The Supreme Court is composed of the Chief Justice, the Senior Puisne Judge and such number of Puisne Judges as may be prescribed by Parliament. Presently, there are 17 Puisne Judges. (Section. 76(2) of the Constitution).
The Chief Justice is appointed by the President acting after consultation with the Prime Minister, the Senior Puisne Judge by the President acting in accordance with the advice of Chief Justice and the Puisne Judges by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal service Commission. (Section. 77 of the Constitution).
No person shall be qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court unless he is, and has been for at least 5 years, a barrister entitled to practise before the Supreme Court. (Section 77(4) of the Constitution).
Tenure of office
A judge of the Supreme Court holds office until retirement at the age of 62. A judge may be removed from office for inability to perform the functions of his office or for misbehaviour. He shall be removed from office by the President where the question of removal has been referred to the Judicial Committee which has advised accordingly (Section 78 of the Constitution).
The Supreme Court has unlimited jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law other than a disciplinary law and such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred upon it by the Constitution or any other law. (Section 76(1) of the Constitution). It is a superior court of record (Section 15 of the Courts Act). It is the principal court of original civil and criminal jurisdictions. It exercises general powers of supervision over all District, Intermediate and Industrial Courts and other special courts (Sections 34 and 38 of the Courts Act and section 82 of the Constitution).
The Supreme Court is also a Court of Equity vested with powers, authority, and jurisdiction to administer justice and to do all acts for the due execution of such equitable jurisdiction, in all cases where no legal remedy is provided by any enactment. (section 16 of the Courts Act).
Section 83 of the Constitution provides that the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in the interpretation of the Constitution.And where a question as to the interpretation of the Constitution arises in any Court established for Mauritius (other than the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, or a Court Martial) and the Court is of the opinion that the question involved a substantial question of law, the Court shall refer the matter to the Supreme Court. (Section 84 of the Constitution).
The Supreme Court has power and jurisdiction to hear and determine any complaint of a disciplinary nature in respect of the professional conduct of a law practitioner or a ministerial officer including a land surveyor.
Judge in chambers
Section 71 of the Courts Act sets out the matters which may be disposed of by the Judge sitting in Chambers.
A judge may, whether in term or in vacation, grant an injunction subject to a motion to the Court to set aside the injunction.
A Judge in Chambers is empowered to hear an application for a rule or summons to show cause. (Section 74 of the Courts Act).
The Supreme Court has full power and jurisdiction to hear and determine all appeals, whether civil or criminal, made to the Court from:-
- a judge in the exercise of his original jurisdiction;
- the Bankruptcy Division;
- the Master and Registrar;
- the Intermediate Court;
- the Industrial Court;
- a Magistrate;
- any other court or body established under any other enactment
(Section 69 of the Courts Act).
Appeals are heard before at least 2 judges (Section. 70 of the Courts Act).
The Court of Civil Appeal
The Court of Civil Appeal is a division of the Supreme Court and is composed of the Judges of the Supreme Court presided by the Chief Justice or the Senior Puisne Judge (Section 80 of the Constitution and Section 2 of the Court of Civil appeal Act).
Any party may appeal against a judgment or order of a Judge sitting alone in the exercise of his original civil jurisdiction. Such appeals are governed by the Court of Civil Appeal Act.
The Court of Criminal Appeal
The Court of Criminal Appeal is a division of the Supreme Court and is duly constituted by 3 judges presided over by the Chief Justice or the Senior Puisne Judge (Section 80 of the Constitution). A person convicted before the Supreme Court may appeal under the Criminal Appeal Act against his conviction or sentence.
The Bankruptcy Division
The Bankruptcy Division is a division of the Supreme Court. It has jurisdiction relating to all matters of bankruptcy, insolvency or the winding up of companies. The said jurisdiction is vested in and is exercised by the Master and Registrar concurrently with the Judges ( Section. 62 of the Courts Act).
The constitution, procedure and powers of the Bankruptcy Division are set out at Part VI of the Bankruptcy Act. Any person may within 21 days of the decision, appeal to the Supreme Court, against a judgment or order of the Bankruptcy division (Section. 104 of the Bankruptcy Act).
Master and Registrar
The Master and Registrar is an officer of the Supreme Court and shall be a barrister of at least 5 years standing. His duties consist in the taxing of costs, to conduct and manage judicial sales, probate of wills and the matters connected therewith, interdictions and local examinations and to deal with matters of audit, inquiry, and accounts and generally, all such matters as may be referred to him by the Chief Justice or the Judges. ( Section 19 of the Courts Act).
Deputy Master and Registrar
There is a Deputy Master and Registrar who shall have all the powers of the Master and Registrar and Judge in Bankruptcy.