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Pétition électorale : un candidat battu du Reform Party réclame l’invalidation de l’élection de Collendavelloo

Preetam Seewochurn, candidat battu du Reform Party dans la circonscription numéro 19 (Stanley/Rose-Hill), lors des dernières élections générales, a déposé une pétition électorale en Cour suprême, ce lundi 18 novembre. Il demande l’invalidation de l’élection du Premier ministre adjoint, Ivan Collendavelloo, dans la circonscription no 19 (Stanley Rose Hill). Preetam Seewochurn parle de «bribe électoral massif» pour justifier sa démarche.

Pour soutenir cette demande d’invalidation de l’élection d’Ivan Collenvadelloo au Parlement, Preetam Seewochurn est d’avis que certains éléments ont pu fausser le scrutin législatif du jeudi 7 novembre. Il cite en exemple trois points :

1. La proposition d'augmentation massive de la pension de vieillesse pour inciter plus de 200 000 électeurs âgés de plus de 60 ans, y compris ceux de la circonscription no 19.

2. La proposition d'accélérer la mise en œuvre du rapport du Pay Research Bureau (PRB) en janvier 2020 pour «inciter de manière corrompue les électeurs travaillant dans le secteur public».

3. La promesse de paiement de plus de Rs 3 milliards pour obtenir les votes des titulaires de polices d'assurance Super Cash Back Gold et des investisseurs de Bramer Asset»

La pétition électorale a été déposée par l’intermédiaire des hommes de loi de Preetam Seewochurn, soit Me Roshi Bhadhain et Me Pazhany Rangasamy, avoué. Elle  est dirigée contre Ivan Collendavelloo, le Commissaire électoral, Irfan Rahman, l’Electoral Supervisory Commission ainsi que contre le «Returning Officer» de la circonscription no 19 lors de ces législatives 2019, à savoir Kevin Moorghen.

La pétition électorale de Preetam Seewochurn pour invalider l’élection d’Ivan Collendavelloo sera examinée par le juge des référés, Bobby Madhub. L’affaire sera appelée devant le chef juge le 25 novembre prochain.

Preetam Seewoochurn a pris la 13e place dans la circonscription no 19 aux législatives du 7 novembre avec 498 voix. Les trois élus dans cette circonscription sont Paul Bérenger (MMM) avec 14 368 voix, Deven Nagalimgum du MMM avec 9 250 voix et Ivan Collendavelloo de l'Alliance Morisien avec 8 959 voix. 

Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo de l'Alliance Morisien a terminé à la cinquième place avec 8 678 voix derrière la candidate du MMM, Jenny Adebiro (8 867 voix). Cependant, l'ex-vice Première ministre a été repêchée comme députée sous le Best Loser System.


 Voici la pétition électorale déposée par Preetam Seewochurn :

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF MAURITIUS
(BEFORE THE HONOURABLE JUDGE IN CHAMBERS)
(Application being made pursuant to sections 45(1)(a)(ii) and 64(1) of the Representation of People Act 1958)

In the matter of :-

Mr Preetam SEEWOCHURN, of Avenue des Flamboyants, Roches Brunes


PETITIONER

VERSUS

1.    Hon. Ivan Leslie COLLENDAVELLOO, of Impasse Goupille, Gaetan Raynal Street, Beau Bassin
2.    The Electoral Commissioner, service to be effected at Cnr Louis Pasteur & Remy Ollier Streets, 4th Floor, Max City Building, Port Louis.
3.    The Electoral Supervisory Commission, service to be effected at Cnr Louis Pasteur & Remy Ollier Streets, 4th Floor, Max City Building, Port Louis.
4.    The Returning Officer of Constituency No.19, Stanley and Rose Hill, Mr Kevin MOORGHEN, service to be effected at Cnr Louis Pasteur & Remy Ollier Streets, 4th Floor, Max City Building, Port Louis.
RESPONDENTS
In the presence of:

1.    Hon. Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar JUGNAUTH, of 16 Angus Road, Vacoas 

2.    Salim MUTHY, of Washerwoman Street, Port Louis.

3.    Yousouf SUMODHEE, of 8 Rue Canal. Vandermeersch, Beau Bassin.

CO-RESPONDENTS

___________
PETITION
___________

The Humble Petition of the abovementioned Petitioner, a candidate in Constituency No. 19, Stanley and Rose Hill (hereinafter referred to as Your Petitioner), electing his legal domicile in the office of the undersigned Attorney at Law situate at 5th Floor, Hennessy Tower, Pope Hennessy Street, Port Louis, complaining of the undue election of the Respondent No.1 on the ground that the election held on 7thNovember 2019 was null and void to all intents and purposes by reason of bribery.

