The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Mohamed Ameeth of Madduvari constituency has not lost his seat in parliament.
The Elections Commission (EC) had declared Ameeth disqualified from parliament and called for a by-election of the constituency on July 18, 2017, in relation to the Supreme Court's prickly anti-defection ruling last year, which stated that any lawmaker who resigned or was dismissed after July 13, 2017 from the political party they were registered at during the time of their election to parliament, would lose their seat by default.
The verdict, as per by the full bench of the Supreme Court, stated that the letter sent by ruling Progressive Party of Maldives to EC on March 29, 2017 dismissing Ameeth from the party served as evidence nullifying EC's decision in July.
The verdict, delivered by Chief Justice Dr. Ahmed Abdulla Didi, stated that while PPM's charter had allotted a period of 15 days to appeal the decision, as Ameeth was in Male' during that time, it was clear to the state, considering his statements on the matter, that no appeal had been made seeking to overturn the decision to revoke his party membership.
According to the verdict, although a plea for the removal of membership from the PPM registry had been made on July 10, 2017 the request had not been granted. Further, the verdict stated that it was clear that a complaint had also been submitted on July 11, 2017 following a failure to revoke said membership.
The Chief Justice highlighted the July 16, 2017 Supreme Court ruling in which the court declared that its anti-defection ruling could not be applied retroactively, outlining three situations in which a parliamentarian will lose his or her seat. The verdict stated that on the grounds that neither of the three aforementioned situations (the resignation or dismissal from the political party the lawmaker is registered at during the time of their election to parliament, or the transfer to another political party) was met, MP Ameeth could not be unseated.
Although PPM provided a period of time for MP Ameeth to withdraw his signature on the vote of no confidence against Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, the refusal of MP Waheed to withdraw his signature within the stated period had led to the party's decision to expel MP Ameeth.
Following the decision of the disciplinary committee to expel Ameeth from the party, PPM requested EC to remove him from the party's registry.
According to the verdict, PPM had submitted an appeal for Ameeth's case after the period stated in the party charter had expired and that his removal from the party by its disciplinary committee was not in accordance with the law.
Hence, in the verdict announced more than a year since the validity of MP MP Ameeth's seat was first put in question, it was declared to be "very clear" that MP Ameeth had left the party prior to the apex court ruling.
The verdict also mentioned that EC's dismissal of MP Ameeth from parliament was made based on actions made by MP Waheed that took place prior to the anti-defection ruling.
MP Ameeth is amongst 12 lawmakers who were declared disqualified from the parliament over the anti-defection ruling. While all 12 have also filed at the top court to overturn the EC's decision to oust them, the court so far has held the hearings of only Ameeth, Thulusdhoo MP Waheed, Villingili MP Saud Hussain and Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth.
So far, all 4 hearings have resulted in the reinstatement of the respective MPs.
Further for the remaining 8 lawmakers are yet to be held.
The EC last week had reverted its previous decision to expel the 12 lawmakers from parliament. However, the Supreme Court nullified the EC's decision, stating that only the top court was authorised to look into the cases from a constitutional perspective and reach a verdict.