Land Bill: Unconstitutional and Dangerous

It is a matter of great concern that the new Land Bill has provisions in it that is not only unconstitutional but also intrudes upon the Land Kidu powers of His Majesty the King.

As per the constitution only His Majesty the King has the authority to give Land Kidu under Article 2 Section 16 of the constitution.

The new land bill, which has been put up in this session of the Parliament has a clause where rehabilitation or resettlement land can be given by the cabinet. Resettlement land under the current Land Act of 2007 is only the prerogative of the Druk Gyalpo.

Also, this type of land falls under the Kidu land category as people going for resettlement for e.g in southern Bhutan are actually people who need and receive Kidu land.

Another matter of concern is that the entire composition of the National Land Commission has been changed making ministers or their appointees land commission members with the Prime Minister as the Chairman.

The Gyalpoi Zimpon who has an important role in the NLC as a representative of His Majesty the King has also been left out of the new land commission entirely. This is not advisable as thousands of destitute who are given land Kidu by His Majesty the King are processed through the office of the Gyalpoi Zimpon.

These legitimate and serious concerns are not to raise questions about the integrity of the current ministers but about the long term and far reaching implications of such moves. Leaving land to any politician or any political party which has to come and go every five years and is under strong pressure to hang on is highly risky.

There is also high risk of large scale corruption over land if politicians have so much say in the National Land Commission and also in the granting of Kidu land to individuals. This is not to say that corruption will happen today or under this government but we will in most probability have corrupt politicians and governments in the future.

Some of these corrupt politicians of the future could very well start allocating land to their party Tshogpas and supporters in prime areas. Party workers or relatives of corrupt politicians could suddenly find themselves resettled or rehabilitated in Thimphu or other prime areas on land worth millions. This is also a high chance of collusion with land resettlements being given under different names and for different reasons.

The question is not ‘if’ the above will happen but ‘when’ it will happen.

This is because going by the numerous land scams of the past like Gyelpozhing, Chang Ugyen case, High Level committee report case etc there are clear examples of how power can be abused to grab land even when laws don’t permit government agencies to give land to the influential.

However, if laws permit politicians to grant land under the guise of resettlement land then there will be a definite upsurge in land corruption, political favoritism and also political victimization.

Currently when His Majesty the King grants land Kidu what matters is how poor or destitute a citizen is and not to which political party he or she belongs to.

In the future with increasing politicization some politicians may want to know a villagers political affiliation before granting resettlement land.

There is also a high chance of large scale social destabilization under corrupt politicians in the future. This is because the government already has powers to seize any private land for government projects offering paltry compensation. There is very well a strong possibility of corrupt politicians seizing the land of people they don’t like or prime land they have an eye on and then giving it to resettle their own relatives or party supporters.

Also, it is highly inadvisable to let a group of ministers completely control the land commission as corrupt ministers in the future could abuse the enormous powers of the land commission, a commission which can change what goes into the thram of every Bhutanese citizen.

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18 comments

  1. Crappy a nalyses. Are you telling us that the people who are currently resettled in the south are destitute and poor? Is there any explanation as to why the resettlement in the prime areas in the south were given to the affluent section and to people who already had land? 

  2. It must stay with king. Politicians will definitely snatch away lands from poor people and also we know that they are involved in gelposhig land scam. So it is much safer with our Kning

  3. It must stay with king. Politicians will definitely snatch away lands from poor people and also we know that they are involved in gelposhig land scam. So it is much safer with our King

