ACC (Amendment) Bill 2021 preserves ACC’s prosecution power but does not give it HR independence

During the Joint Sitting on Monday, the Chairperson of the Joint Committee, the Member of Parliament (MP) Ugyen Wangdi from Drametse-Ngatshang constituency presented the Committee’s 34 recommendations on the Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021.

After the deliberation on the Committee’s recommendations, the House endorsed the Committee’s recommendation to retain the provision as per the existing Act, and except for the provisions related to human resources independence, the rest of the recommendations of the Committee were adopted with 44 Yes, 14 No, and 8 Abstain, out of 66 Members. The House deliberated on the Committee’s recommendation to render human resources independence to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

The Joint Committee has proposed an amendment on the security and independence of adequate human resources of ACC. They have proposed as, the Commission shall determine its organizational structure and administer it independently. This is because the ACC is concerned over growing attrition rates of its staff including at higher levels. The hope was to have a model like the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) which controls its own human resources using its Act.

However, the recommendation did not get the two-thirds majority support from the members, wherein the existing section states that, the Commission shall determine its organizational structure in consultation with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and administer it independently. Currently, RCSC looks after the HR of the Commission.

In addition, the House also deliberated on the disputed clause regarding the prosecution by ACC.  The Joint Committee was instituted to review the disputed clauses of the ACC (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021 between the two Houses of Parliament.

During a press conference with NC, the members expressed the discrepancies they felt with the passing of the Bills in the Joint Sitting, which they said, failed to follow proper legislative rules of procedure in voting, and passing of Bills in the Joint Sitting.

MP Sangay Dorji from Chukha said that section 68 of the Legislative Rules of Procedure 2017 contradicts the National Assembly Speaker’s decision on using the voting machines.

The section states that no vote shall be held on a separate session of article of a Bill, which has been resolved by the Joint Committee, he added.

The Speaker has said that he followed the rules.

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