Following an administrative action by the land commission (NLC) two legal officers under the investigation and dispute settlement division were transferred to the Office of Attorney General (OAG) for insubordination and unpunctuality.
On 25 May, one of the legal officers informed his immediate boss (officiating head) for a leave of absence since he had some planned activities. However, the boss did not approve his leave and asked him to seek permission from a higher authority.
The legal officer took the leave any way but prior to departure for his leave he informed the chief administrative officer and went on leave for five days.
The other legal officer was away because he received a call from his village saying that his sister was seriously ill and also since it was a Sunday.
So he called the officiating head to seek leave and also informed the Personal Assistant (PA) of the officiating head of his division about his leave and to later inform the boss.
On return from their leaves, two pages of warning letters which demanded for an explanation was issued to the two legal officers. The letter was copied to the Human Resource Committee (HRC).
The legal officers replied accordingly and both of them justified their stand and the letter was copied to HRC along with the secretary.
Later the two legal officers were called and they explained their reasons to the secretary but he had asked them to ‘beg sorry’ from their boss and resolve the matter.
After that the atmosphere was back to normalcy.
Then after a month on a pedestrian day, one of the legal officers was late to the office by 30 minutes and since it was a rule for every staff to sign the attendance register he went to do just that. To his surprise he noticed that ‘A’ was marked beside his name and that of his colleague, the other legal officer.
After three weeks, the matter was reported to HRC and during the HRC meeting both the officers were called. Interestingly, one of the committee members of the HRC was the officiating head.
The committee asked for explanations from the two officers and instantly the decision was taken against two of them.
There was pay reduction for the unauthorized leave, and they were reprimanded for insubordination and were ‘surrendered’ to the OAG.
Not happy with the action taken against them, the two legal officers appealed to HRC of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) who then had upheld the charges of the HRC of the land commission.
The term ‘surrender’ was changed to ‘transfer’ and the HRC of RCSC cautioned the land commission’s HRC to be more professional.
This was because there was conflict of interest as the problem was with the officiating head and he was also a member of the HRC taking the decision against the two officers.
One of the legal experts said when for a minor mistake the two officers were penalized then why was the officiating head not charged but just ‘cautioned’.
“Where is the equity and justice,” he questioned.
Chencho Dema / Thimphu