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Decision Of The MIE To Appoint A Lecturer In 2017 Quashed By A Judicial Review

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On 11 August 2021, through a Judicial Review initiated by Mr. Jaunky, the Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Mauritius Institute of Education (“MIE”) to appoint Mrs. Cooshna to the post of a lecturer in Economics. The Judgment was delivered by the Senior Puisne Judge Mungly-Gulbul and Judge Maghooa.

The matter started back in 2017 when MIE invited applications for the post of lecturer in Economics. Mrs. Cooshna, Mr. Jaunky and a third person were interviewed for the post, following which Mrs. Cooshna was appointed. On 16 April 2017, the decision of the MIE was approved by the Ministry of Education and Human resources and Tertiary Education and Scientific Research.

Mr. Jaunky applied to the Supreme Court for leave for judicial review on the basis that the decision was ‘unfair and unreasonable’ and was a breach of his legitimate expectation. The leave was obtained in May 2019.

Being a Judicial Review case, the court was tasked with the review of the decision process and thus, consider whether the decision to appoint Mrs. Cooshna was unreasonable in the Wednesbury sense, i.e., “the decision is so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person, who had applied his mind to the question to be decided, could have arrived at it.”

In its assessment of the appointment decision, the Court has considered the qualifications and experience of both applicants. It was then found that there are indeed disproportionate differences in their respective qualifications and experiences.

On one hand, Mrs. Cooshna has a Degree in Economics and a Masters in Economics. She worked as an educator in a private secondary college for 9 months, taught economics for Grade 9 to Grade 10 and worked with the Competition Commission. She has completed 4 modules in Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (“PGCE”) as part of her pedagogical qualifications.

The MIE initially supported its decision on the basis that Mrs. Cooshna is more qualified as she completed 2 years Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Administration awarded by the Symbiosis Centre for Distance Learning, Pune, India. However, it was shown that the institution is not recognized by the Tertiary Education Commission. The MIE further argued that Mrs. Cooshna had more appropriate qualification as she has completed the four modules for the PGCE.

For his part, Mr. Jaunky was holder of a PhD in Economics in addition to an MSc and BSc. He has been a lecturer for many years at various universities such as the University of Mauritius (‘UoM’) and the University Technology of Mauritius (‘UTM’); and as a teaching assistant during his Post-Doctorate at the Centre for Energy Policy & Economics in Zurich and at the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden. For the present, Mr. Jaunky is visiting faculty at UoM, UTM, Open University and Charles Telfair Institute. In terms of Pedagogical Qualifications, he is a holder of a module entitled “Academic induction Module”.

Other criteria that have been considered by the Court were the duties that a lecturer has to perform as per the scheme of service of the MIE. These included ‘research and other studies’, ‘supervision of student’s work and teaching practice’ and ‘curriculum reform and development’ among others. As per the records made available to the Court, Mr. Jaunky has more experience in all the categories. He published more than 30 research papers, helped to develop BA (Hons) Economics and Law at UoM in 2009 and was the coordinator for several programmes at the respective universities, just to mention a few. In contrast, the records of Mrs. Cooshna showed that she has only completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Administration. However, this experience has not been considered as the awarding institution is not recognized in Mauritius.

After considering the above, the judges were of the opinion that the facts spoke for themselves. They stated that “an examination of the respective experience of Mr. Jaunky and Mrs. Cooshna to meet the requirements of the criteria prescribed by the MIE confirms the manifest unreasonableness of the MIE’s decision in selecting and appointing Mrs. Cooshna to the post.”

In the opinion of the judges, there were no such indication that could justify the assessment made on the suitability of the candidates. They were satisfied that the decision was “so outrageous in its defiance of logic.” The Supreme Court, accordingly, quashed the decision of appointing Mrs. Cooshna as an Economics lecturer by the MIE.

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