ACC files Gyelpozhing land case in Mongar Court

ACC does not agree with the OAG’s findings and is not pleased with the OAG’s handling of the investigation report

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on November 13th, 2012 registered the Gyelpozhing land case for prosecution with the Mongar Dzongkhag court.

This comes after two months since September 19th, 2012 when the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had informed the ACC saying that there is no legal case in the Gyelpozhing land case.

The Mongar District court Judge Gyembo Dorji who would also be adjudicating the case said, “around a 100 page report has been handed to the court which contains around 75 charges, which include charges against the plot allotment committee members and chairmen and also legal grounds for restitution of plots.”

The charges framed by ACC are broadly the same that have been presented to the OAG by the ACC on August 31st, 2012.

The charges framed in the Mongar District Court include NA 1-2 of the Thrimzhung Chhenmo which are offences of forgery and deceptive practices and Section 294 of the Penal Code of Bhutan which is for official misconduct.

The only change is that earlier charges relating to the fine for illegal registration of plots in violation of the Land Act 1979 is not being pursued as it is understood that the clauses are primarily meant for land transaction between two people.

The charges against the Gyelpozhing plot allotment committees and the speaker are criminal in nature while the rest are primarily civil in nature.

 

ACC stands by its investigation report

The ACC in an earlier release on its website had said, “The Commission will prosecute the Gyelpozhing land case. The Office of the Attorney General returned the case to the Commission on September 19, 2012. The Commission reviewed the laws, examined their relevant provisions and applicability to the case and consolidated charges for prosecution.”

Talking to The Bhutanese the ACC Chairperson Dasho Neten Zangmo said, “We respect the OAG’s professional opinion but we are going by our own investigation findings which are very clear and we are duty bound to take the case to its logical conclusion.”

She also said that ACC’s findings showed that ineligible people were allotted land and that there was criminal intent.

Talking about the importance of the case the ACC Chairperson said, “This case is not just Gyelpozhing land case per se, but it has serious implications for future issues relating to land.” “Through this case an important precedent has to be set so that this does not recur,” she added.

One of the main arguments of the OAG in dismissing ACC’s charges was that the land allotment committees had prescribed additional criteria within its powers and jurisdiction.

However, Dasho Neten said, “The Dzongkhag plot allotment committees may have been legitimate bodies but they were supposed to conduct themselves transparently, as per the norms and within the uniform criteria set for plot allocation. The committees should have followed the criteria in form and spirit.”

Dasho also clarified that ACC still holds the position that land across the river (where senior ministers among others received land) was government land not meant to be allotted and not part of the town area.

The ACC is of the overall position that various illegalities happened in Gyelpozhing.

 

ACC not happy with OAG’s handling of report

The ACC despite its diplomatic reply on the OAG’s analysis is not pleased with the OAG’s handling of the ACC report.

Dasho Neten said, “The OAG should not have given out investigation details because it undermines and pre-empts subsequent action. Releasing the investigation details was inappropriate.”

“What they should have done is like in the past, if they feel there is no case they should have returned our report without publicizing it. This (Gyelpozhing) is a break from the norm,” said Dasho.

In what was another break from the norm the OAG in its nine page legal opinion had dedicated three pages to rebutting charges from the Opposition Leader and the media.

Apart from saying that the ACC investigation had been carried out ‘as requested by the Opposition Leader, certain sections of the media and the Royal Government’, it also said that OAG ‘felt the need to assess whether the objectives of the investigation had been met and the main questions answered.’

It was this section of the report that irked the ACC for attempting to link it to the Opposition among others and also questioning if the objectives of the investigation had been met.

In an unprecedented move the ACC Chairperson Dasho Neten Zangmo wrote to the OAG on the issue.

Dasho said, “We have written to them as they are questioning the very objectives of the investigation which means they have questioned our integrity. They are questioning ACC’s intentions and it has undermined our integrity.”

Also for sometime the government had been claiming that it had initiated investigations into Gyelpozhing. This was when ACC had already announced that it would review the Gyelpozhing case well before the government asked for any investigation.

Dasho Neten denied any instructions from any quarters had led ACC to investigative the case. She said, “ACC takes independent decisions based on the merit of the case.”

