OAG gives a clean chit to the Gyelpozhing case

Says no laws were violated and there is no legal basis to pursue the case against anyone

Twenty days after the Gyelpozhing land case investigation report was submitted by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), in its ‘opinion’ found no legal basis to pursue the case through court.

Considering its importance and urgency OAG’s ‘opinion’ on the high profile case has been ascertained after fifteen days of reviewing the case by five lawyers, none of whom had any association with the case related individuals. A nine-page document was posted on the OAG’s website.

Earlier the ACC in its report had said, “The Plots Allotment Committee undermined the rule of law and the principle of due diligence, fairness, equity, transparency and check and balance. Most of the members acquired plots in the names of their spouses/relatives, while people who lost their land for the township development were deprived of land even upon repeated request to the Dzongdas.”

In addition to that land which was not part of the town plan and not meant to be allotted was given away in acres. This whole act according to ACC was committed by violating various laws and procedures which included Thrimzhung Chhenmo, Land Act of Bhutan 1979 and Penal Code of Bhutan.

ACC based on its more than one year long investigation declared 67 of the 99 plots to be illegal.

The OAG report says that on the issue of the legality of the Gyelpozhing plot allotment committee and its decisions were in not in contravention of any law.

With regard to ACC’s allegation that the committee had introduced additional criteria during the allotments with presumption that this has been done solely for the benefit of certain section of the public, the OAG said that unless the committee had prescribed criteria and acted in ways that were contrary to the objective of the circular, it was within the powers of the committee to lay down additional criteria as may be deemed necessary.

On ACC’s charges of forgery and deceptive practice against the chairman of the committee 1999-2002), National Assembly (NA) speaker Jigme Tshultim, Mongar Dzongda at the time, attorney general’s observation is that the facts of the case failed to correspond to the legal provisions cited by the commission for criminal sanction.

The commission had cited NA 1-2 of the 1953 Thrimzhung Chhenmo, which pertains to forgery of signatures and making fake documents and seals.

In the NA speaker’s case, OAG’s opinion was that the beneficiary of the plot, against whose name the application he allegedly signed, was in fact the beneficiary himself.

On charges against the NA speaker for sale of government land, based on KA6-20 of the 1979 Land Act, the OAG opined that it doesn’t bar an empowered authority of the government such as local government authorities to engage in such transactions.

Another charge against the speaker by ACC was for illegally registering plots under KA 12-10 of the 1979 Land Act. The specific provision states, the person who acquired through deceit someone’s land for sale to a third individual, would be liable to pay the government that amount.

The OAG’s opinion is that the provision was irrelevant to the Gyelpozhing land case, as it pertained to illegal land registration between two private individuals and not between a legal government entity and private individuals.

In the OAG’s opinion the charges leveled against the plot allotment committee members failed to correspond to the legal provisions.

According to OAG, charges against Lyonpo Minjur Dorji of official misconduct as the then Mongar Dzongda under the penal code did not merit prosecution, because of lack of evidence to prove criminal intent to derive personal gain.

On the issue of illegal allotment of plots from government land on the right bank of Kurichu, OAG said that it was under the control of the Kurichu project and handed over for township development. The OAG report says “the question of the committee illegally allotting plots from outside the township area does not arise.”

With respect to ACC’s question on allotment of different sizes of plots, the OAG stated that there are no laws that prescribe uniformity in size of urban plots, commercial or residential for any township across the country. The matter, the report stated, was usually in the discretion of concerned authorities, based on specific plans and local circumstances.

ACC’s report reflected 67 of the 99 plot beneficiaries were illegal; the OAG’s opinion states the beneficiaries of the plots are not guilty of any crime, having been allotted plots by a legally constituted government authority.

It stated that procedural requirements were followed and payments for the plots as charged were made by the beneficiaries and that the onus of establishing the legality of plot offers does not lie with those applying to buy the plot.

OAG wrapped up stating that there is no legal basis for restitution of the 67 plots or repayment of fines. Actions whether to seize plots of those who failed to build on allotted plots, within stipulated time, OAG stated is an option for the government to exercise, including getting refunds from those, who availed the kidu of timber.

OAG said in a press release that no case of land grabbing was found and acquisitions were carried out fairly in accordance with the laws and the prevailing practices at the time by the government. It also stated that there is nothing substantive in the ACC investigation findings that establish influential people as having misused power and authority to avail plots.

In its recommendations, the OAG advised that the government take appropriate administrative actions against members of the committee as deemed necessary.

A legal expert in the capital said that The Bhutanese talked to said that under the ACC Act the ACC can take over the prosecution of the case if it is not satisfied with the OAG report.

