Army major to get efficiency medal at next parade

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FILE PHOTO: President Christine Kangaloo inspects the troops of the TT Defence Force during her inauguration ceremony on Monday. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

The Defence Force has agreed to award the efficiency medal to an army major when President Christine Kangaloo, as commander in chief of the armed forces, hosts the next parade for servicemen and women to receive their efficiency decorations and medals.

Justice Devindra Rampersad signed off on the agreement by the Defence Force on Tuesday when he approved a consent order between Ginelle Pranand the Defence Force.

The Defence Force also agreed to pay the costs of Pran’s lawsuit, $80,000, in full and final settlement.

In March 2022, Pran applied for an injunction to have her name reinstated on the list of servicemen and women to receive their efficiency decorations and medals at a parade hosted that month by then President Paula-Mae Weekes.

Rampersad initially granted the injunction, but later revoked it, since, he said at the time, there was no financial benefit to receiving the medal, and it would be more damaging to take it away from Pran than to delay its award. He did grant her permission to pursue her claim against the decision to remove her name from the list.

The judge also heard evidence from the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel, who, in an affidavit, said Pran’s name was “inadvertently” included on the March 2022 list of recipients for the efficiency medal.

Nevertheless, she was told on March 12, 2022, she would be excluded because of alleged disciplinary charges in 2015 related to her deployment on academic training in Jamaica.

Pran said those charges were eventually summarily dismissed and should not have been taken into account.

She also said not only was she qualified for the award because of her exemplary service, but had also been recommended for it by her superiors, having served with distinction for more than 12 years.

Her application also said Pran had received ratings of “very good” in her confidential reports and commendations for outstanding work in logistics, her military occupational specialty, for 2018-2021.

But in his affidavit, Daniel said while Pran might have met the qualifying time period threshold to receive the award, and on the basis of her conduct – having been awarded “good/very good/exemplary conduct” throughout her career she might be qualified, the “character of the claimant does not rise to the standard of being “irreproachable.”

At the time, the judge said the CDS should have provided full full disclosure, giving details of how she was “inadvertently” included on the list.

He said the court could not “second-guess” what might or might not be irreproachable character for the purposes of the Defence Force, and ruled the matter should go to trial, since there would be no practical benefit to refer it to the Defence Council, when not only was the council “notoriously slow” in dealing with petitions before it, but any decision made was likely to result in further litigation.

Pran, who had alleged she was discriminated against, was represented by attorneys Arden Williams, Shelly-Ann Daniel and Mariah Puckerin. The CDS was represented by Monica Smith and Savi Ramhit.