The final Supreme Court review verdict on the Aum Tandin Bidha and her daughter Dr Shacha Vs Ap Sonam Phuntsho case was delivered by a three judges bench of Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk, Justice Kuenlay Tshering and Justice Norbu Tshering.
The Chief Justice had abstained from earlier cases to avoid a conflict of interest as Ap SP is the father-in-law of the Chief Justice, but he had to be there in the final Supreme Court review as the CJ.
The review verdict in essence overturned the last Supreme Court verdict and enforcement order of April 2017 to give half the building with nine units, valued by the court at Nu 22 mn, to Ap SP who in turn would pay Nu 4 mn to Tandin Bidha.
The BNB’s Nu 9 mn loan was not even taken into account at the time leading to a Nu 5 mn shortfall for Aum Tandin Bidha in paying the loan on one half of the building.
The tables have, therefore, turned at least with respect to the last Supreme Court verdict.
The final review verdict says that the first priority will now go to the Bhutan National Bank (BNB) which can auction half the building that belongs to Sonam Wangmo, the daughter of Tandin Bidha.
The court based on an average drawn from two real estate developers, the last base price set by the previous bench and the bank’s own base price has come to a figure of Nu 2.42 mn per flat coming to a total of Nu 21.82 mn base price. The bank cannot auction the apartments below this rate.
Once it auctions the property, BNB will deduct the Nu 9 mn loan which is currently around Nu 8 mn after which the remaining amount around Nu 12 to 13 mn will go to AP SP as against the original Nu 18 mn recognized by the court to be owed to him.
The court verdict says that in case the BNB cannot get the base price then it can seek the Supreme Court’s permission for a negotiated price below the Supreme Court’s base price.
In the case even this is not successful then the court considering the base price of Nu 2.42 mn per apartment will assign four apartments to BNB coming to Nu 9.68 mn which is above the Nu 8 mn owed to them. The remaining five apartments valued at Nu 12 mn would be given to Ap SP which would still mean a shortage of Nu 6 mn claimed by the Ap SP.
The court said with regard to the balance amount for Ap SP he can try and recover it from the absconding Sonam Wangmo when she is arrested. The court issued an arrest warrant for her.
In regards to the rent of Nu 1.7 mn that has been accumulated since last year the court said that half the amount which belongs to Sonam Wangmo should be paid towards the Nu 9 mn loan. Of the other half that belongs to Tandin Bidha of Nu 408,000 is to be deducted as Tandin Bidha had been collecting an equivalent rent from the attic along with an additional deduction of Nu 400,000 which had been taken from the Changzamtok building account to another building’s account. Tandin Bidha is also supposed to pay around Nu 150,000 of her share of the fines to regularize the attic with the Thimphu Thromde.
The court, however waived of Nu 62,000 of late loan payment fees for Tandin Bidha due to the rent getting frozen by the High Court.
Earlier Tandin Bidha in her argument before the court challenged the four money receipts allegedly signed by her absconding daughter Sonam Wangmo coming to around Nu 18 mn. The court reminded her that the case now a review of the last Supreme Court judgment.
The court in the judgment noted that Sonam Wangmo’s own lawyer on three occasions in writing in the past had accepted the signature to be that of Sonam Wangmo. The judgment said that if Sonam Wangmo wants to challenge the signature and do forensic tests then she should appear before the court.
Ap SP who in the last verdict was getting full possession of nine units after paying the remainder Nu 4 mn will today not get the units and still be short of around Nu 6 mn.
When asked for his response an enraged Ap SP shouted on the phone switching between English, Dzongkha and even Nepali saying that he is unhappy with the verdict and that he would even ‘fight’ in the evening with his son-in-law the Chief Justice at his home. Ap SP referring to the CJ said, “I will not leave him, he has done a big mistake.” He said the earlier verdict was fairer.
Ap SP accused the Supreme Court judgment of ‘totally favoring’ Aum Tandin Bidha. Ap SP said that he now planned to appeal the matter to the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s office.
Aum Tandin Bidha said that she was not well and did not want to react at the moment.
The original verdict of the High Court was that Tandin Bidha had to pay Nu 18 mn to Sonam Phuntsho within three months on the basis of four money receipts or give up nine of the 18 apartments in her Changzamtok building. The Nu 18 mn was an alleged amount taken by Tandin Bidha’s daughter Sonam Wangmo from Ap SP for the building. The building is jointly owned by Tandin Bidha and her daughter Sonam Wangmo who did not appear for the hearings in the High Court and Supreme Court. BNB did not feature in the verdict at the time.
The Supreme Court upheld the High Court verdict but after a request for a review the Supreme Court reviewed the verdict with a joint bench of Justice Tashi Chozom and Justice Rinzin Penjore who gave their verdict on 18th August 2016 with an enforcement order on April 2017 mentioned above that is now overturned by the final review verdict.