RESPECTFULLY SHEWETH

1.    That Your Petitioner in the above matter was an unsuccessful candidate at the General Elections held on 7th November 2019 when he stood as candidate for the Reform Party, a registered political party in the Republic of Mauritius, in Constituency No. 19, Stanley and Rose Hill.

2.    Your Petitioner avers that the Respondent No. 1 is the leader of the ‘Muvman Liberater’ party (“ML”), which formed part of a coalition called ‘L’Alliance Morisien’ together with ‘Mouvement Socialiste Militant’ (MSM).

3.    Your Petitioner avers that the Respondent No. 2 is responsible, inter alia, for the registration of electors and candidates and the holding of the aforesaid General Elections.

4.    Your Petitioner avers that the Respondent No. 3 has the general responsibility, inter alia, to supervise the registration of electors and of candidates, and the holding of the aforesaid General Elections.

5.    Your Petitioner avers that the Respondent No. 4 was the appointed Returning Officer for the constituency no. 19 for the aforesaid General Elections.

6.    Your Petitioner further avers that Co-Respondent No. 1 is the leader of the MSM party, as well as ‘L’Alliance Morisien’ and has been campaigning together with the Respondent No. 1 during the said General Elections.

7.    Your Petitioner avers that prior to the said General Elections, the ML and the MSM were parties in power and the Respondent No. 1 held the post of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, whilst Co-Respondent No. 1 held the post of Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development.

8.    Your Petitioner avers that on 6th October 2019, the National Assembly was dissolved and on the same day the President acting in accordance with the advice of Co-Respondent No. 1. By virtue of Section 41(1) of the Representation of People Act 1958 (“RPA”), issued a Writ of Election for a new National Assembly. The 22nd October 2019 was fixed as Nomination Day and 7th November 2019 as Polling Day.
    
9.    Your Petitioner avers that prior to and ever since the dissolution of the National Assembly and the issue of the Writ of Election on 6th October 2019, the Respondent No. 1 and his agents and persons acting on his behalf with his consent and knowledge have indulged in bribery contrary to Sections 45(1)(a)(ii) and 64(1) of the RPA, in order to corruptly procure, promote and/or influence the election of the Respondent No. 1 in Constituency No. 19, Stanley and Rose Hill.

10.    Your Petitioner avers that the particulars of the bribery are as follows:

(a)    Massive proposed increase in old-age pension to induce over 200,000 voters over 60 years, including those in Constituency No. 19:

(i)    On 10th June 2019, in the Budget Speech 2019-2020, Co-Respondent No. 1 announced that the monthly old-age pension will be increased in January 2020 by Rs 500, from Rs 6,210 to Rs 6,710.

(ii)    On 1st October 2019, i.e. five days prior to the dissolution of the National Assembly, an event was organised at the SVICC Convention Centre by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, where thousands of old-aged persons were given free transport and food (“biryani”) to attend.

(iii)    Co-Respondent No. 1 announced that he would double the pension for old-aged pensioners, which would increase from the current amount of Rs 6,210 to Rs 13,500 monthly during his next mandate.

(iv)    The announcement of Co-Respondent No. 1 with regard to the increase in old-age pension to Rs 13,500 was broadcasted by the national TV station (the MBC), radio stations and published by newspapers and on the internet. L’express.mu published, on the same day, an article entitled: “Journée internationale des personnes âgées: cafouillage au moment de la distribution de biryani”. A video showing old persons scrambling to obtain packs of “biryani” was also posted on its website. 

(v)    On the same day, the Government Information Service (GIS), Prime Minister’s Office reported that Co-Respondent No. 1 had stated, inter alia: “The Prime Minister expressed his wish to double the actual monthly Basic Retirement Pension of Rs 6, 210 to Rs 13, 500 if he is elected for a second mandate.” [Emphasis Added]

(vi)    On 5th October 2019, i.e. the day before the dissolution of the National Assembly and issue of Writ of Election, the Respondent No. 1 publicly announced that the old-age pension would increase to Rs 9,000 as from January 2020. The announcement was made at an event organised for the ‘Southern Old People Association’ at Domaine de Belle Vue, Chemin Grenier.

(vii)    The Respondent No. 1 publicly stated before the old age persons gathered that: 

    In January 2020, the old-age pension will increase from Rs 6,210 to Rs 9,000 monthly and will be at same level as the minimum salary, if the government is re-elected;

    at the end of the next mandate, the old-age pension will increase to Rs 13,500; and

    where a husband and wife both benefit from old-age pensions, it will add up to a sum of Rs 27,000 monthly and with the end of year bonus, they will receive Rs 54,000.

