The verdict of the Gyelpozhing land case has garnered mixed views from different sections of people across the country with many having mixed feelings on the sentencing of the committee members. These civil servants face a double jeopardy of, conviction of a year and termination without benefits.
Some people have also criticized the verdict as being very lenient on the speaker and the Home Minister. The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC),commissioner Bachu Phub Dorji said that if the committee members are convicted even in the higher courts and if the ultimate result is misdemeanor then section 85 of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan (2010) will be applicable to the convicts.
Section 85 of the act states that a civil servant shall be terminated from service if he or she is convicted by the court of law for a criminal offence of misdemeanor and above for offences related to discharge of official functions. It also means termination without any benefits.
If they do not appeal further, they will be booked under section 85 of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan (2010).
Had the committee members not committed the offence related to discharge of official functions for instance offences like battery, murder etc then they would be booked under section 86 of Civil Act of Bhutan, 2010.
The section 86 of the act states, a civil servant shall be compulsorily retired from service with post service benefit if he or she is convicted by the court of law for a criminal offence or misdemeanor and above for offences not related to discharge of official functions. But will be paid their benefits.
Some of the convicted are in a dilemma as to whether to appeal to the high court or to accept the verdict passed by the Mongar district court on March 8. However, most of them want to appeal.
The commissioner also said that the concerned agencies and authorities have the power to take administrative action against the convicts as per the delegation of authority under the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulation (BCSR).
While the powers to impose both minor and major penalty on a secretary to the Government, other officers of secretary’s rank, and Head of the Autonomous Agency shall be exercised by the RCSC, reads section 19.2.6 of the BCSR, 2012.
While the power to impose a penalty on a civil servant shall be exercised by the respective authority as follows. For all categories of Civil Servants from Ex 1 to GSP minor penalties are handled by the agency. Even major penalty up to the P1 level is implemented by the Agency. However, major penalty from Ex1/Es1 to Ex3/Es3 is done by the RCSC.
A 34-year old civil servant said, had these committee members opposed their boss during those times then they would have lost their jobs as acceptance and silence was the only option for them those days. Sadly, for these actions they have to pay heavy penalty today.
“I feel sad for them, termination without benefits, what will they do and what about their families? Verdict should be revisited,” he said.
Another businessman said that the Speaker and the Home minster should be held responsible while the committee members should be freed with warnings so that they do not repeat again.
When the monk, Sonam Tshering was caught with about 420 packets of chewing tobacco, he was sentenced for three years straight.
When officials from agencies like BNB, BDBL had misused funds from the office, they were charged for fraud and received years of imprisonment.
The committee members who received imprisonment of a year each are
Tappo ( Dzongrab)
Tashi Norbu Sherpa (AE) MMC
Karchung (Assistant Dzongkhag Agricultural)
Khina Maya (District Health Officer)
Sangay Dorji (ADEO)
CL Das (DE)
Pelden Norgay (DE)
Rinchen Wangdi (DZFO)
Dorji Wangchuk (DLO)
Lok Nath Dahal (FO)
Kinley Dorji (LRO)
Tandin Dorji (DAO)
Dechen Singye (Secretary)
Chencho Dema / Thimphu