ACC wrote to PM on Penjore’s complaint against OAG

Towards the end of May 2021 after his 16-day detention by the RBP based on a complaint by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Penjore filed a complaint cum press release against the OAG with various agencies including the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The complaint by Penjore questioned his 16-day detention and called it a violation of his Human Rights. He questioned why he had been detained by the OAG and accused the Attorney General of having abused his powers and becoming both the complainant and prosecutor.

He also raised issues of freedom of speech and expression.

He argued in his letter that he had not defamed anyone in his facebook post but only raised points in the public interest.

Penjore also listed the chronology of his detention and his time behind bars.

The contents of the complaint were adequate to allow it to be put up in a full Commission meeting where the Commission decided to forward the complaint to the Prime Minister for sensitization.

The ACC Commission in its letter to the PM said that it was forwarding allegations against the OAG for the PM to take necessary action if deemed fit.

An ACC official said that the Commission took up the complaint from Penjore and forwarded it based on the accusation of abuse of power. The official said the Commission would not even have discussed the letter or forwarded it to the PM if there was no substance at all. The official said there is also the issue of accountability.

The official said that the ACC could not review the case for investigation as ACC can only look into abuse of power cases that lead to corruption and not abuse of power cases or complaints by themselves.

The official also said that the ACC chose to write to the PM as he is the reporting authority for the AG.

At the same time the official also said that this is one of the five ways in which the ACC deals with complaints. These approaches could be to investigate the case, to send it for administrative action, to send it asking for an action taken report and to send it for sensitization.

The official said that the letter was sent to the PM to ‘sensitize’ him.

The letter from the ACC to the Prime Minister was sent around a week before the Thimphu district court dismissed the OAG’s sedition case against Penjore on 18th June 2021.

The ACC official said that the dismissal of the case by the court vindicated the ACC’s stand in forwarding the complaint to the PM.

Penjore had also submitted a complaint to the National Assembly’s Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee which has already met twice to discuss the case.

 A member of the committee said that the committee could not meet much during the busy session but now it has met twice and it is in the information gathering stage.

The committee is also expected to come up with its own observations on the case.

The Prime Minister recently said that the unconditional and absolute non interference of him and his government in the OAG’s affairs probably is the biggest contribution they are making to democracy.

The Bench 1 of the Thimphu District court dismissed the OAG’s case on four grounds saying OAG and the State cannot be treated at the equivalent level; if the court proceedings are initiated in this case then it will set a bad precedent for the due process of law; there was no allegation or complaint by the judiciary; and the case was about defamation but now it had turned into a sedition case.

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