the parliament passed it, by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) parliamentary group leader and Hinnavaru MP Ibrahim, Jumhoory Party (JP) member and Kendhoo MP Ali Hussain and the only lawmaker from Adhaalath Party, Makunudhoo MP Anara Naeem.
The Supreme Court, in its latest verdict, upheld its earlier decision and maintained that the guidelines set forth by the court on the matter of floor-crossing last July, still applies. The bill was ratified lawfully, with the spirit of upholding democratic values, the court ruled.
The verdict also said that the main reason the Anti-Defection Bill cannot be nullified is because it is important for the constitutional framework as it stipulates the details on floor-crossing and procedures to hold by-elections.
The court noted how it had ordered a bill to be drafted to regulate its order on July 13, as it would eliminate political bias and allow for democratic procedures to be carried out smoothly, if such laws were in place.
As the opposition had highlighted the matter of minimum quorum required to rectify the bill as it is a matter of public compliance as grounds for filing the case, the Supreme Court stated that, from the evidence submitted by the state, it was evident that some members had attended parliamentary committee meetings, and was in the premises of the parliament, but that they deliberately refused to attend the sittings without a reasonable excuse.
The top court’s verdict stated that it is the duty of the lawmakers to make regulations that would allow action against members that purposefully hinder the work of the parliament, noting that the parliament has not made any attempts to make such regulations while its work backlogs.