(viii)    After the dissolution of the National Assembly and issue of Writ of Election, on 15th October 2019 Co-Respondent No. 1 announced at a public meeting of the “L’Alliance Morisien” at Belle Rose, Quatre Bornes that: “"Lot zour la, Ivan Collendavello inn fini deza donne enn signale. Bé, mo ti a kontan confirme li zordi, à partire Decembre la, sa l'année la, pension la pou fini vinn Rs 9000. Nu alligne li ar salaire minimale!".

(ix)    On the same night, 15th October 2019, lexpress.mu published an article entitled: “Pravind Jugnauth: la pension vieillesse passera à Rs 9,000 dès le mois de décembre.”

(x)    Your Petitioner avers that the announcements made by Respondent No. 1 and Co-Respondent No. 1 meant that all voters over the age of 60 would receive an increase in old-age pension to Rs 9,000 in DECEMBER 2019, which in effect means that every voter over 60 years in Mauritius would receive Rs 18,000 one month after the elections, as the end of year bonus doubles the pension payment received in December 2019.

(xi)    Your Petitioner avers that it is only on 23rd October 2019, that the Respondent No. 1 and Co-Respondent No. 1 published 15 measures in a document called ‘L’Alliance Morisien Manifeste Electoral 2019’, in which the 1st measure stated: “Augmentation de la pension vieillesse à Rs 9,000 à partir de Décembre 2019 et à Rs 13,500 durant le prochain mandat.”

(xii)    Your Petitioner avers that the announcements made by the Respondent No. 1 on 5th October 2019, prior to the dissolution of the National Assembly on 6th October 2019, was specifically designed to induce or influence the voters, more specifically those over 60 years who were entitled to old-age pension, which represents a massive number of over 200,000 voters, out of a total of 900,000 voters, to vote for the Respondent No. 1 and “L’Alliance Morisien” in the said General Elections.

(xiii)    Your Petitioner avers that the proposed payment of old-age pension announced on 15th October 2019, after the dissolution of the National Assembly and issue of Writ of Election, which would make each voter, over the age of 60 years receive Rs 18,000 in December 2019, instead of Rs 12,420 was a mala fide act with corrupt motive designed to procure such valuable consideration to these voters, thereby amounting to bribery.

(b)    Proposed accelerated implementation of PRB report in January 2020 to corruptly induce voters working in the public sector.

(i)    On 5th December 2018, Government announced that the PRB (Pay Research Bureau) report, with regard to pay and grading structures in the public sector, would be released around October 2020 and its recommendations will be effective as from 1st January 2021.

(ii)    Co-Respondent No. 1 emphasised in the National Assembly that the 2016 PRB Report re-established the periodicity of the general review exercise to five years, (i.e. next report effective as from 1st January 2021), which was accepted by all public sector employees.

(iii)    On 10th June 2019, Co-Respondent No. 1 stated in the Budget Speech 2019-2020 that the PRB report is due in January 2021 and that pending the publication of the PRB report, a payment of an interim monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 will be effected to all public officers, as from 1st January 2020.

(iv)    Your Petitioner avers that after the dissolution of the National Assembly on 6th October 2019, the Respondent No. 1 and Co-Respondent No. 1 announced during the electoral campaign on 23rd October 2019, that the PRB will be effective as from 1st January 2020 (instead of 1st January 2021), thus accelerating the payments and proposing valuable consideration to induce the votes of more than 80,000 public sector employees, which represent over 10% of the voting population across the island.

(v)    Your Petitioner further avers that Respondent No. 1’s and the Co-Respondent No. 1’s purpose for contradicting Government policy of making only an interim payment of Rs 1,000 to public officers in January 2020, as announced in the National Assembly, was to induce or influence public officers to vote for the Respondent No. 1 and other candidates of “L’Alliance Morisien”.

(vi)    Your Petitioner avers that there was no cogent argument put forward by the Respondent No. 1 and this was clearly an act of exchanging valuable consideration for the votes of public officers, thereby amounting to bribery.

(c)    Promise of payment of over Rs 3 billion to induce the votes of ‘Super Cash Back Gold’ insurance policyholders and Bramer Asset investors.

(i)    Your Petitioner avers that he is informed that in June 2017, the insurance policyholders of ‘Super Cash Back Gold’ (SCBG) and investors of Bramer Asset Management Ltd (BAML) held a hunger strike at ‘Jardin La Compagnie’. However, to repay them the amount due to them. However, Government refused to repay them the full amount they had invested.

(ii)    Your Petitioner is informed that the SCBG insurance policyholders and Bramer Asset investors, were repaid 70% and 60% (depending on capital invested), of the amount due to them by the National Property Fund Limited (NPFL), a Government owned company in years 2017/2018. 

