The trial against notary Vinay Deelchand and his three associates, accused of having participated in a plot to burn down Anwar Toorabally's house in August 2000, will continue before the intermediate court. This is the decision of magistrate Anusha Rawoah, on June 27, 2024. She rejected the motion to stop the trial requested by the notary and his acolytes, for abuse of process.

“There are no such exceptional circumstances in the present case, warranting a stay of proceedings,” ruled Magistrate Anusha Rawoah. She rejected the motion to stay the trial requested by notary Vinay Deelchand and his three accomplices. Thus, she ordered that the trial continue. She reviewed the chronology of this trial.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) initiated a formal trial on July 16, 2008 against notary Vinay Deelchand (57 years old), Sandeep Appadoo (53 years old), Mahendra Chooneea (53 years old) and Dharmanen Sambon (42 years old). The latter are facing a charge of criminal conspiracy before the intermediate court. They are accused of having hatched a plot with Antoine Chetty to burn down Anwar Toorabally's house. The offense was committed on August 17, 2000, in Port Louis.

The notary and his acolytes were convicted in April 2015. And they were each released on bail of Rs 100,000. In addition, they had to demonstrate good behavior for three years. Otherwise, they would each serve three years in prison. After this verdict, they appealed their conviction. On December 1, 2017, on appeal, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial against them.

It is the end of this new trial that the notary Vinay Deelchand and his acolytes had demanded. Because, according to them, it constitutes an abuse of procedure. For the defendants' lawyers, their clients were not going to benefit from a fair trial after twenty-three years. The prosecution objected. All four men have pleaded not guilty in this case.

During the debates on the motion, notary Vinay Deelchand and Mahendra Choonea highlighted the professional and personal harm they have suffered as a result of the trial. They also added that their reputation has been tarnished.

Magistrate Anusha Rawoah notes that there was a delay of eight years to bring a case against the defendants. However, she said, there is nothing in the record to show that the actions and actions of the police are so serious that they undermine the rule of law. And nothing justifies a suspension of the procedure. For her, this delay will not affect the fairness of the trial either.

On the other hand, she argues that there is nothing in the minutes which shows that “the trial related delay has adversely affected the fairness of the trial, or that the prosecution has manipulated the process of the court”.

Concerning the transfer of magistrates by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, she maintains that it is a “power for and exercised under our Constitution, has inevitably been for administrative purposes”. She concludes that given that the trial was initiated in 2008, priority will be given to ensure that this trial is heard as quickly as possible. She rejected the motion to stop the defendants' trial for abuse of process.

The case is set against a backdrop of a land transaction. Anwar Toorabally had sold a piece of land to a resident of Terre-Rouge, but he had not received the full payment. The four men are suspected of having conspired with Antoine Chetty to set fire to Anwar Toorabally's home. The Molotov cocktail attack took place on August 17, 2000. Anwar Toorabally's house was spared, but his vehicle was set on fire.

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