Chief Judge Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen and Judge Asraf Caunhye have issued their ruling on Thursday morning regarding the MedPoint case. They have granted leave to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to challenge the acquittal of Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in the MedPoint case. The DPP had sought permission from the Supreme Court to appeal against the verdict of acquittal in favour of Pravind Jugnauth.
In the judgement, the court concluded that the appeal of the DPP raises substantial and significant issues of law. “We accordingly consider that the issues raised by the applicant are of great general or public importance which ought to be submitted to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and, in that respect, we see no reason why we should depart from the approach previously adopted by this Court in similar applications,” can be read on the Judgement.
The judgement also highlights that it is the first appeal heard by the Supreme Court in relation to an offence of conflict of interests under section 13(2) and (3) of the Act. “It raises a number of fundamental legal issues, to a large extent concerned with the interpretation of certain elements of the offence itself and their application to the facts of the case.”
It is to be recalled that Pravind Jugnauth was found guilty of conflict of interest on 30 June 2015 by the Intermediate Court. He had been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. The sentence was then commuted to 90 hours of community service. He was accused of approving, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, the reallocation of Rs 144.7 million for the purchase by the State of the MedPoint clinic, which includes among its shareholders his sister, Shalini Malhotra.
On the 25 May 2016, the judgment of the Intermediate Court was overturned by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found no conflict of interest between Pravind Jugnauth and the reallocation of funds for the MedPoint clinic. Chief Judge Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen and Judge Asraf Caunhye ruled in a 32-page judgment. They pointed out that the magistrates of the intermediate court had misinterpreted the law ("misdirections in law") in that it was a question of establishing whether the former Minister of Technology had acted in full knowledge of the facts or had acted in good faith.
14 days delay for the applicant
The applicant has 14 days delay from the day of judgement to provide sufficient security in the sum of Rs 150,000 to the satisfaction of the Master and Registrar for the due prosecution of the appeal. The applicant shall also procure the preparation of the record and the despatch thereof to England not later than three months from the date of this judgment.
Statement of Pravind Jugnauth’s lawyers
Following the judgment, after the consultation, the panel of lawyers of Pravind Jugnauth made the following statement:
- The Supreme Court, in a judgment issued this morning (Thursday), grants leave to the DPP to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The judgment of the Supreme Court of 25 May 2016 overturned that of the Intermediate Court delivered on 2 July 2015
- Pravind Jugnauth welcomes this judgment, which confirmed, if necessary, the independence of the Mauritian judiciary
- The judgment issued this morning does not put into question the innocence of Pravind Jugnauth, as recognised by the Supreme Court
- Thus, the original judgment rendered by the Interim Court on 2 July 2015 remains invalid
- The conclusions on the facts reached by the Supreme Court in its judgment of 25 May 2016 remain valid
- The Judges recalled that in their judgment rendered in 2016, they had pointed out that Pravind Jugnauth's appeal was the first appeal of the Supreme Court concerning the conflict of interest under Sections 13 (2) and 13 ( 3) and that the appeal had raised a number of fundamental legal issues concerning the interpretation of certain elements of an offence under those sections
- The Supreme Court granted the DPP leave to appeal on three issues, which are questions of statutory interpretation under Section 13 (2) of the POCA
- It should be noted that the Privy Council does not hear an appeal on facts only. In other words, the Privy Council does not question the Supreme Court's findings on the facts
- Pravind Jugnauth hopes that the appeal would be heard as soon as possible and his lawyers would do their utmost to ensure that it is done.
Shakeel Mohamed: “Let Pravind Jugnauth make a choice”
Shakeel Mohamed, leader of the Labour Party Parliament Group, is of the opinion that it is necessary to refrain from making incendiary comments, out of respect for the judiciary and for the citizen Pravind Jugnauth. He declares that Pravind Jugnauth himself needs to make a choice as to whether or not he should remain as Prime Minister. “We have to let things take their course. We will not belittle ourselves like the MSM and the Muvman Liberater to make incendiary comments. If Pravind Jugnauth remains in office, he will have to explain himself one day,” he said.
Veda Baloomoody: “Pravind Jugnauth must resign”
The MMM member Veda Baloomoody states that it is imperative that Pravind Jugnauth resigns as head of government, pending the judgment of the Privy Council. “I thought that the Prime Minister had already resigned. This is a very interesting development because the point raised by the Privy Council gives a good interpretation of this section of the law. This is the first time a case involving the Prime Minister has been presented to the Privy Council,” he points out.
DPP allowed to challenge ICAC
Chief Judge Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen and Judge Asraf Caunhye have on Thursday authorised the Director of Public Prosecutions, Satyajit Boolell, to resort to judicial review to challenge his convocation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ICAC) in the Sun Tan case.
The DPP had applied for a judicial review for the decision of the second respondent dated 6 July 2015 to refer the matter of Sun Tan Hotels Pty Ltd to the first respondent for investigation and the decision of the first respondent taken on 13 July 2015 to proceed with further investigation, to convene the applicant to its headquarters and to require him to make a statement under warning in relation to the said matter.
This case concerns the granting of a lease on ‘Pas Géometriques’ in Palmar to Sun Tan Ltd. Satyajit Boolell was one of the directors of the company and he attended a meeting between officials of the Ministry of Housing and Lands and officials of Sun Tan. He had been summoned by ICAC for the purpose of an investigation. But his convocation was aborted on the intervention of Judge Ah Foon Chui Yew Cheong.