Trinidad and Tobago
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Prisons boss sues over new interview for promotion

Jada Loutoo File photo: Acting Commissioner of Prisons Deopersad Ramoutar.
File photo: Acting Commissioner of Prisons Deopersad Ramoutar.

ACTING Prisons Commissioner Deopersad Ramoutar has obtained an injunction against the Public Service Commission (PSC) over another “suitability interview” for promotion to the rank of senior superintendent of prisons.

The injunction was granted by Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams and will come up for hearing next week.

In August, Ramoutar won his lawsuit against the PSC over its move to have a competency-based interview for promotion. This lawsuit was filed before he was appointed acting commissioner in early 2022.

At the time he claimed the move to introduce the requirement, after he topped the list of candidates for promotions based on criteria set in 2014 and was awaiting retroactive promotion, was wrong.

Ramoutar had also obtained an injunction blocking the commission from filling permanent vacancies pending the outcome of the case in that challenge. The PSC failed in its application for the injunction to be discharged and in ruling in Ramoutar’s favour, Justice Kevin Ramcharan declared the PSC's decision to introduce the competency interview was irrational and unreasonable.

He also issued an order quashing the decision. In his ruling, Ramcharan held that the PSC could not interview Ramoutar on his knowledge of previous years.

Ramoutar’s attorneys say replacing the previous interview with another, regardless of its name, was “absurd and irrational” as it would be impossible for him to compartmentalise the knowledge he held in 2014-2017.

They also said the decision was also irrational since first-division prison officers have been promoted since 2017 without an interview.

The lawsuit also claims Ramoutar was given no notice that despite being ranked in the first position for promotion, he would have to subject himself to an interview which would carry a 30 per cent value towards his overall assessment.

Ramoutar is again challenging the lawfulness of the PSC to re-assess his suitability in an interview in 2023 for the 2014-2017 assessment period, for a rank which is several ranks lower than his current position of acting commissioner.

The “suitability interview” was expected to be held on Thursday. The new process of holding a competency-based interview was established in 2019.

Ramoutar is represented by Dinesh Rambally, Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon, Rhea Khan and Rajiv Sochan.