No progress in resolving Police 2020 promotion controversy- Chief Justice hears

Despite efforts to resolve the issues surrounding the Police 2020 senior promotions outside of the court, no progress has been made. This was reported to Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, on Wednesday by Deputy Solicitor General Deborah Kumar in the cases where several senior Police ranks are asking the court for an Order of Certiorari quashing, as unlawful the promotion of several of their colleagues.

In light of this, the Chief Justice instructed the respective matters to file submissions in the matter. The court will entertain oral arguments on April 09, 2021. At a January 12, 2021, court hearing, Attorney General Anil Nandlall had informed that he was engaging the PSC and several senior Police ranks in an effort of resolving the issue outside of the court.

Senior Superintendent of Police Calvin Brutus was the first to challenge the promotions in the court. Now, several other senior Police ranks 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 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 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.

In the meantime, Justice George has granted a conservatory order halting the promotions until she pronounces on the matter, or until a resolution favourable to all parties is met. The aggrieved officers have vowed to go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

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.