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Decision in police promotion case likely by June 18 – Chief Justice George

Chief Justice Roxane George, SC on Monday morning indicated that her ruling in the case challenging the Police 2020 promotion that was made by the Police Service Commission (PSC) is now likely by June 18, 2021. At the last hearing in the matter on April 9, 2021,  Justice George had fixed today for ruling and/or clarification.

However, when the case was called this morning via Zoom, lawyers for several senior Police ranks who mounted the challenge said they had filed further submissions. As such, the Chief Justice granted Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, who is a respondent in the case, leave to reply. The matter comes up again on June 18, 2021, at 13: 30h for ruling and/or clarification.

In the meantime, Justice George has granted a conservatory order halting the promotions until she pronounces on the matter. At previous hearings, the Court was told that the Attorney General was in talks with the Chairman of the PSC, Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Slowe, and the aggrieved Police officers about the possibility of settling the matter outside of the judicial system. However, this was futile.

Back in December 2020, Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Brutus was the first to challenge the promotions that were made by the PSC. Now, several other senior Police officers have been added as interested parties. 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.

However, he pointed out that although several other officers have pending matters, they were promoted by the PSC.  Brutus said that he is better qualified 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).