MoEA Minister also refutes allegations made against him by the Opposition
Reacting to the stand taken by the Opposition party on the RCSC’s decision to reassign the three secretaries, the Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said that it was meaningless on one hand and damaging on the other hand.
“They start by saying that they appreciate the decision of the RCSC and then immediately start attacking the RCSC and the government,” said the PM. The PM also criticized the Opposition for challenging the RCSC’s decision by asking for the full reinstatement of the three secretaries to their original posts.
The PM disagreed with the Opposition’s attempt to bring the National Council into the issue saying that the Cabinet was already directly accountable to the National Assembly where the issue could be discussed.
He clarified that the government had not taken any decision on the matter and had only referred the matter to RCSC.
Stressing on the need to let Constitutional bodies play their role the PM said, “Democracy has checks and balances and it is only the RCSC who can investigate the issue and give the penalty. We may agree or not agree with the decision but we have to allow the RCSC to fulfill its constitutional mandate and there has to be closure.”
“It is more important to work honestly together,” he added.
The PM said, “As the government collectively and individually we may not agree that the CoS secretaries acted in good faith but we have to let the checks and balances play out and though we can appeal we have decided to bring the matter to a closure.”
The RCSC as per a press release issued on 28th February had stated its decision to reassign the three secretaries. The RCSC reasoned that given the case it could neither go to one extreme of terminating the secretaries or on the other hand reinstating them back to their original posts.
The Opposition, in a Press release on its Facebook page issued on 3rd March, while appreciating the RCSC’s decision asked action to be taken against the cabinet for not following procedures and laws in the case of the three secretaries.
They said that the cabinet should be held fully accountable for any coordination issues and that the three secretaries should be reinstated. It said the action by the cabinet would set ‘an unhealthy precedence whereby the Lhengye Zhungtshog of the day can compromise the autonomy and independence of the RCSC and get away with blatant violation of the provision of the Constitution, the RCSC Act and the BCSR’.
The Opposition also called for action to be taken against the Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and the intervention of the NC as the house of review.
Meanwhile Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk gave a detailed clarification of his role and stand on the issue.
He said that at no point did he deny discussing the Enertia articles with MoEA Secretary. He said that while he had given the go ahead to the secretary to write to RCSC on a former civil servant K.B Wakhley he had asked the secretary to not write to the Government of India on the Enertia Magazine articles.
“I asked the secretary to hold on for two reasons. One was that writing to GoI would require more reflection and deliberation and also more information was emerging and potentially would emerge and the facts were not yet established,” said the minister.
The minister pointed out that despite this, the matter, unknown to the cabinet was taken up in the CoS and over a period of 4 meetings in five to six months the
decision to write to GoI was made. He said there was no approval from the PM, the Cabinet or even the Foreign Minister.
“I have been accused (by the Opposition) of misleading the nation in my statement to the Press on 12th December 2014. When I spoke then I represented the view and decisions of the cabinet on the secretaries who without permission had sent a letter with strong tone and language to the friendly Government of India. We believed it breached several norms, regulations and rules and so we acted as in good faith as ministers in the larger interest of the county,” said the minister.
He pointed out that RCSC examined and established the facts of the matter and had decided to reassign the three secretaries.
“We may not agree ( for reassigning) but in respect for the independence and autonomy of a constitutional body, we welcome and respect it,” said the minister.
The Home Minister Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji expressing the official position of the government said that the government respects the decision of the RCSC and is happy with it and has no reservations on the judgment.
However, Lyonpo Damchoe Dorji said that the government was quite amazed at the Opposition party which seems to have very little respect for the decision of the RCSC especially after the Commission had looked into the matter in an in-depth manner and had given reasoned decisions.
He said though the Opposition had the full right to go to the media by issuing a press release but be it on this issue or others they never even bothered to discuss the matter with the government first.
“If they were really serious about CoS and the decisions on the three secretaries they should have given more logical justifications on how justice was not meted out and how cabinet has violated provisions of the Constitution or RCSC Act. We also regret the fact that they tried to pull in NC which is an apolitical organization,” said the minister.
He said that the Opposition was neither doing its job seriously nor was it sincere in showing the true picture to the public.