The NGO mru2025 suffered a setback in the Supreme Court. The request for judicial review that she had filed in October 2021 was rejected on May 17, 2024. This request, filed by the NGO accompanied by Yan Hookoomsing, Carina Gounden and Moonsamy Gounden, aimed to challenge the decision of the District Council of Savanne to issue a building permit to West Coast Leisure Ltd – an entity affiliated with the HYVEC group – for a hotel project in Bel-Ombre.

The Supreme Court recognized that mru2025 had presented an “arguable case,” but rejected the application for late filing. The NGO and the citizens involved in the defense of Beau-Champ beach certainly lost the case. But this judgment considerably strengthens the legal power of civil society to act for the protection of the environment.

“Today, we are suffering a bitter setback in our fight to save one of the last preserved beaches in Mauritius,” mru2025 said in a press release issued on Friday. “Despite our disappointment with the decision rendered, it is essential to highlight the significant progress made with this file in the field of environmental law in Mauritius,” it is underlined.

The court decision, handed down by judges Iqbal Maghooa and Gaitree Jagessur-Manna, recognized the legitimacy of the NGO and the citizens to take such legal action. “The Supreme Court recognized that we did indeed have a case that was arguable, but more importantly that our NGO, mru2025, and the three citizens acting on their behalf had the full legal right to bring such legal action (locus standi)” , indicates the NGO, which had the pro bono support of lawyers Louis Eric Ribot and Preetam Dhuncoowar Lallah.

She adds that this is a first in terms of challenges to the Building and Land Use Permit. According to mru2025, this represents a significant step forward for environmental law in Mauritius. This judgment therefore strengthens the powers of citizens in contesting development projects that could be detrimental to the environment.

Case law

Until now, a citizen had to prove that he had a direct interest in the project to be able to contest a project in court or before the appropriate authorities. From now on, this will no longer be the case. “This is a judgment that will set a precedent. Tomorrow will no longer be the same,” points out the NGO.
The judgment states: “A personal interest need not be demonstrated if the individual is acting in the public interest and can credibly say that the matter directly affects the part of the public they seek to represent. »

The judges added that they bear in mind the observation made by the Privy Council: “where an application for judicial review involves environmental matters, it is not necessary for the applicant to demonstrate expertise in the relevant area . It is enough that he demonstrates some knowledge or concern for the subject. »

Despite this setback, mru2025 is already preparing for the battles to come. The NGO says it is “determined to protect the last stretches of fragile coastline and to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly development”.

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