ACC submits its Rebuttal after the first hearing

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) during the first hearing in the high court’s full bench said that the Home Minister was found guilty of not abiding by his Majesty’s Kasho of 1987 and was charged for official misconduct of allotting plots to those who were not eligible.

However the legal counsel of the Home Minister, Jamyang Sherub Wangdi refuted and said that the procedures on plot allotment were issued by the Royal Government in 1991 pursuant to the Kaja of 1987 according to which he said the municipal committee had the authority to allot plots in urban areas.

In its rebuttal statement at the high court yesterday, the ACC requested the high court’s full bench to uphold the Mongar court’s verdict on the Gyelpozhing land allotment case. ACC restated that the Home Minister had failed to abide by His Majesty’s Kasho of 1987.

Earlier the land allotment committee and Home Minister Lyonpo Minjur Dorji appealed to the court as they felt that the Mongar district court’s verdict failed to take cognizance of the Municipal Act of 1999.

The ACC’s representative said it doesn’t matter whether the plots were allotted out of goodwill. Further, ACC also stressed that it doesn’t matter whether the benefits the Home Minister and the Committee members gained from allotting plots were indirect. What counts, ACC said, was that the plots were allotted to those who were not eligible and not to the entitled people.

ACC said that there are still about 25 people who are eligible but did not get the plots. Also, some of the committee members were not aware of the rules and regulations governing plot allotment and that it was the Dzongda, as the head of the committee, who took the decision. ACC also said that defense counsel is supposed to appeal on behalf of the committee members as well. But the defense counsel in the first hearing, ACC said appealed more in favor of the Home Minister.

The commission representative restated that the Municipal Act could not be used until a charter was granted, as predetermined in the circulars government issued then. He also said the two Dratshangs profited a plot each, because the committee members felt they did not receive much financial support from the government, as did Kunzang Dema, because her husband worked hard in making provisions for His Majesty’s visit to the dzongkhag.

“There were many whose land the government had acquired from the area, but they weren’t among the list of applicants the committee prioritized,” he said.  Further, the committee was authorized under the municipal Act, 1999 and the following 2004 manual for implementation of DYT  Chathrim, which stated the DYT could consider for approval, or recommendation, plans for urban development, “as may be submitted by the dzongkhag administration, in accordance with Bhutan municipal Act, 1999”.

The legal counsel of the Home Minister, who is also representing the other committee members, will submit a rebuttal on 8 April.

Meanwhile, the first hearing for the National Assembly Speaker Jigme Tshultim is scheduled for Monday.

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