There has been a lot of speculation about the political fallout of the Privy Council’s judgement due to be promulgated on Monday 16th October, but the real debate will intensify once the ruling of the Law Lords is made public. One question that has occupied much of the speculation is whether the MSM leader and Prime Minister would still be eligible to stand as candidate at the next elections should the Privy Council rule in favour of Suren Dayal. The MSM seems to believe that such a denouement would be unlikely, and preparations are already underway to celebrate in a grand way the expected victory of Pravind Jugnauth in the streets of the Capital in the hours following the judgement. The Opposition has taken a more cautious approach, in view probably of what might have appeared to be a not-so-satisfactory case argued before the Law Lords.
It will be recalled that the main arguments put forward by Suren Dayal in his petition relate to alleged electoral bribery/corruption and the undue influence of electors in Constituency No 8. Invited in an earlier issue of this paper to comment on the legal aspects of the Suren Dayal appeal to the Privy Council, our contributor Lex had drawn the necessary distinction to be made between this as a civil case rather than a criminal offence. ‘An electoral petition is a civil matter governed by civil rules of procedure. This has been held time and again by the courts. A candidate whose election is invalidated on account of bribery, treating or undue influence is not convicted following the invalidation. The Privy Council itself held in the case of Ashock Jugnauth that an election petition is unquestionably a civil proceeding.’ Following the invalidation of his election, Ashock Jugnauth stood as a candidate at a subsequent by-election, but he was defeated by Pravind Jugnauth who then had the support of the Labour Party.
This would suggest that if the Privy Council were to invalidate the election on grounds of bribery and treating, it would be up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to advise prosecution after a proper police investigation. A complaint will however have to be lodged with the police. To which Lex cautioned: Even if a complaint is made, some may be of the view, rightly or wrongly, that the police which is perceived to be remote-controlled by the present regime, will take all the time they would want to until the next elections are over. Thus, the likelihood that a prosecution may not take place until after the next elections – if at all that were to happen.Read More… Become a Subscriber
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 13 October 2023
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