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Procès en diffamation: Le Mauricien Ltd condamnée à payer  Rs 300 000 de dommages avec intérêts

Procès en diffamation: Le Mauricien Ltd condamnée à payer

Rs 300 000 de dommages avec intérêts

Jyoti’s Clinic Ltd a remporté sa bataille légale contre le Mauricien Ltée, Jacques Rivet et Gaëtan Seneque. Le juge A. Hamuth est parvenu à la conclusion, dans ce procès en diffamation, que “it is a fact that the headlines and unverified statements are highly defamatory.There was also a hasty, factually incorrect, misreporting of the essence of the tenor of what was said at the National Assembly”. Le groupe Le Mauricien Ltée est condamné à payer Rs 300 000 de dommages avec intérêts, même si les responsables de Jyoti’s Clinic Ltd réclamaient des dommages de Rs 10 millions.

Dans cette affaire, le juge a précisé en fin de jugement qu’il a été noté qu’une “mise au point’ was published by the defendant No. 1 on the 22nd November 2011, though such apologies were published in very small characters. I also take into consideration the decrease in the number of inpatients and outpatients at the Clinique du Nord following the publication of such article, although such decrease was only for the period December 2011 to June 2012, and not totally clearly probably resulting from the impugned articles.”

Ce procès fait suite à la publication le 17 novembre 2011 en Une du journal Le Mauricien d’un article lié à une réponse parlementaire. Le journal titrait “PNQ: Le mercantilisme médical mis à l’index….” avec une photo de la Clinique du Nord. Les responsables de cet établissement étaient d’avis que cet article publié en pages 6-7 – ‘La Clinique du Nord au centre de la controverse sur la liposuccion avec deux décès en 2006 et en 2010’ a porté atteinte à sa réputation et a affecté son business.

L’auteur avait indiqué que la clinique était responsable de deux décès en 2006 et en 2010 respectivement, une information qualifiée de “pack of lies”.

Les points de la défense s’établissaient comme suit:

“(a)N. V. did not die at the clinic nor was the clinic ‘le centre de controverse sur la liposuccion’ and it is also a blatant lie to say that two patients have died following treatment of liposuction at the clinic.

(b) The article wrongly published was meant to convey a clear message to members of the national and international public at large that the plaintiff was the black sheep in the field of private medecine and it was not a trustworthy and reliable institution.

(c) The doctor who had actually carried out the liposuction surgery was not the focus of attention of the article but instead the annotations under the two paragraphs in the newspaper which wrongly focused the attention of the readers to the clinic.

(d) All the attention about the risk of liposuction and the two deaths were directed to plaintiff’s clinic as if it was responsible for those deaths and the plaintiff averred that such practice is undoubtedly wrong, unprofessional, malicious and is an intentional act perpetrated with a view to causing prejudice to the name, fame and reputation of plaintiff which had been painstakingly nurtured over the years at great costs and sacrifice.

(e) The article clearly meant that the clinic had been guilty of malpractices and/or unprofessional conduct thus falling short of its duties and obligations in providing its services to liposuction patients and that the plaintiff and those involved in its management are likewise grossly negligent and imprudent in providing treatment at the clinic.

(f) The article clearly meant to inform members of the public, albeit wrongly and maliciously that the health and well-being of the patients at the clinic were sacrified on the altar of pure financial gains; professionalism in the field of private medecine in the eyes of the plaintiff was a dead letter; it was motivated by pure ‘mercantilisme’ in running the clinic; making money at the expense of the patients was the sole and only concern of the plaintiff in running the clinic.”

Les défendeurs ont, eux, avancés que cet article a été publié en toute bonne foi et n’est que la reproduction d’une PNQ du leader de l’Opposition à l’Assemblée nationale. “In their plea, the defendants have stated that they have faithfully and in good faith reproduced the PNQ of the Leader of the Opposition and the replies thereto at the National Assembly in respect of the surgical operations concerning liposuction. They have further stated that they published the proceedings of the debate relating to the said subject-matter as they usually do for most of the PNQs, and that the impugned article has not been disapproved by the Speaker of the National Assembly. It is their defence that they have published faithfully and in good faith a matter of public interest’’.

Plusieurs autres personnes, allant de Neela Devi Ramtohul, Office Management Assistant de l’Assemblée nationale, Kiran Boykunt, réceptionniste de la Clinique du Nord et le Dr Mukesh Sooknundun, représentant de la Clinique ont déposé.

Après avoir passé en revue tous les principes de droit en matière de diffamation et en prenant en considération des jugements précédents et les preuves présentées par le plaignant, le juge a conclu que “the defendants’ plea of a faithful reproduction of the debates at the National Assembly fails in that they have, in presumed and unrebutted bad faith, reported facts which are not true under the photographs when what is narrated in the body of the article proves the footage of the photographs to be untrue regarding the place of the two deaths which occured at the Victoria Hospital, albeit following the liposuction treatments by the deceaseds’ own doctors at the plaintiff’s Clinique du Nord. The articles had also been unfairly and hastily published on the very date of the debates on the subject at the National Assembly without proper enquiry, and occulting the then Leader of the Opposition’s observation that it was difficult to establish any nexus between the liposuction and the cause of the deaths. The defendants are therefore at fault and are liable to pay damages to the plaintiff.”