On questions on why the ACC charges did not include charges of conflict of interest, abuse of power and abuse of privileged information the ACC Chairperson clarified that the laws existing at the time did not address these issues and hence they could not be charged under the retroactive clause. The ACC Act and the Penal Code came in only recent years. She, however, said that it would be up to the courts to make the final legal interpretation and application.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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27 comments

  1. Hey TB finally TB is up again haha.Web-Nuk has suspended your account for non payment of due Are you guys bankrupt or what?

    Seriously,why don’t you guys look for Google Site option.It is free and it is secure.You just have to pay for the domain and I guess you already have the domain.
    You will get 100MB size free.
    If you need any further info.contact me.

    • those who support the bhutanese, i think we should finance them to keep going, or float the shares. the gyelpozhing land case, the denchi, the trowa wouldn’t come to public without the bhutanese. i m supporting this, there should be more words and will follow later…

      • Ok TB give me your mail id.I will create free sample site for you in Google Site.If you have gmail id that would be great.

      • That is a good suggestion. I am willing to support too through contribution if TB is really struggling. 

    • surely we have to something. I was so much worried.

  2. The Penal Code of Bhutan was enacted in August 2004. Provisions of the panel code could not be applied retroactively. Offences related to forgery and deception are adequately covered by NA 1-2 Under this law the person guilty of forgery and deceptive parctices are liable for prison term ranging from 3 to 6 years. ACC did a great job. The time and resources spent by ACC on this land scam should not go to waste. We will now watch how the judiciary performs its tasks. If necessary ACC should take this case all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Those of us who are committed to restore rule of law and thereby happiness to our people will make details analysis of the verdict of the court and inform the public how the law is applied and interpreted by the court.

    In the meantime can The Bhutanese disclose the names of judges who are allotted land in Gyelpozhing by the infamous Land Allotment Committee.

  3. Who the hell r u to preempt the judgement

  4. Gyalpozhing land case is such a land mark corruption case for Bhutanese Democracy. The outcome of this corruption case will in a way set the tone for clean democracy henceforth and live up to the definition of democracy “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” . It will also set the precedence for Bhutan’s future leaders and the government to uphold clean government with zero tolerance to corruption of any kind. This would be a most befitting tribute to our Monarchs gift of democracy to the people of Bhutan. Kudos to ACC led by Dasho Aum Neten for leading by example and taking this case to its logical conclusion. Tashi Delek and keep up the good work ACC. My appreciation for serving the Tsa Wa Sum in the truest sense of the phrase.

  5. Good to know that ACC had finally registered the case with the courts. The Gyalpozhing land case certainly must have a logical conclusion.

    It is also good to know that ACC can investigate any case without anybody requesting them to to do so. However I wonder if Chang Ugyen land case does not merit any investigation that ACC is so silent about. This paper too has been silent too on it. 

    ACC had investigated and implicated few doctors and officials at the Ministry of Health but I always wonder why it did not investigate Dr. Gado Tshering and the former ministers Jigme Singye and Sangay Ngedup. They were all responsible for major corruptions that plagued the Ministry of Health. 

    If ACC is trying to prove us that its approaches are not double standard then they seriously need to prove us by investigating the big fishes. The common statement of ACC,  ‘give us the evidence’ to investigate influential person is a double standard approach while it investigates a simple Gup or officer to ‘establish evidence’ based on an anonymous complaint. 

    Even with Gyalpozhing land case, ACC had charged the committee chairperson and members whereby the poor committee members will be made to face the music. However it will be interesting to see how the courts interpret the laws. 

    • i dont understand what big fish phuntsho is talking about  … if ACC can investigate Gyelpozing case than it can investigate all other cases .. and  if you analysis it properly than Gyelpozing case have sharks not fish …… so just have faith in ACC as its doing really great job and sending the message that there is only one law for everyone.

