The Gyelpozhing case is most awkwardly positioned for the ruling party in view of the legal liabilities involved which could barricade its path to the 2013 elections.
Other than those who seek justice as is, with the resolution of the case, there are also those who stand to make political gains out of it, given that most of the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) big guns are involved.
The entire legal and political hullabaloo aside, right now the Gyelpozhing land scam is anybody’s hot topic for debate, online and offline.
The Bhutanese sought views from the opposition party, the aspiring political parties, and the common people. Everyone wanted the ACC to come up with the report before the elections or before the government dissolved.
From the Political avenue
The Opposition MP, Damcho Dorji said with the ministers in the ruling party should be concerned as legal issues could arise during the elections. And unless ulterior motives are at play ACC would have to resolve the case at the earliest.
Damcho Dorji said ACC has to make it clear to the people that they were not partial and at the same time if ‘these people’ feel there is nothing illegal then they should help the ACC come up with the report and finally justify it.
“More than all of these I think the moral responsibility of the government, who vouches for ’ zero tolerance to corruption’, should give an explanation to the country on what and why it happened. They should walk the talk,” said the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Gasa MP.
ACC’s delay also bred suspicions for many thinking minds that the government deliberately delayed the investigation process.
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT)’s Spokesperson, Dr Tandi Dorji said, “Justice delayed is justice denied and the whole of Bhutan awaits the truth. There should be no hierarchy I definitely feel that the people accountable should take responsibility as these people are not uneducated farmers”.
However he said maybe the government did not press the ACC as the commission is fearless, and would not be swayed.
With the issue of accountability coming into the picture, Dr Tandi Dorji said with what had been reported in media, the actions were against the law as these were people who had knowingly broken the law.
Druk Mitser Tshogpa (DMT)’s Spokesperson Dasho Penjor Dorji said it was the ACC’s mandate to do its job at the earliest possible. “Nobody is indispensible and it seemed to be a deliberate attempt of the commission to delay the case,” he said.
“The ACC owes it to the people and if the ACC was going to further delay the case then there should be a supervisory board or committee to see that ACC gets the job done.”
He said people are deprived of ‘equity and justice’ in this case and “it is very disturbing and disheartening to see the alleged people run the government”.
Dasho Penjor Dorji said what concerned him the most was that the accused were the custodians of law and they had joined the bandwagon and taken land.
Dasho Penjor who served as a Dzongda for 12 years in five different dzongkhags, said the criteria for the allotment of land was not set by the Dzongda as it was guided by the land Act and the Kasho, unless there was a green signal from the central committee.
The DMT spokesperson highlighted the conflict of interest in the case since the elite group involved in the case had breached laws to favor personal gains for themselves.
“Forget about participating in the elections, these people should take moral responsibility and immediately step down on their own accord instead of working off the ACC and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG),” said Dasho Penjor.
Bhutan Kuen-Ngyam Party (BKP)’s Spokesperson, Sonam Tobgay said if the allegations are true, then it was a major concern to each and every Bhutanese.
“While accountability is critical for a young democracy like ours, the manner in which accountability is ensured is also equally important. The desired end is to restore justice and also properly convey a deterrent message so that people are dissuaded from entering into such arrangements in future,” said Sonam Tobgay.
The BKP Spokesperson said if the case was proven beyond reasonable doubt that authority had been misused the people involved should be fully accountable as per the laws of the Kingdom.
He said the case was so important that the investigations should be completed in an orderly and systematic manner and that it was more important than a transient election.
“Delays always invite criticisms and could cause loss of faith in any concerned institutions. The case should be completed under the due process of law,” Sonam Tobgay said. “What is most important is that justice should prevail.”
If the ruling government has no influence on the process, the process would continue to its logical and just end.
“Perhaps the ones involved in the case should withdraw from participation in the next elections as a mark of their integrity,” said Sonam Tobgay.
Druk Chirwang Tshogpa’s (DCT) Spokesperson, Tandin Tshering, said if this case was not worked out then it was likely that similar incidences could occur in the future. “If the people accountable are guilty than it should be made public,” he said.
From the business lane and the communities
The Bhutanese spoke to people from various sectors but, under anonymity, because nobody wanted to tussle with the government in power.
“There are people languishing in jails for petty reasons and in the Gyelpozhing case the government is being lenient, laws should be uniform and the people convicted should pay for it,” said one of the hoteliers in Thimphu.
A businessman in the capital said that there was no reason for such people to stand for elections and this issue should be the number one criteria at the 2013 elections.
“This case should be made transparent by the ACC and the judges (whoever takes up the case)”.
The CEO of the Institute of Management Studies, Tenzin Lekphell said the truth or verdict should come out before elections as it involved politicians and leaders and ACC or high court should not delay the case.
“If they are not guilty or they are acquitted, they must contest in the 2013 election and it would not be fair to keep the case pending and not allow them in the upcoming election,” said Tenzin Lekphell.