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GPF court promotion drama…decision again pushed back

Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, on Friday sought clarification on several issues regarding an application for several orders and declarations against the Police Service Commission (PSC) in light of its alleged refusal to promote several senior officers.

A ruling will now be rendered in the case on June 28, at 1:30 pm.

The case was filed by Senior Superintendent Calvin Brutus who complains that he is being overlooked for promotion to Assistant Commissioner, even though he has been recommended by the Commissioner of Police, and because of frivolous disciplinary allegations against him.

With Brutus having filed the initial challenge against the promotions made in 2020 by the PSC, several other senior officers have now been added as interested parties in the case.

Among other things, Brutus, through his lawyer C.V. Satram, is asking the High Court for a declaration that the policy of the PSC not to promote or consider for promotion ranks with disciplinary matters is irrational and unlawful.

During a further hearing on Friday, Satram requested leave to introduce new evidence- the final promotion list by the PSC.

“As I understand, in the defence of the PSC, they are saying that our application is premature because they never took any decision to promote Mr. Brutus for example.”

The lawyer submitted, however, that statements made by the now-suspended Chairman of the PSC Retired Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe “confirmed that there was a decision taken to promote Mr. Brutus and a list was finalised to the contrary.

Asked by the Chief Justice whether this was the confirmed promotion, Satram said, “This is the list we got; this is the final list.

The evidence we seek to introduce will confirm it is the final list. There was a final list, whether this is that final list, is a separate question. The PSC of course can confirm that, but they have refused to do so.”

Justice George, in reply, said that a party in the matter said the list was leaked. Satram conceded that he could not say whether this was the confirmed list.

Addressing the declarations and orders being sought by Brutus against the PSC, Justice described them as “very wide in breadth.”

The Chief Justice went on to ask Satram, if the court can decide without any further evidence, what disciplinary matters are serious or minor.

But Satram, in reply, said that this was not the problem, but rather the PSC’s “blanket policy” of not promotion ranks with pending disciplinary matters.

In court documents seen by this publication, Brutus complains that he is being overlooked for promotion to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police, even though he was recommended for promotion by the Commissioner of Police.

He claims, too,  that he is being bypassed for promotion owing to frivolous allegations of indiscipline levelled against him for which he has not been given a chance to defend himself.

According to him, it has been a practice for the PSC not to promote Police officers with pending disciplinary complaints regardless of the nature or seriousness of such complaints.

“Trivial and unsubstantiated complaints have been accorded the same weight as grave or serious allegations of indiscipline in denying promotion to those against whom disciplinary complaints have been lodged with the Commission,” he noted in court documents.

Brutus pointed out that although several other officers have pending matters, that are more serious than his, they were promoted by the PSC.  Brutus said, too, that he is better qualified academically than his colleagues who were promoted over him.

“It was an abuse of power and/or an improper exercise of the powers for the PSC to ignore the recommendations of the Commissioner of Police and its own established practice. The difference in treatment of ranks who found themselves in the same grouping was substantially and fundamentally unfair, unreasonable, unequal, and discriminatory,” Brutus argues.

By Article 212 of the Constitution, the PSC has the power to promote police ranks above the rank of Inspector.

It also has the authority to exercise disciplinary control over ranks holding or acting in such offices.

The aggrieved officers have vowed to go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).