  6. If I am the Prime Minister and I am indicted, I would give a plot to ACC Chairperson and keep the topic shut instead of giving back the land so registered to the government. How fair is it on our Lyonpos’ part to say that they will return the land back to the government? If it is within their wish to have land when they like and return when they have been found guilty, why is it that we should have laws? Shameful set of Lyonpos……………..really shameful speaker and his colleagues

    • Phur if the courts convict the PM and his ministers the question of surrendering the plot back or not doesn’t arise. They will be dealt with according to the law. However the PM and the ministers only made their intentions to surrender the plot back to the government on voluntary basis, and they are yet to be proven guilty. So get the communication right before you jump to the conclusion killing yourself. 

      Even so, the ACC had  not charged in any of the their statements the PM and other recipients of the land. Ultimately it will be the poor committee members who will be convicted. That is for sure and that seemingly looks like a logical conclusion to Gyalpozhing land scandal. 

      • I think this is a forced voluntarism by our ministers after so much of pressure by the public and the medias. They actually tried to defend time and again including the PM making statement in the media. Now it is unfolding in front of the public. So let us wait and see what is the truth! Has our leader lied publicly? If so what is the morality of this? but let us wait and see…..

  7. I have full respect for the ACC chairman, but over here, I sadly can’t agree with her. The OAG has never questioned her integrity or that of the ACC, the only thing the OAG has done is studied the ACCs report and given their views. As ACC does not agree with the OAGs  findings, they have unilaterally filed a case against  various individuals which they have every right to do.

    • OAG need not have to question integrity of ACC. ACC is just trying to inculcate the sense of professionalism.
      I believe if court convicts home minister and speaker ACC also must prosecute OAG office for misusing their authority to cover up the case. You know in this case Speaker and home minister has become scapegoat.

  8. Those who are convicted should’nt be stepping down? Are the BIGGIES allowed to hold offices and go normal even after being criminally charged by a court?

    • Good what you need to know is OAG can’t decide on returning the case, it is the duty of the court to decide not OAG. By the nature for me OAG us serving just few people while they were paid to takecare of the country… They have lost thier integrety.. 

  9. In the next few weeks the attention of the nation will focus on Mongar Dzongkhag Court. We wish the Drangpon all the best and we pray that he will deliver justice as per the law. Drangpons should follow their conscience and their decisions should be influenced only by the law. There were instances where the verdicts of the Dzongkhag courts were influenced by the judges at the higher court. The Judicial Services Act of 2007 gives immense power to the Chief Justice and senior judges to control the career of the judges in dzongkhag courts. To ensure complete independence of the judges in the dzongkhag courts the Judicial Services Act has to be amended. The concerned citizens who are anxious to prevent Bhutan joining the ranks of the failed states will get petition from all dzongkhags to amend the judicial Services Act and lobby with the MPs to get it done.
    Independent judiciary that respects the rule of law is the most important institution to prevent corruption and maintain dignity of the people.

  10. Hope the drangpons out there doesnot get the influence from the highest in order as the one convicted is very much related to the head out here.Let the nation judge how the judiciary maintains thier integrity in the coming days.

  11. Dear ACC,

    Its good that you have now chargesheeted the Gyalposhing land case BUT why only three of them namely Speaker, home minister and other guy. Why not other committee members. Above 3 should be free if other committee members are free too. If Chairman of the committee is chargesheeted, ACC should not spare the Committee members also. ACC talks about fairness. Where is fairness?? Taking care of your integrity by handling big two only? Its unreasonable to differentiate. If chairman is guilty, the committee members should be equally guilty.

    I think it would be injustice if Mongar Court convict those three people and spare committee members.

    Lets be fair here! Lead by example to do justice yourself (ACC)

    • Did this paper report to you that only the chairmen of the committee will be prosecuted? ACC had made it clear that Chairmen and the members of the Land Allotment Committee will be prosecuted for possibly breaking certain laws. 

      Even otherwise, don’t you think its high time that we make the head (in this case the chairman) accountable rather than punishing the only punishable folks? My fear however is that at the end of the due legal processes it will the poor non-affluent committee members who will be convicted, thereby punishing again only the punishable lots. 

    • Hi dear PDP,
      I agree, you are correct to some extend, practically what happens, in any organization chairman is always boss of committee in any matter. Chairman will always lecture committee and ultimately made them to agree and other cannot go against boss/chairman. So, that may be the reason

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