A HIGH Court judge has given permission to two commissioned officers of the Defence Force to file a judicial review claim over their promotion.
In granting them leave, Justice Frank Seepersad also ordered a stay preventing the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and the Defence Council from promoting any junior officer to the acting vice chief of defence staff (VCDS).
The stay continues until February 13, when the matter comes up for a virtual hearing at which time Seepersad will determine if it should continue or be varied once he hears from the CDS and the council or any other interested party.
The application for judicial review was brought by Lt Cols Jozette McClean and Dexter Metivier both of whom have more than two decades of service. McClean is currently the acting director of strategic logistics at the Defence Force headquarters while Metivier is the head of the National Operations Fusion Center.
Both have exemplary service throughout their career, their joint application said.
They say the decision to appoint a wing commander and a lieutenant colonel to act as vice chief of staff. However, the two are junior to them is unreasonable, irrational and against the principles of natural justice since they were not interviewed nor were they allowed to make representation on their behalf. They have asked the court to make such declarations if they are successful in their lawsuit.
In the application, the two said the CDS is expected to demit office this month, leaving a vacancy. The current VCDS, in the normal scheme of things, is likely to assume the post until he, too, demits office later this year in November.
The lawsuit says the pending departure of the two senior officers will invariably leave vacancies for upward mobility in the Defence Force.
However, the two say the actions which led to them seeking legal redress, leave them unable to be considered for promotion.
The lawsuit contends McClean, as the most senior serving officer in the regiment, has been bypassed to act in the office of VCDS by an officer significantly junior to her to whom she would have to report. One of the wing commanders promoted ahead of her on January 30, currently holds a senior post at the Air Guard while the other was assigned to act in a senior post in the Regiment.
“The criteria for promotion and advancement has historically been by qualification, experience, seniority and performance,” the lawsuit contends. Both officers also said they have not been appraised for the last two and three years, respectively, which was mandatory, leaving them “without the necessary foundation for a recommendation for advancement in rank and for higher appointments.”
In support of their application, McClean said, they have not seen any publication or policy document from the Defence Council outlining a new policy for the advancement of senior commissioned officers to senior posts within the TTDF.
They say the appointment of their juniors ahead of them in key posts will give their colleagues an advantage for higher command and they (McClean and Metivier) will be denied the opportunity for advancement in the Defence Force given the disparity in the ages between them and their juniors.
The lawsuit also contends, “The applicants will lose from a pecuniary standpoint. The pay and emoluments of the senior command positions of the TTDF are not governed by the same scale as are applicable to the applicants presently.
“They would stand to lose the benefit of that significant increase in emoluments.”
The two officers are represented by attorneys Mariah Ramrattan and Arden Williams.