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Veekram Bhunjun’s Challenge To Quash Betamax Commission Of Inquiry Dismissed

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Betamax Ltd and its director sought permission from the Supreme Court to challenge the decision of the President of the Republic, Prithvirajsing Roopun, to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the Betamax case. The businessman also sought to freeze the work of the Commission of Inquiry while the Supreme Court ruled on the dispute.

On Wednesday 22 June 2022, before the Supreme Court, Justices Rita Teelock and Benjamin Marie Joseph dismissed their application for judicial review.

The application by Veekram Bhunjun and Betamax Ltd was led by the Attorney General (AG), the Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry, Justice Carol Green-Jokhoo, the two assessors, Telkraj Parbhunath and Kodados Mosafeer and the State. The Director of Public Prosecutions and the State Trading Corporation were named as co-defendants.

In a sworn affidavit, Veekram Bhunjun, in support of his claim, had stated that the State Trading Corporation and the Government of Mauritius had compensated Betamax on 22 June 2021 after a verdict of the Privy Council, which had ruled in favour of Betamax. The businessman had argued that the Commission of Inquiry is in danger of being held in contempt of court.

Vikram Bhunjun

Furthermore, according to the complainants, the decision to set up a Commission of Inquiry is illegal and in violation of Sections 1, 3 and 10 of the Constitution.

The Attorney General and the State had raised objections. They pointed out that the Betamax company director is not entitled to file this application for judicial review. They also argued that the plaintiffs’ action was wrongly directed against the State and the Attorney General, because it was the Council of Ministers that had taken the decision to set up the Commission of Inquiry.

Justices Rita Teelock and Benjamin Marie Joseph held in their judgment that there is no ‘arguable case’. They stated that the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry cannot be a contempt, as it cannot affect the enforcement of the arbitral award. And that its creation cannot obstruct the course of justice.

Here is the judgment in full: Bhunjun v AG & Others 2022 SCJ 219

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