(iii)    Your Petitioner is also informed that as SCBG and BAML victims’ were dissatisfied with the Government decision, they started legal proceedings in year 2018 to claim the remaining unpaid balances due to them and the case is still ongoing before the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

(iv)    Your Petitioner avers that after the dissolution of Parliament and issue of the writ of election, Co-Respondent No. 2 (the representative of the SCBG and BAML victims) held a meeting on 20th October 2019 at Rabita Hall, Port Louis, which were attended by the victims. They claimed for the reimbursement of 100% of their capital investment. Members of the opposition parties were also present in the assistance, whereas no member of the “L’Alliance Morisien” attended. 

(v)    Your Petitioner further avers that the Co-Respondent No. 2 stressed at the said meeting that there are about 75,000 votes in the hands of the victims. This was reported in the press and lexpress.mu published an article entitled: “Salim Muthy: «Ena 75 000 votes dan lamé ban viktim BAI»”.

(vi)    Your Petitioner avers that, subsequently, Co-Respondents No. 2 and 3 were called for negotiation at meetings held on 30th October, 31st October and 1st November (which was a public holiday) 2019. They were proposed by representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the NPFL that they would be paid 100% of the remaining balance due to those victims who were owed up to Rs 7 million and 75% of the remaining balance for those victims who were owed more than Rs 7 million. They were also informed that they had to hold another public meeting to inform the victims that over Rs 2 billion would be paid to them in December 2019 and the rest in June 2020 and thereafter.

(vii)    On 3rd November 2019, four days before polling day, Co-Respondents No. 2 and 3 held a meeting with over 200 SCBG policyholders and BAML investors at Rabita Hall, explaining that the negotiations which were held during the past few days with the representatives of the Respondent no. 1 and Co-Respondent No. 1 had materialised in the said proposal.

(viii)    On the same day, Co-Respondent No. 1 publicly announced at the last ‘grand meeting’ held at Vacoas, 3 days before the General Elections, that they will continue to reimburse BAI victims by stating: “Ek nou pou kontign ranbours bann victim BAI.”

(ix)    On 4th November 2019, three days before the General Elections, lexpress.mu published an article on its webpage entitled: “Remboursement lié aux plans SCBG/ BAM: nouvelle proposition du GM” The details of the meeting held at Rabita Hall on 3rd November 2019 were made public and the position taken by the Respondent  No. 1 and Co-Respondent No. 1 at the meeting in Vacoas was also widely published. The reimbursement proposal was also published by Defimedia, Top FM, ION News, and the National TV station, the MBC.

(x)    On 12th November 2019, five days after the General Elections were held, lexpress.mu published an article on its webpage entitled: “Remboursement aux victimes de BAI: «Parole donnée, parole sacrée», dit Salim Muthy”. Co-Respondent No. 2 stated that the reimbursement proposal made a few days before Polling Day, had received the approval of Co-Respondent No. 1 and Co-Respondent No. 2 stated: “Il est au courant et il a donné son aval. Donc toutes les victims s’attendent à ce qu’il respecte son engagement dès décembre.”

11.    Your Petitioner further avers that he is advised and verily believes that a caretaker Government’s duties consist solely of performing the day to day administrative jobs and is not supposed to deal with policy functions, which may influence the elections results in its favour. During that period, it was the legitimate expectation of Your Petitioner that a caretaker government maintains a neutral status for ensuring a free and fair election.

12.    Your Petitioner also avers that the said bargaining and the negotiations and with the Co-Respondents No. 2 and 3 together with the promise to pay to the victims billions of rupees was a clear case of giving money to induce them to vote for the re-election of the “L’Alliance Morisien” candidates, which includes the Respondent No. 1, thereby amounting to bribery.

13.    Your Petitioner verily believes that the General Elections held on 7th November 2019 were not ‘free and fair’ as expected in any democratic society, the more so that the candidates who stood for those elections were certainly not at arm’s length between themselves.

14.    Your Petitioner further aver that the promises made by the Respondent No. 1 and “L’Alliance Morisien” a few days before Polling day, were not decisions made by Cabinet. In fact they contradicted Government policy and decisions which constitute an act of bribery, done for a corrupt purpose to induce voters to vote for the Respondent No. 1 and “L’Alliance Morisien”.

15.    Your Petitioner therefore prays that this Honourable Court for the reasons given above:

a)    To declare the election of the Respondent No. 1 invalid and order that the election of the Respondent No. 1 is null and void for having been obtained in breach of Sections 45(1)(a)(ii) and 64(1) of the Representation of People Act.

b)    To make such order or orders as the Honourable Court may deem fit and/or as justice of the case demands in the circumstances.

 

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