An appeal that sought to challenge the election of the current Prime Minister of Mauritius in the 2019 National Assembly Elections has been dismissed by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, in a judgment handed down today.
The appeal was brought by opposition politician Mr Surendra Dayal and sought to challenge the election of Prime Minister Mr Pravind Jugnauth and two of his ministers.
The appellant contended that promises made by the Prime Minister 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 Prime Minister spoke constituted treating.
The Judicial Committee rejected the allegations of bribery and treating, upholding the decision of the Supreme Court of Mauritius. The Judicial Committee held that the mechanistic and literal approach to the bribery legislative provision advocated for Mr Dayal would lead to absurd results, making normal election campaigning impossible and undermining the constitutional principle of free and fair elections.
Guy Vassall-Adams KC and Tim James-Matthews appeared for the Prime Minister of Mauritius (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.