The resignation of members seeking to leave the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) will be effective immediately upon the submission of their resignation letters as per the party's charter, declared the Supreme Court on Monday.
The apex court made the statement in its verdict Monday to reinstate Dhidhdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed, Villingili MP Saud Hussain, Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth and Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, who were unseated from parliament in 2017 after they defected from PPM to the opposition. The Elections Commission (EC) declared the legislators disqualified, 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.
In the verdict issued over a year after the four MPs filed to overturn EC's decision, the top court stated that the lawmakers had abided by the Political Parties Act and PPM's charter, both of which specified the situations in which a member is considered dismissed from a party.
Noting that Subject 20 of PPM's charter stated that requesting to leave the party will result in immediate dismissal, the Supreme Court stated that the four lawmakers had submitted their resignations at PPM prior to July 13, 2017, and thus the anti-defection ruling could not be applied retroactively.
The verdict went on to highlight that requests to remove the four MPs from PPM's registry were submitted on July 10, 2017 and, when their names were not removed, the members had filed complaints at the EC on July 11.
The court also highlighted that EC did not deny having copies of the members' letters requesting to leave PPM, and thus the commission's decision to oust them was applied retroactively.
In addition to Waheed, Latheef, Saud and Ameeth, the EC had also declared eight other legislators unseated from parliament over floor-crossing. While they had also filed at the Supreme Court to overturn EC's decision, the court is yet to commence hearings for their cases.