Dispute settlement bodies dissolve prior to Poll Day

The twenty dzongkhags’ election dispute settlement bodies dissolved automatically on July 4, 2013 (nine days before Poll Day), and the central election dispute settlement body dissolved automatically on July 7, 2013 (six days before Poll Day).

Thereafter, all election-related cases shall be decided directly by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) and any decision of the ECB may be appealed through an election petition.

The ECB received a total of twenty two cases registered with the Election Dispute Settlement System which comprises the Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body (DEDSB) in the 20 dzongkhags, the Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) in ECB head office and the entire ECB itself till July 3.

According to an ECB news release, the following are the cases filed until July 3 during the election year 2013.

Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) dzongkhag coordinator Chorten Tshering of Trashiyangtse dzongkhag filed a case on June 8, 2013 against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) dzongkhag coordinator Langa Tshering and Thukten for conducting a meeting without prior permissions.

The Trashiyangtse dzongkhag dispute settlement body has investigated and conducted a hearing on June 17, 2013 and issued warnings to both Langa Tshering and Thukten.

Ten Dorji, PDP coordinator of Samdrup Jongkhar complained that he was dissatisfied with the decision and action taken by ECB in the case against DPT’s candidate, Norbu Wangzom during the primary rounds.

As per the ECB decision, the case was dismissed as the case pertained to the primary rounds and according to ECB, appeal has to be in an election petition.

The PDP filed a cautionary note on June 12, 2013 that the DPT was organizing meetings with taxi drivers at Mystic Taste Restaurant. However, the Thimphu election dispute settlement body dismissed the case on June 27, 2013.

Sonam Dorji, PDP’s Trashigang dzongkhag coordinator, on June 12, 2013 alleged that the Mangmi and Tshogpa of Udzorong gewog set up the DPT office at Mangmi’s house.

The dzongkhag’s dispute settlement body asked the complainant to re-submit the complaint with necessary details. At the same time, an investigation was also carried out following which the Trashigang dzongkhag dispute settlement body dismissed the case.

PDP Candidate Yogesh Tamang, on June 13, 2013, lodged a case against Passang Tamang for slander via phone. However, the case was withdrawn by the complainant on June 17, 2013 and the case stands dismissed.

Sonam Dorji, PDP dzongkhag coordinator of Trashigang filed a case against Duptho (party worker), Sonam Dukpa (businessman), Minjur Dorji, the former Home Minister and Thinley Palden Dorji (DPT candidate) on allegations of bribery and objectionable influence.

The dzongkhag dispute settlement body dismissed the case as it related to the primary rounds, and also the complainant did not submit the material facts and details as required by the DEDSB. The ECB reminded Sonam Dukpa to avoid any such situation or support.

DPT dzongkhag coordinator of Monggar Dorji Leki filed a case on June 11, 2013 against PDP dzongkhag coordinator Namgay Dorji, for conducting meeting without prior permission of the Returning Officer. The dzongkhag dispute settlement body investigated the case and issued a warning to the PDP dzongkhag coordinator.

On June 13, 2013, Rinchen Draba, PDP dzongkhag coordinator, filed a complaint that Namgay Lhamo, wife of Namgay Penjor, DPT candidate was campaigning on behalf of Namgay Penjor. After investigation and hearing from the witnesses, the case was dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

Tashi Thinley, DPT dzongkhag coordinator of Wangdue Phodrang alleged on June 13, 2013 that Kinley Tenzin, PDP dzongkhag coordinator and Dorji from Rubesa gewog held meeting without prior approval on June 11, 2013. A hearing was conducted on June 19, 2013 and the DEDSB dismissed the case due to the lack of evidence.

Nima Drukpa filed a case in Samtse on June 13, 2013 against DPT candidate Durga Prasad Chhetri of Tashichholing for serving meals and drinks at a coordination meeting involving around 50 people by the DPT Chiwog coordinator. After investigation was carried out the Samtse dispute settlement body on June 17, 2013, issued a warning to Durga Prasad Chhetri and the DPT chiwog coordinator of Kuchinthang.

