Seychelles’ Supreme Court refers case between President, speaker on salary dispute to Constitutional Court
Palais de Justice building which houses the Supreme Court. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles’ Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the case brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly will be referred to the Constitutional Court.
The case is in relation to a disagreement between the government and the National Assembly concerning a salary increase for government employees.
President Faure, in his capacity as Minister responsible for Public Administration, filed a case requesting that the Court exercise supervisory jurisdiction in relation to the quashing by the National Assembly of S.I. 18 of 2019.
In his ruling, the presiding judge, Melchior Vidot, said that as the case is a constitutional issue since it pits the Seychelles’ executive branch against the legislative, he would refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.
President Faure filed the case on April 12, over a disagreement concerning a salary increase for government employees.
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 objected and said the budgeted amount should be shared equally with employees who qualify to get the same amount of increase. In a special sitting, the opposition members voted to quash the regulation brought as a Statutory Instrument (S.I), a form of delegated legislation which may allow the government to bypass the parliament.
Faure’s legal team made two applications to the Supreme Court - that the case be heard as a matter of urgency and an application for leave.
The legal team of Nicholas Prea, the Speaker of the National Assembly, did not object to the first application that the case is heard as a matter of urgency.
However, lawyer Joel Camille objected to the Application for Leave on four grounds. He challenged the fact that the petitioner (the executive) had attached uncertified documents such as order papers to the petition, which he claimed was grounds for non-compliance.
Camille also challenged the affidavit of the chief secretary of public administration, Jessie Esparon, claiming it to be defective, bad in law and unreliable.
When giving his ruling on Friday, Justice Vidot said the grounds for objections did not stand and ordered the respondent’s team to submit all documents from the National Assembly related to the S.I. in a week’s time.
Vidot said that because of the Constitutional issue, where “there was a doctrine of separation of powers” he would not hear the case until the matter is heard by the Constitutional Court.
“If this case proceeds, it may directly or indirectly affect our Constitution and the doctrine of the separation of powers,” he said.
Seychelles has three branches of government, the executive, legislative and judiciary.