DPT to withdraw the case filed against Dasho Paljor J Dorji

The Opposition Party, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), wants to withdraw an entire lawsuit it filed against Dasho Paljor J Dorji (also known as Dasho Benji), stating that it is being done in the greater interest of the nation, to Bench V, Thimphu District Court on April 23.

The legal representative of DPT and the Member of Parliament (MP) of Dremtse-Ngatshang, Ugyen Wangdi, said that the party has requested the court to dismiss the charge of sedition as irrelevant.

“What deeply saddens us is the levelling of accusation of usurping Royal Prerogatives and committing sedition, which in turn opens the subject of a scared relationship between our revered King and his subjects in a public court of law,” Ugyen Wangdi said.

He said DPT had not thought that a defamation case could potentially be transformed into a sedition case.  “The simple case is now progressively assuming proportion and dimensions never anticipated, and in ways that neither party can be proud of. It is clear that there will be no winners in this case, irrespective of the judgement. This case now threatens to inflict unthinkable damages to the Tsa-Wa-Sum for various reasons,” DPT’s legal representative said.

DPT voiced that the progression of the case is building animosity, acrimony and hatred among the people. Ugyen Wangdi said the verdict of the case would be a contentious one, testing the foundation of Bhutanese democracy and the integrity of the society, which is already weakened by divisive politics.

“Our emerging democracy, the precious gift from our Kings, needs nurturing and it can only come from a polity that is united in its knowledge, wisdom and determination,” Ugyen Wangdi added. He said a divide polity will be exploited by vested groups from within and outside the country.

DPT stated in court that the party is deeply concerned of the implications of the allegation of sedition to the Tsa-Wa-Sum, and requested that the allegation be quashed.

“To the plaintiff, it is clear from both the rulings that when an individual like the defendant, who is the former chief justice of Bhutan, special advisor to the National Environment Commission, senior and respected person in the society makes such a statement, there is no doubt as to why it would not produce a bad impression in the minds of average, reasonable, ordinary, just and reasonable citizens,” he said.

The plaintiff submitted to court that the July 19 party convention was a closed chapter.  DPT stated that the evidence submitted to court on this allegation was a doctored videoclip, questioning its authenticity and the motive.

Ugyen Wangdi also submitted evidence and contested against other allegations, such as the usurpation of Royal Prerogative. On the issue of allotment of government Toyota Prado, he said that the practice of disposing government vehicles to public servants eligible for quota on depreciated cost basis existed from the early days. He further said it was not out of line with the past practice and cannot be construed as having robbed the nation, especially when the vehicle was sold and not handed as gratis.

DPT also stated in court that the Land Bill was submitted to the National Assembly by the concerned agencies to delibrate on the merits and demerits of the bill, and was in no way an attempt to usurp the Royal Prerogative, or fall within the allegation of ‘robbing the country’.

On the charge of viloation of law and policy corruption such as illegal imposition of tax, Ugyen Wangdi said the issue was never a part of the allegation made in any of the earlier submissions and it was unfair to deny adequate opportunity to defend the issue. He requested the court to quash the allegation along with its evidence as irrelevant. He also requested the court to quash the allegation made on DPT curbing the press freedom.

As for charges on the illegal lease tenure for the Education City, he said that the lease was granted for an intial term of 30 years only, and to be renewed for two terms within 30 years each, in accordance with the Land Act.

On the illegal and discrimatory land compensation rate charges against DPT, Ugyen Wangdi said that the Denchi Town was declared as Throm’B’ category by the Parliament on 14 July 2010.  “In fact it had been already been declared as a Dzongkhag Thromde by the National Assembly during the 89th Session on 26th March 2006, under the command of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo.”

On the charge of illegal awarding of explosive supply contract, he explained that one of the primary reasons for awarding license for Ms Rabdheun was to meet the growing demand for explosives for projects and nationwide development activities.

On illegal attempted to sale of government land, he said that the issue of the Trowa Theatre land was discussed in the National Council. He submitted that the proposal for the sale of the land was not directly offered to the tenant, but to the National Land Commission (NLC). “The NLC did not approve the proposal, but reduced the rent to Nu 20 per sqft,” he pointed out. Further adding that Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) report had declared is that there was no policy corruption on Trowa Theatre land case.

On the allegation of causing fraudulant loss and placing undue debt burden on future generations, DPT submitted to court that the debt has nothing to do with robbing the country. The debt has enabled the foundation to be laid for prosperity, not only of the present generation but for the future as well. “All debt incurred were used for the investment projects of the country to cater to the requirements of the future generations,” the legal representative of DPT said.

On the financial loss incurred to the nation by the lottery scam, Ugyen Wangdi said that Royal Audit Authority had conducted a special audit on the case, and the case report was submitted to relevant institutions including ACC. “The decision to revise the guaranteed income was not taken by any one individual, but by a committee called the Inter-Ministerial Lottery Committee (IMLC),” Ugyen Wangdi stated.  The IMLC comprises of members from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs, besides the Director of the Revenue and Customs Department and the Directorate of Lottery. He said that the revision had been promoted by a ban on lottery sales in the Indian state of Kerala and the agent, therefore, wished to terminate the agreement with Bhutan.

On the allegation of appointment of illegal agency to defraud public resources, DPT submitted to court that it has not appointed any agent for BHEL products in the country. The legal representive of DPT said the defendant had failed to produce any evidence to prove the allegation.

Meantime, Dasho Paljor J. Dorji’s lawyer, Younten Dorji, said that a written response would be submitted to the court on Monday regrading the withdrawal of the case by DPT.

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