Tandin Wangchuk, PDP candidate of Athang-Thedtsho filed a case with the Wangdue Phodrang dispute settlement body on June 16, 2013 that Leki Tshering, Sr. ADM Officer, PHPA II (a civil servant) accompanied DPT candidate Passang Thrinlee, on his campaign in Rinchengang. The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence by the DEDSB on June 25, 2013. Leki Tshering had re-appealed on June 30, 2013, but after reviewing the case, the Central Dispute Settlement Body upheld the decision.

In another case, PDP candidate Mingbo Drukpa filed a complaint on June 16, 2013, objecting the statements made during the official tour undertaken by the Dzongda of Samdrup Jongkhar to the gewogs of Dewathang-Gomdar constituency. The Central Dispute Settlement Body, after reviewing the explanation provided by the Dzongda and giving opportunity for further submission by complainant, dismissed the case on June 26, 2013.

Lhundup Dorji, DPT gewog coordinator in Trashigang, on June 17, 2013, filed a complaint against Karma, a Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) supporter of supporting the PDP. As the complainant did not re-submit the complaint with pertinent details, as was asked to do so, the Trashigang dispute settlement body dismissed the case.

He filed a complaint against Tenzin Wangda and Yeshey Tshewang on the same date against DNT gewog coordinator and DCT coordinator for supporting the PDP. As the complainant did not re-submit the complaint with pertinent details the Trashigang dispute settlement body dismissed the case.

Sangay Norbu, DPT Coordinator for Yurung chiwog, on June 20, 2013 filed a case against PDP supporters, Tendrel Gyeltshen and Pema Tshewang for organizing unauthorized meetings in contravention of Electoral Laws. The Pemagatshel dispute settlement body on June 27, 2013, imposed Nu 3000 as fine on Tendrel Gyeltshen, Pema Tshewang, Pema Zangmo and Dorji Wangchuk respectively.

Kinley Dorji, a representative of the PDP’s Athang-Thedtsho Candidate on June 21, 2013 lodged a complaint with the Wangdue Phodrang dispute settlement body against DPT supporters for transportation of people during the DPT Presidential meeting from Bjednag, Nahi and Kamichu to Gangteythangkha and registration of new members. The dzongkhag dispute settlement body on June 21, 2013 dismissed the case as per letter No. ECB/ CEC_01/2013/4261 dated June 21, 2013 addressed to the two presidents that a complaint lodged on behalf of a party or a candidate shall be accepted only if endorsed by the concerned candidate, party president or president’s representative.

Upon some ECB officials receiving campaign SMS from some of the PDP candidates, the PDP was required to explain the sending of mass SMS on June 24, 2013 without prior approval of the ECB. The Central Dispute Settlement Body decided on July 1, 2013 to reprimand the PDP.

Wangdi Gyeltshen, Naja gewog tshogde tshogpa filed a complaint on June 24, 2013 alleging that DPT candidate Chencho Dorji had misused gewog funds. The case was dismissed by the DEDSB for lack of evidence on June 24, 2013.

DPT’s Mongar coordinator Dorji Leki filed a case on July 1, 2013 alleging that Sonam Dorji of Tagchhu residing in Thimphu bribed three voters of Tsakaling with Nu 500, Nu 600 and Nu 700 and a gho each. The dzongkhag dispute settlement body, based on the investigation report and hearing conducted on July 2, 2013 found that Sonam Dorji tried to influence one of the voters. Its decision issued on July 3, 2013 was to impose on Sonam Dorji a fine of the daily minimum wage rate for thirty days and the gift and cash to be forfeited. This case was received on the last day of decision by the DEDSB, and is currently being looked into by the central dispute settlement body.

In addition, the Media Arbitrator has filed a case by The Bhutanese against Kesang Wangdi, DPT’s Khamdang-Ramjar candidate, and warned Kesang Wangdi on June 26, 2013 for his wrong comment that “The Bhutanese paper was banned by the government for breaking the laws” during the Public Debate onJune 23, 2013.

The Media Arbitrator is also currently looking into a complaint related to media and advertisement and reminds the general public and all stakeholders that an appeal against the decision of a dzongkhag dispute settlement body has to be filed within five days of the decision and within two days of the Central Dispute Settlement Body’s decision.

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