  4. • Cabinet will be making a big mistake to stretch their hands in the business of NLC
    • Cabinet is also making a big blunder by bringing the TCB under the direct control of Cabinet. What this indicates- these elected leaders would be under tremendous pressure from the group of a few business firms having subtle vested interest and their electorates thereby the Cabinet will be compelled to compromise their quality of decisions in the absence of proper check and balance system in the Cabinet. Bhutan cannot be another Bangkok where the dignity of both female and male have surrendered to the fast-making dollars business through tourism industry. Bhutan could invite more whites for more dollars: consequences -will result into moral degradation of both male and female in the move towards making fast dollars, we all know that’s has become reality in Bangkok; so we still have a choice to make: do we prefer a Bangkok model of tourism industry or we will have our own GNH model of tourism. We still have choices- if we need Bangkok model of Tourism, the best is to keep the TCB under the direct control of Cabinet so that these elected leaders can please business groups and their electorates by compromising their quality of decision and judgment; on the other hand, if we want our own GNH model of Tourism, I think, the TCB should be autonomous but need to establish strong institutional check and balance system, and Cabinet cannot provide that as it will change with every new government. But the way it is being designed currently, this policy will directly compromise with our overarching policy of GNH. Perhaps it may not be too late to review the proposals and think of a durable institutional alternatives to provide sound check and balance system for TCB and NLC.

  5. For the interest of the country and not the interest of the party, we need a proper check and balance system to be instituted which is provided by the Opposition Party in the NA; but in the Cabinet it is the ruling party that makes decision single handedly. We need to move things cautiously yet persistently and think of a broader interest beyond the party’s interest- this calls for review of the land and tourism issues. The Cabinet formed by the ruling government with its majority party will come and go but where is the institutions that is durable and provide continuity for check and balance. I guess more debate is required before taking any hasty decision on the issues of national importance which will have direct bearing on the social, history, economic, culture and political systems. Issues of NLC and TCB will have far greater implication of these factors which I have just mentioned and great bearing to GNHC policy, too; these are some of the most core sensitive issues that need careful consideration of our policy makers.

  6. This is really worrisome. Yes definitely its unconstitutional and goes agianst it. Granting of land kidu to the individuals won’t be fair as their will be political as well as relative inclination and cirruption will breed…turning the society into  choas…better not happen…

  7. The DPT govt has spent its tenure in office duplicating an autocracy where all the powers are to be centralized in the PM. So what was the point of HM introducing democracy in Bhutan? This govt has taken the DHI and REC and made them floating entities that report just to the PM. Taken over the TCB and are trying to take over the Kidu powers of His Majesty. 
    The landslide victory won by the DPT in 2008 has been the worst possible way to start our democracy. We already had a dictator-minded DPT leader who got 45 out of 47 seats and thus began the worst start to our democracy. Unfortunately, it seems that was really just the start and now we are facing a worsening situation in democratic terms. 

    With the RAA quiet, ACC unusually reticent and the Supreme Court still ‘under construction’, the scenario does not look very bright. In 2013, the citizens of this country need to think carefully, not behave like sheep with a head mentality, and ensure that we elect capable and honest candidates, regardless of the party they belong to. Elect common sense and some intelligence and we can have some good governance. Elect a party and you will have just politics. 

    • Could you lay out the alternate model of governance? You are telling a government should not have authority over anything yet govern the country? This really doesn’t a ring a bell unless you have an alternate practical theory of running the country by an elected government who has no authority whatsoever over anything. I have no knowledge nor can I make judgements over the Draft Land Bill but I believe the parliament will give a due deliberation before submitting for Royal Ascent.

    • So you want the people to vote PDP, how do you go and go about doing that, when the PDP people don’t even like their own party President. By the way, if you are in the PDP camp, please get your house in order before making these weird accusations. No matter what you say, the DPT won the elections and PDP lost.

    • Phuntsho, get your head clear: Kidu is a Royal Prerogative. What alternate model do you need than the existing one that simply separates State Powers from Executive Powers? This party is trying to grab every power. They even tried to reject the verdict of the Supreme Court over the arbitrary tax increases.

      Monk, it’s time to get your head out of the PDP/DPT argument. There are 6 parties now. And regardless of the the number, it’s obvious the DPT is incompetent. It’s time for them to go.

