A group of 30 police sergeants have successfully applied to have an injunction barring all promotions to the rank of Inspector, obtained by a group of their colleagues, lifted.
According to court documents filed last week and obtained by Guardian Media, the group was seeking to be added to their colleagues’ pending case and to have their injunction lifted or varied so that they can be promoted while their colleagues continue their legal action.
The dispute arose late last year, as the Promotion Advisory Board held interviews with candidates and prepared a merit list for promotions. A group of 29 police officers, led by Police Social and Welfare Association Secretary Sgt Ancil Forde, filed an application for leave to pursue a judicial review lawsuit over the promotion exercise as they claimed that there were several anomalies with a new proportional point system introduced by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith for the examination segment.
They were granted an injunction blocking all promotions by High Court Judge Betsey Ann Lambert-Peterson, which was extended by High Court Judge Robin Mohammed. After the application by the second group was filed, Justice Mohammed added the second group as an interested party and deemed their application fit for urgent hearing.
Following a virtual hearing, yesterday afternoon, Justice Mohammed refused the first group leave to pursue their lawsuit and lifted the injunction they were previously granted. In the court filings, the second group’s attorneys led by Senior Counsel Anand Ramlogan, noted that the lawsuit was without merit as the Police Commissioner is permitted under the Constitution to make the changes to the promotion procedure complained about.
“Given that more than six months have elapsed since the application for leave was filed, the prejudice and detriment to the Applicants/Proposed Interested Parties who have acquired vested rights to promotion based on their position on the Order of Merit List has worsened considerably,” they said. They said that their clients were concerned that the merit list would expire in December without them being promoted and that they would have to participate in a lengthy promotion procedure once again. They admitted that Griffith is empowered to extend the list by a year but there is no guarantee that he would exercise his discretion to do so.
“This has obvious implications for the gratuity, pension and retirement benefits for these officers and adverse consequences and implications for their standard of living post-retirement,” they added.
The injunction was mentioned by Griffith last week in a lengthy open letter to all police officers on promotions. Griffith was allegedly responding to a complaint by Forde, over the Promotion Advisory Board not being properly constituted. He claimed that the issue with the board was with a member put forward previously by the Ministry of National Security. Griffith claimed that he only received an objection to the member from the ministry in March after the process was complete. Griffith accused Forde of using the association to pursue a personal crusade as he claimed that he (Forde) had placed low on the merit list and was unlikely to be promoted in the near future.
“It appears to me, therefore, that his (Forde) motivation and desperation to now file an action and spread discord about the said promotion process he so eagerly accepted when he was last promoted to sergeant, is simply about ensuring that if he doesn’t have his way no one else will,” Griffith said.
The second group of officers were also represented by Renuka Rambhajan, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Alana Rambaran, Ganesh Saroop and Natasha Bisram.