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Judge to decide on Thursday if Defence Force injunction should remain

Black Immigrant Daily News

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Justice Frank Seepersad –

AN INJUNCTION staying the promotions of junior officers to the post of vice chief of defence staff (VCDS) in the Defence Force will continue until Thursday, when a High Court judge hears submissions on whether it should remain in place until a lawsuit filed by two senior officers is determined.

Justice Frank Seepersad said he wanted to deal with the injunction, which he granted last week, before the weekend, when Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Darryl Daniel begins his pre-retirement leave.

Seepersad has been asked to determine a complaint by Lt Col Josette McClean and Dexter Metivier, who say they have been bypassed for promotion.

In their lawsuit, the two senior officers have complained that two junior officers have been appointed to act as VCDS, ahead of them.

With Daniel demitting office soon, it is expected that the VCDS Brig Gen Dexter Francis will move up the ranks until his retirement in November.

The officers’ application for judicial review, which they got permission to pursue, contends they have more than two decades of service. McClean is the acting director of strategic logistics at the Defence Force headquarters and Metivier is the head of the National Operations Fusion Centre.

Both have exemplary service throughout their careers, their joint application said, although their performances have not been appraised for several years as is mandatory.

They say the decision to appoint a wing commander and a lieutenant colonel – who are junior to them – to act as vice chief of staff is unreasonable, irrational and against the principles of natural justice.

McLean and Metivier are seeking a series of declarations over the handling of their promotions. They are seeking an order quashing the promotions of their junior colleagues and another mandating that their appraisals be completed.

On Monday, attorneys for the CDS and the Defence Council said they intended to raise preliminary points of law and needed time to file evidence in support.

Th judge denied their request for two weeks, saying there was a need to act expeditiously because of the impending retirement of the CDS.

“Injunctive relief signals a sense of urgency to drop everything and deal with the matter.”

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Seepersad said the issue should be resolved, as it was likely to come up again if someone was appointed to act as VCDS when Daniel goes on leave.

Seepersad said the uncertainty should not be allowed to continue, especially since it affects the security of the country.

Although the CDS’s attorney did not indicate the preliminary issue they intend to raise, counsel for the Defence Council said it was their position that they should not be a party to the proceedings, since that body had no involvement in terms of promotion.

“When you look at the legislation, that responsibility is given to the Minister of National Security. It does not extend to the Defence Council.”

Directions were given to file affidavits and submissions before Thursday, when Seepersad will consider the matter.

McLean and Metivier are represented by Arden Williams and Mariah Ramrattan. Attorneys Rachael Theophilus and Christa Jalim represent the CDS and Ronnelle Hinds and Gayatri Dass represent the Defence Council, which is an interested party in the case.

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