Justice delayed is justice denied

This is not the time for political shenanigans and endless politicking

By Mrinal Roy

The disclosure of the purported findings of the judicial inquiry into the death of the political activist Soopramanien Kistnen, which occurred more than two years ago, seems to have set the cat among the pigeons. The alleged findings covering diverse eye-opening ramifications of the inquiry, if true, are damning. They have jolted the nation and forced government Ministers to multiply their declarations in damage control mode.

However, the firefighting narrative seems rather mixed up. After demanding an urgent inquiry to nab those who leaked the findings of the judicial inquiry and brandishing the red flag that the leaked document could, owing to the risk of a trial by the press, undermine the case against any accused party, the government is now questioning the authenticity of the unsigned document. Which is which?

Scathing response

In a scathing communique, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), whose role and powers are protected by the Constitution, stated that he ‘takes strong exception to any insinuation that any criminal offence may have been committed by any officer of the office of the DPP, who would allegedly be subjected to a police enquiry and to possible disciplinary proceedings.’

The DPP had ordered a judicial inquiry by a magistrate into the death of Soopramanien Kistnen. On receipt of the Magistrate’s findings, the DPP had on 26 January 2022 advised the Commissioner of Police to carry out an in-depth enquiry, in line with all the Magistrate’s recommendations. The DPP also stated that his office ‘remains focused on the urgency of the completion of the police enquiry to identify those responsible for the death of Soopramanien Kistnen with a view to bringing them to justice.’ He added that he will not allow itself to be intimidated and will fearlessly uphold the rule of law.

These are comforting assurances from an institution committed to unswervingly honour its constitutional mandate. The separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch and the judicial branch as well as timely justice are fundamental anchors of a democracy. There is therefore a growing uproar and pervasive frustration among the people at the inordinate delay in the completion of police inquiries to identify culprits and bring them to justice in a long list of cases. It is extremely galling for families of victims who in some cases have been waiting for more than 10 years to obtain justice and people in general in matters of public interest to see years go by without pending police or ICAC investigations being concluded in a plethora of cases. The list of protracted investigations is getting longer and longer.

Never ending

For example, the never-ending investigations relating to the explicit allegations of corruption and bribery by ‘members of the Mauritian administration and others’ made by the African Development Bank and the Danish contractor Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S (BWSC) in June 2020 on the Rs 4.3 billion CEB Saint Louis Power Plant Redevelopment Project allocated to the latter in 2014 are yet to be concluded more than two years after. Similarly, the investigations relating to emergency government procurement tenders to source medicines, protective equipment, medical supplies and equipment and laboratory supplies in 2020 to fight the Covid-19 pandemic at a cost of more than Rs 1 billion from a nondescript array of suppliers leaving the country saddled with 50 inoperative ventilators costing Rs 80 million also seem to be in limbo. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 21 October 2022

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