La Cour suprême rejette la demande de Roshi Bhadain qui voulait avoir recours au Conseil privé…

by | Jul 8, 2021 | Opinion, Politique

Mercredi dernier (30 juin 2021), la Cour suprême a rejeté une demande du leader du Reform Party, Roshi Bhadain. Ce dernier voulait avoir recours au Conseil privé afin de contester en appel le rejet de sa contestation des résultats des élections générales de 2019 dans les vingt circonscriptions.

En effet, Roshi Bhadain voulait se rendre au Privy Council afin de contester en appel, un jugement de la Cour suprême en date du 20 octobre 2020. Le jugement avait rejeté sa demande de révision judiciaire, visant à faire annuler l’ensemble des résultats des législatives du 7 novembre 2019 dans toutes les circonscriptions de l’île.

Or dans sa demande, le leader du Reform Party avait soutenu que son recours au Conseil privé porte sur des questions relatives à l’interprétation de la Constitution. D’autre part, il avait aussi invoqué l’importance générale et publique de son recours au ‘Privy Council’.

Dans son jugement en date du 20 octobre 2020, la Cour suprême avait statué que la demande de Roshi Bhadain, via une révision judiciaire, était une pétition électorale déguisée. L’instance avait soutenu qu’elle ne pouvait pas ainsi l’autoriser à contourner les règles pour contester une élection en choisissant la procédure à être adoptée.

Les juges Nirmala Devat et Iqbal Maghooa, ont souligné, dans leur décision (mercredi 30 juin 2021) qu’ils ne sont pas disposés à le laisser aller de l’avant alors qu’il ne s’agit pas d’une affaire d’interprétation de la Constitution mais de son application. Les juges n’ont pas été persuadé que le présent recours relève d’une question qui devrait être soumise au Conseil privé.
Ils ont aussi ajouté que certains des points d’appel proposés ne sont pas même pas des motifs d’appel approprié. Cela dans la mesure où ils ne font que citer les conclusions de la Cour suprême et en affirmant simplement que la Cour suprême a commis une erreur en faisant de telles conclusions sans rien de plus.
En se basant sur la pétition électorale et l’appel de Roshi Bhadain, les juges expliquent ainsi que :

“We reiterate that the Supreme Court found that the applicant’s complaints in support of his application for leave to apply for Judicial review fell within the ambit of an election petition; that the ultimate remedy sought by the applicant, if granted, would have had for effect to invalidate the results of the 2019 General Election which would have in turn impacted on the election of the returned candidates in the 21 Constituencies; and that the applicant could not be allowed to have recourse to the parallel remedy of judicial review to contest the 2019 General Election on grounds which the Supreme Court found were essentially electoral petition grounds; and that the applicant should not be encouraged to forum shop or enter parallel proceedings with a view to usurp the functions of an electoral court. The Supreme Court added that judicial review remedy is not only quite distinct from an electoral petition but is also a remedy of last resort when all alternative remedies have been exhausted. The Supreme Court held that the applicant could not substitute some other form of redress to the specific form of redress which the legislator has deemed it fit to provide in the Constitution and in the Representation of the People Act.

The Supreme Court went on to add that it was being asked to decide on affidavit evidence election matters which would have required the calling of witnesses to give evidence which would have in turn necessitated an assessment of the credibility of these witnesses and to eventually make a finding of facts.
For all these reasons, the Supreme Court concluded that the applicant’s complaints were matters which could not be canvassed and decided in a judicial review application but which on the other hand were fit to be discussed in an electoral petition.

We endorse the submissions of learned Counsel for respondent no. 2 to the effect that “allowing a course of action seeking, by way of a collateral attack, in a judicial review, the invalidation of general election results, is more likely to set an evil precedent for the future and divert the due and orderly administration of the law into a new course (…) whilst totalling disregarding the safeguards provided (…) in the Representation of the People Act.” We also agree with her that in deciding whether or not to grant leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee, the Court “also has to be alive to the fact that in matters concerning general elections, the public interest involved in having a measure of certainty as soon as may be in the composition and proper functioning of such an important public institution as the Legislative Assembly cannot be understated” and that “such public interest cannot be compromised by any court action entered on erroneous premises without following the applicable legal provisions which Parliament itself has prescribed in pursuance of section 37 of the Constitution.”
“For all the above reasons, we have not been persuaded that the appeal raises any question which “by reason of its great general or public importance or otherwise, ought to be submitted to the Judicial Committee”. In fact, the proposed grounds of appeal merely seek to challenge the findings of the Supreme Court whereas it is well settled that the Judicial Committee does not sit as a court of appeal. Moreover, some of the proposed grounds are not even proper grounds of appeal in that they merely recite the findings of the Supreme Court and merely aver that the Supreme Court erred in making such findings without anything more (vide grounds 6 to 10). Leave is accordingly refused and the application is set aside, with costs”.
Ainsi, la décision de la Cour suprême a été de rejeter la demande du leader du Reform Party.

Notons que Roshi Bhadain avait présenté dix points d’appel, tous ont été rejetés. Il avait argué, entre autres, que son appel «involves issues relating to the interpretation of the Constitution». Mais les juges ne sont pas de cet avis.

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