Court in Seychelles rules on issue of 5 percent salary raise in cases pitting President against Speaker

The Seychelles’ Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled on two petitions brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea.

The petitions were in relation to the annulment by the National Assembly of a regulation which makes provision for a five percent increase for government employees.

In the first petition, Faure, in his capacity as Minister Responsible for Public Administration had filed a case requesting that the Supreme Court exercise supervisory jurisdiction in relation to the National Assembly’s quashing of the Statutory Instrument — S.I. 18 of 2019 — which would have allowed the government’s implementation of the raise.

The Supreme Court had referred the case to the Constitutional Court saying it was a constitutional issue as it pitted the Seychelles’ executive branch against the legislative.

The Constitutional Court comprising of Justices Ronny Govinden, Laura Pillay and Gustave Dodin said the question the court addressed was whether a Supreme Court Judge alone can determine the action of the Legislative branch of the Government.

When giving the ruling, Govinden the presiding judge, said a Supreme Court judge may sitting alone, determine the lawfulness of the action of the National Assembly in certain circumstances and subject to certain conditions set out in this judgment. However, on the specific facts of this case, the Supreme Court sitting alone cannot determine the lawfulness of the act of the National Assembly.

In the second petition which was filed in the Constitutional Court, Faure was requesting the Constitutional Court to rule on whether the National Assembly interfered with his constitutional rights when it annulled the SI 18 2019.

The lawyer of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Joel Camille, had brought five main objections against this petition.

Camille had argued that the petition has been wrongly suited and rather than bringing a case against Nicholas Prea in his capacity as Speaker, the petitioner should have instead brought it against the National Assembly as an institution.

He also claimed there has been an abuse of process by the petitioner since his lawyers had already filed a similar petition for judicial review in the Supreme Court.

Another point raised by Camille was that the affidavit, written by the chief secretary for public administration Jessie Esparon, attached to the petition, was defective, bad in law and unreliable.

The Constitutional Court dismissed all the five objections made by Prea’s lawyer which means the petition stands.

Speaking to SNA, Faure’s legal counsel, Alexandra Madeleine, said she will speak to her client before making any statements on the ruling in the first petition.

Camille, who was not available for comment, will now present his arguments with regards to the ruling in the second petition on October 1.

It is the first time in the history of the third republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, that a Speaker is being held accountable for the decision taken by the National Assembly.

On March 19, the government presented the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019 to the National Assembly for approval. The bill included a five percent increase across the board for government workers.

The opposition members in the National Assembly who objected said the budgeted amount should be shared equally with employees who qualify to get the same amount. They, therefore, quashed the regulation brought as a Statutory Instrument (S.I).

The S.I is a form of delegated legislation which may allow the government to bypass the parliament.

Source: Seychelles News Agency