      • Tingting, please get your head clear first. You and the likes of you in here are jumping to conclusion without even giving an effort to authenticate the report made by media such as this paper. I do not buy the news that the Land Kidu powers have been given to the cabinet by the Land Bill. It certainly must be with some other land developmental issues that the cabinet and the government is taking care of. Land Kidu remains Royal Prerogative and everybody is aware of it, at least the government. So I do not buy the news. The media and some people are just trying to create a rift and a misunderstanding between the Palace and the Government. That is why, it is best to wait for the parliament to debate on it when concurrently we might be able to see the Land Bill ourselves. So please calm down and don’t make too much noise (tingting) by banging yourself. ‘Lol’. 

      • if i begin to make noise, it’s not going to be tingting. there’s going to be a lot of tangtang. 
        You’re right, my frustration is built around the report in this paper. But it clearly spells our the existence of a clause that says this very thing for rehabilitation land. That’s kidu my friend, the sole prerogative of HM.

        And the other circumstances such as the the NLC commission composition change, the NLC being kept out of the loop, and even the Gyalpoi Zimpon not being kept in the picture of the new bill (why all this secrecy?), the picture looks pretty darn shady to me.

        Wonder where you guys get all your optimism from.

      • If you want DPT to go, we also need an alternative party to vote for and as of now, the only viable party, the PDP is in a shambolic state of affairs, exactly why I said that they need to get their house in order. If they don’t do that, inspite of you hoping that the DPT will go away, that is not going happen. So whether you like it or not, it is about the DPT and PDP.

      • If it was just about party viability, fine you can have it your way. But the DPT has proven to be unconscionable, corrupted, and incompetent. I’m saying if things are to improve, there must be consequences. Only then will political leaders understand that they must do their best and their best better be good enough.

        If the DPT did a good job, I’d have no problem. I have no desire to be a politician. All I ask that is that those who get the power, don’t mess it up for the rest of us. The DPT has had its chance. Now they gotta go. 

  8. Hay Ting ting. I do agree with you, Every one knows the monk is talking in favor of DPT. But the question is not regarding the the political parties.
    Its regarding the cabinets taking over the land kidu from the king.
    Even after king having the full power regarding the land kidu, we read lots of land scam where PM and most of the Ministers are involved. People of Bhutan have learned a lot from this issue and this could be the reason why Speaker has put up his resignation after a hint from ACC. So ACC is waiting for Speakers resign from the post so that they can publish the investigation report, with out having to involve PM and other high profile.
    Cabinet taking the kidu power from HM is like asking the king to step down. So if that happens people of Bhutan may have to vote for the monarchy and not for political parties.

    Any way the land kidu should not be taken from HM and given to Cabinet as it could bring more corruption.

  9. queenzangchozel

    As long as the people’s government is given enough powers related to the matters of the country, like allocation of land, civil service matters, investment issues, etc our democracy will just be for the sake of a name.
    When Cabinet is given the power of allocating resettlement land it does not mean the Power of His Majesty is taken by the Cabinet. HM is the sole authority for everything in this country which every genuine bhutanese knows. I welcome this change in the land act. Certain levels of scams will exist be it under the HM or under the Cabinet. The issue is with the current set up of the commission without the government having any power related to land I don’t know how effective any government can be in developing the country.Land is one of the most important factors of production. Government must have control over it. The argument of having Zimpon in the Land Commission is a baseless argument of not being able to see beyond one’s nose tip. If the elected government sworn in by HM is not the representative of the KING zimpon is not a better representative. Bhutanese people must analyse carefully what the media report or write. We bhutanese know what is best for ourselves

  10. If this is the clause we should not let the clause to pass through the deliberation. There should not be such clauses and as reported it is seen before hand that there will be favoutism is the minds of cabinets. We have already seen some embarrassing legacy of some politicians in some of the land scam  

  11. The cabinet led by JYT in their quest for more power will lead Bhutan into a dark age all in the name of democracy. The way i see it – right now we have the perfect status quo (the perfect balance of power between the King, the people and the government). But now with the cabinet’s ambitions, it may have tipped the balance and will not bode well for the country. The four year old government is trying to undermine the hundred and five year old monarchy. 

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