Le verdict tant attendu par l’opposition est tombé à 16 heures au Privy Council. Cette instance a rejeté l’appel interjeté par Suren Duyal, député du Parti travailliste, qui contestait l’élection de Pravind Jugnauth, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun et Yogida Sawmynaden dans la circonscription No 8 (Quartier-Militaire/Moka) lors des élections générales du 7 novembre 2019. Les trois députés n’étaient pas coupables de corruption ou de faveurs électorales.
«C’est une grande victoire pour la démocratie. La victoire de la vérité sur le mensonge », a ainsi qualifié Pravind Jugnauth après le jugement du Privy Council, devant ses partisans au Sun Trust Building.
Le candidat travailliste battu réclamait l’invalidation « of the election of three of his political opponents on grounds of bribery, treating and undue influence for the purpose of sections 64 and 65 of the Representation of the People Act 1958 (Mauritius) (“the Act”). Sa pétition électorale sous la section 45 avait été rejetée par la Cour suprême le 12 août 2022. Suren Dayal a tenté de renverser sans succès le verdict des juges Mr David Chan Kan Cheong and Mrs Karuna Devi Gunesh-Balaghee.
Le député du Parti travailliste était d’avis que la Cour suprême « was wrong in law » en rejetant ses deux points : (i) That promises made by Mr Jugnauth in October 2019 to increase the basic retirement pension (“BRP”), to accelerate forms of public sector pay and terms, and to pay one-off performance bonuses to police officers, firemen and prison officers constituted bribery (grounds 1 and 3); (ii) That the provision of free food and drink at an event on 1 October 2019 organised by the Ministry of Social Security (“MSS”) constituted treating (ground 2).
Pour rappel, Pravind Jugnauth, qui était Premier ministre, avait annoncé le 1er octobre 2019, lors d’un rassemblement marquant la United Nations International Day of Older Persons que la pension de vieillesse passera de Rs 6210 à Rs 13500 si son gouvernement est élu.
Le discours tenu par le Premier ministre est mentionné dans l’affaire. Pravind Jugnauth avait déclaré que :“My colleague, Ivan Collendavelloo, Deputy Prime Minister, all colleagues, ministers PPS, members of the National Assembly, members of the diplomatic corps, the Lord Mayor of the City of Port Louis, the president and all the members of the Senior Citizen Council, all distinguished guests and all elders who are here…
For our elders what we have done, and you know I have already said it in the past, I had wished that we could make the pension come at the same level with the minimum salary ie Rs 9,000. And you know, I must remind you 2014, the old age pension was 3,623 rupees and we had promised as soon as we come in power we will increase it to Rs 5,000. We kept our promise. Others were saying it could not be done, it would not be done, we kept our promise, we brought it to Rs 5,000 and the government is working. We have reached almost 5 years and we did not get any problem. On the contrary, we have improved year after year, we have further and after January you will receive a pension of 6,710 monthly. I must say, I heard the President’s speech, he said, well I agree with many things which he said but there are things which I do not agree, he said “do not touch our pension”. But I can’t do that, unfortunately for him, I can tell you that in our next mandate, next government we will double your pension, we will bring it to Rs 13,500. Now just imagine, may be among you there are surely two elders in your home, two elders, look how many are raising their hands. Two elders in a house who are over 60 years old, that will make Rs 27,000 which you will receive every month. Therefore let me tell you, you know my undertaking, you know when I give my words as we had given our word in 2014. Some people had said it cannot be, we cannot make it. We increased year by year. This is my undertaking. Rs 13,500 during our next mandate. Therefore let me finish, let me finish, I am going to tell you a very important thing…I will look after your grandchildren, your children like my children. I will take care of women, girls…I will take care of all workers in order to be able to give consideration they need in our society…we must especially look after people at the bottom of the ladder. I am already doing it, you can rely on me for the future and for our elders what I have already said I have absolutely no doubt, you know I am a man of my word, we will keep our promise and together we move, hand in hand so that progress can be continued because together everything is possible, thank you.”
Les Law Lords David Lloyd-Jones, Philip James Sales, Nicholas Archibald Hamblen, Sir Ben Stephens et Lady Dame Sue Lascelles Carr ont rejeté les arguments de Suren Dayal et ont conclu que:
(i) The proposals were made in open and public, allowing criticism and debate;
(ii) The proposals had been the subject of prior political debate, and carried transparent underlying reasoning;
(iii) The BRP and PRB Report proposals related to manifesto pledges;
(iv) The proposals related to important and sensitive topics of public interest;
(v) The subject-matter of the proposals was also the subject of proposals by other candidates or political parties;
(vi) The proposals were generic/of nationwide impact, not limited to members of the constituency;
(vii) There were several weeks between the proposals and polling day, and over a month between the SCIVV event and polling day.
(viii) The proposed benefit was not contingent on particular individuals voting in a certain way;
(ix) There was no quid pro quo and/or element of bargaining between candidate and voter;
(x) There was no question of private funding behind the proposals;
(xi) Implementation of the proposal was contingent on future (potentially uncertain) political events, including parliamentary vote;
(xii) There was no finding that the proposals were unreasonable or that they carried any element of deception and/or extreme exaggeration.
Le gouvernement Jugnauth peut donc continuer à diriger le pays alors que l’opposition doit maintenant chercher d’autres moyens pour tenter de reprendre le pouvoir.