On 10 July, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council heard the appeal in Dayal v Jugnauth & ors. The appeal arises from an election petition concerning the conduct of the 2019 Mauritian National Assembly election and raises important issues concerning the scope of the election offence of ‘bribery’, and freedom of expression in electoral campaigns.
The case concerns the 2019 Mauritius National Assembly election in Constituency No. 8. The Appellant and the First to Third Respondents were candidates in that constituency election. The Appellant was unsuccessful in the election. The First to Third Respondents were each returned as members of the National Assembly for Constituency No. 8 and the First Respondent (Mr Pravind Jugnauth) continued to serve as Prime Minister of Mauritius.
By a petition presented to the Supreme Court of Mauritius, the Appellant alleged that the First to Third Respondents was to be avoided by reason of bribery and/or treating and/or undue influence.
In particular the Appellant alleged that promises made by the First Respondent during the election campaign to increase the basic retirement pension, to accelerate forms of public sector pay and terms, and to pay a one-off performance bonus to police officers, firemen and prison officers constituted bribery. The Appellant further alleged that the provision of food, drink and entertainment at an event organised by the Ministry of Social Security at which the First Respondent spoke constituted treating.
In 2021 the Supreme Court of Mauritius dismissed the election petition on all grounds. The Appellant has appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council with leave of the Supreme Court of Mauritius.
Guy Vassall-Adams KC and Tim James-Matthews appeared for the First to Third Respondents (together with Ravindra Chetty SC), instructed by Nick Wrightson and Nick de Mulder of Kingsley Napley and Shamila Romila Sonah-Ori.
Helen Mountfield KC appeared for the Fourth and Sixth Respondents, the Electoral Commissioner of Mauritius, and the returning officer for the relevant constituency (together with Annabelle Ombrasine), instructed by RWK Goodman Derrick.