The Speaker Jigme Tshultim, Home Minister Lyonpo Minjur Dorji and 14 plot members were convicted by the Mongar District Court on charges filed by the Anti Corruption Commission in the Gyelpozhing land case.
The National assembly speaker, Lyonpo Jigme Tshultim was given a prison term of two and half years by the Mongar district court yesterday after he was found guilty of illegally allotting plots to 23 individuals (see list on Pg 11) during his term as the Mongar Dzongda and Chairman of the Plot Allotment Committee of Gyelpozhing in 2001 and 2002.
Besides imprisonment, the verdict read the plot allotted to his maid Nima Zangmo must be given back to the government.
The Speaker has been booked for official misconduct, fraud, forgery, and deceptive practices.
Along with the Speaker, the Mongar court also sentenced the Home Minister Minjur Dorji to a year in prison for the offence of official misconduct in allotting plots to Kharchu Dratsang, Dremitse Dratsang and to Kuenzang Dema, the wife of a Kurichhu project engineer during his tenure as the Mongar Dzongda in 2005 and 2006 and also as the Chairman of the Plot Allotment Committee.
The court ordered that these plots must be returned back to the government.
The Home Minister, Minjur Dorji was charged for the offence of official misconduct.
The court ruled that the Speaker and the Home Minister had failed to abide by the fourth Druk Gyalpo’s Kasho issued back in 1987 and the allotment criteria set by the Works and Human Settlement Ministry.
Both of them can pay Thrimthue in lieu of prison term since it is a compoundable offence.
Whether both the speaker and the minister will appeal to high court or not is not known.
When contacted the Speaker said, ““I am waiting for the official court verdict. I have to read the verdict.”
Meanwhile, the plot allotment committee Secretary, Dechen Singye, was also awarded one year imprisonment. He was found guilty of allotting a plot in the name of his sister during the Gyalpoizhing land allotment; the incident took place when the Speaker was the chairman of the committee.
Appealing to the Drangpon, Dechen Singye requested if his prison term could be deducted as he is still under suspension from his government job for the past five months but the request was denied.
The 14 plot committee members were given a one year sentence for not carrying their duties with diligence.
The members can also pay thrimthue in lieu of the prison term.
Out of 18 total members, two are studying abroad, and two have been acquitted as the drangpon had given them the benefit of doubt. Though both of them were part of the committee but they had not signed the minutes of the meeting.
There were mixed feeling views from the people in the Mongar, while some were happy with the verdict some others expressed disappointment over the verdict.
A total of 95 cases were registered with the Mongar district court, of which 16 cases have been completed, two were withdrawn as ACC could not get any evidence against them and two were out of station.
The Drangpon confirmed that for the 75 pending civil cases, which are illegally allotted plots in Gyelpozhing; separate hearings will be conducted from April.
The convicted have 10 days to appeal to the High Court.
Name list of those who were illegally allotted land by the Speaker
1.Chencho Tshering who was not eligible and not present but was given a plot of 5,061.50 sq ft instead of a 4,648.32sqft standard plot size.
2.Chimi Dema (a civil servant was given a plot though Dechen Singye had marked as “not recommended”.)
3.Dowa Zangmo, (plot was care of Dr Ngawang Tenzin, Mongar referral hospital DMO then).
4.Jangchu Dema, (spouse of the then Lhuentse Drangpon Tshering Wangdi was allotted a plot, after she and her spouse approached the Speaker. She had picked up a blank paper during the lucky draw.)
5.A plot was allotted to Speakers daughter, Jigme Choden from a commercial area.
6.Then finance minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba, submitted an application 45 days after the lucky draw, requesting for bigger plots across the lake. He got a once acre plot.
7.In 2000, an application was submitted in the name of the Speaker’s maid Nima Zangmo for a plot, for which the Speaker prepared and forged the signature of Nima Zangmo.
8.Nima Zangmo stated she did not apply or know of any plot she owned at Gyalpoizhing, and that she had not authorized anyone to sign on her behalf. She was allotted 8,201.76 sq ft of land.
9.Pema Wangmo, who was represented by her sister-in-law at the draw, had picked up a blank paper, but, the Speaker gave her a plot.
10.Rinzin Dorji, the then RBP captain, Officer in-charge of Mongar, was absent during the lucky draw.
11. Sonam Lhaden had not participated in the lucky draw but was given a residential plot of 8,906.76 sqft.
12. As the then finance secretary, Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu had submitted an application requested for land to be registered in his son Sonam Norbu’s name. He was allotted 10,722.56sqft instead of 4,648.32sqft the standard plot size then in his son’s name. He had not come for the lucky draw.
13.The then RBG Colonel Kado had submitted an application in 1999 in the name of his son Sonam Tobgay. He was allotted a plot size of 10,593.39sqft instead of 4,648.32sqft. He also had not attended the lucky draw.
14. Sonam Yangchen had not come for the lucky draw but was allotted a plot size of 9,060.09sqft.
15.Dasho Tsheten Dorji, submitted an application on behalf of Tshering Pelden had not attended the lucky draw.
16.Then RSCS secretary, former Lyonpo Dr Jigme Singye’s spouse, Sonam Zangmo, applied in the name of their son in 2000. He was allotted 9,027.81sqft instead of 4,648.32sqft.
17. Former High Court judge, Jigme Zangpo, had been allotted a plot size of 5,373.12sqft instead of 4,648.32sqft.
18.Gyaltshen Wangdi, Health Ministry’s then liaison officer in Kolkata, had applied for a plot on the defendant’s instruction. He was not even in the list.
19.Prime Minister Jigmi Y. Thinley applied for a residential plot at Gyalpoizhing in 2002, when he was the then foreign minister. He was allotted 50 decimals of land.
20.Former Lyonpo Leki Dorji, the then communication minister, submitted an application twice for a residential plot in his daughter Sonam Leki Dorji’s name. He got land across the river.
21.The Speaker issued land ownership certificate, with false information to Tshering Zangmo, care of Tshewang Gyelpo, in the home ministry.
22.Sonam Gyeltshen was allotted a plot upon his request for consideration as “kidu”. He had not come for the lucky draw.
23.Supreme Court Chief Justice, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye applied for a plot in his daughter Pema Choden’s name. It was made to look if she had got the plot through luck draw.
The committee members slapped with imprisonment of a year each are
1. Tappo ( Dzongrab)
2. Tashi Norbu Sherpa (AE) MMC
3. Karchung (Assistant Dzongkhag Agricultural)
4. Namgangla (BCCI)
5. Khina Maya (District Health Officer)
6. Sangay Dorji (ADEO)
7. CL Das (DE)
8. Pelden Norgay (DE)
9. Rinchen Wangdi (DZFO)
10. Dorji Wangchuk (DLO)
11. Lok Nath Dahal – (FO)
12. Kinley Dorji (LRO)
13. Tandin Dorji (DAO)
14. Dechen Singye (Secretary)
Chencho Dema /Mongar