Constitutional Showdown

13 septembre 2023, 10:43


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Fifty-five years after gaining Independence from Britain, two King’s Counsels will face off in our Supreme Court: Paul Ozin, representing the police commissioner, and Geoffrey Cox, representing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). They’re set to address an unprecedented constitutional challenge over the powers vested in their respective roles, as outlined in Articles 71 and 72 of the Constitution.

Rashid Ahmine has primarily enlisted a former Attorney General, Cox, to defend against perceived challenges from the police commissioner. Ahmine contends, in response to Anil Kumar Dip’s constitutional complaint, “The police commissioner is intentionally undermining the DPP’s office, compromising the criminal justice system’s integrity.” Meanwhile, Dip argues that by shifting their legal roles, the DPP and his officers are using court appearances to make decisions that don’t align with their client’s views.

The constitutional disagreement, while costly in pounds, seems to also be about settling personal scores. Ahmine is challenging decisions concerning Dip’s son. King’s Counsels, with their high hourly rates, come at a much steeper price than attorneys who previously represented the police commissioner on a pro bono basis. So who’s covering the expenses for these top-tier British lawyers? Taxpayers.

Behind the scenes, Anil Kumar Dip is backed by attorney Shamila Sonah-Ori, known for her ties to the Jugnauth family, and lawyers Désire Basset and Ravind Chetty, who are aligned with the current government. Ahmine’s background also reveals a controversial Prosecution Commission and attempts to remove his predecessor, Satayajit Boolell, from his post.

The stakes are high. With the police commissioner attempting to circumvent the DPP regarding two major drug cases, and the ambiguous ties between certain private attorneys and their clients now under police scrutiny, doubts and concerns over the rule of law intensify. This poses a crucial question: if the DPP is sidelined by Anil Kumar Dip, who will oversee our police? This seems eerily reminiscent of a past effort to curtail the DPP’s authority through a Prosecution Commission, which, fortunately, was thwarted by the PMSD’s exit from the Alliance Lepep in December 2016.

Who will ensure our police act appropriately? The Police Complaints Bureau? The ICAC? The Human Rights Commission? Past instances have shown these bodies’ limitations. We need an external platform to report police misdeeds. With today’s technology, it’s easy to capture and share police misbehaviour, though it’s essential to remember that these actions don’t represent all officers, many of whom maintain their profession’s integrity.