Another senior legal expert said, “It is not the business of the OAG to declare people innocent as it is for the court to say so. OAG should have charge sheeted the case and let the court come to a decision if laws were violated or not.”

“This case at the current rate will undermine democratic institutions and also the very necessity of law,” said the senior legal expert.

A Judge said he wouldn’t be able to comment in detail as the OAG report reflects only the fact that there is no legal basis to pursue the matter through court but no ‘in-depth elaboration’.

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25 comments

  1. OAG knows very well that the other side of the wall is extremely stronger then the public cry.

  2. Well there is no surprise here. Who were we kidding? This was expected. This case was like going on a head on collision with a bull dozer. OAG chickened out before even trying. This just highlights the double standards we have in our country. This is a win for the goons.

  3. Administrative lapses is defined in GNH term as “corruption of VIPs in Bhutan.” Influential people can never do wrong in Bhutan. A minister’s son beats a woman, no case, MOH corruptions, no case, wrong parking by VIPs is right, rape, murder, name anything is right. When a cashier is caught he is sentenced to not less than 10 years in jail. Ministers bring in cigars, it is legal, when an ordinary mane brings in he is jailed. The police chief beats ate, he is right, when I beat I am jailed. 

    Wangdu dzong on fire whether to hide bills or truth.  

    This is how my country is developing. 

    • i second Yangzom, why the OAG defend individuals and attacking the committee members, when the ACC and the public knew the truth and the all the world knew that it was illegal. There is always difference between haves and have nots, big n small. More corruption arises from the influential people and they are the ones enjoying the fruits of people of bhutan and the their wants are unlimited, whats this crap GNH! The GNH never existed for the public. 

  4. ” Fortune favors the BRAVE “. There is nothing wrong in OAG’s findings. If ACC is not satisfied, they can take back the case. We will see who will win. In the Court also only human beings are workings and not super beings. Every lawyer has his own judgement as much as we feel about this case.

  5. Simple logic, if it was legally done then why the people engaged in this case..transacted property in the name of their spouses, mates and relatives? While doing this they knew that they were doing something wrong but tried to cover in vain. Kencho sees the truth but waits. OAG is branch of government and we can’t expect the it suicidal prosecution. Yesheypai da(arrow) chab sa me thong, pho sa thong.

  6. This decision by OAG questions the legality of the institution of ACC and its independence of course through Royal Kasho. If OAG as the legal arm of the government pardons the old ‘goons’ I see heydays for lot of ‘goons’ to come up in future and the time will come when all poor people will have to climb up the tree to tell the visitors that they have no land even to walk the footpaths.

    As a concerned citizen, I was of the opinion that there is no link between ACC and OAG because the issue concerns the individuals and not government in whom lies OAG as the legal representative of the government when issues related to the government is being raised. I strongly believed OAG representing the government in its fight against Opposition on the issue of the legality of vehicle tax but not definitely on this issue of ‘land grab.’

    If the ‘goons’ as this escape the due process of law, then I am sure His divine intervention should be sought because the land grab is an issue of great magnitude which should not be pardoned at all and is clearly an issue where rules have not been strictly followed. If we carefully look at the names that ACC made public, no one is eligible for land except those who reside in the locality. Going through several kashos and supporting documents that were posted on the cabinet web to fend the ‘goons’ goes only to say that due process have not been followed.

  7. Sonam,I agree what you have cited as result  public is losing   faith in this Government because Justice is almost dead and the case looks like cover up.This case should be reviewed again to restore to gain public confidence.Right now public are boiled with anger and one day it will explode.In the case of Lyonpo Minjur Dorji and Dramtse Dratsang land the Trulku holding should be seized immediately as they were involved in corruption case.LMD case should not dropped because he is also one of the officer involved in gross misuse of power.Mostly general public has lost faith in  Sungtrul Trulku  and his Dharma Teachings.Public is eagerly waiting for justice to prevail in a first democratic elected country as Tendrel.

    • Drukpa, There is one Trulku called Lungten Trulku who has collected donations from Custom Officer,Druk sherig ,Businessman,civil servants,etc for the construction of Lhakhang at Bae Langdra…while we rejoice collecting donation and making lottery busineess from all walks of life for the benefits of Dharma.I have seen mostly in Phuntsholing Town talking instead of practicising Dharma.He talks about the business of Tshethar and its effect.I don’t know whether he is using the money for his personal  purpose,woman and others.There is a fishy thing going over there and i wonder who will check his accountability. He may be amassing the wealth of Fortune in his accounts like Indian Swami. Nation People Wake up before donating the money  and supporting to such Trulku. Tenzin lamsang, do  needfull research on this.

      • I guess we can donate directly to meditation practitioner rather than loitering person who is always stays at P/ling pretext of searching the jinda.He looks like he has broken his samaya and Dompa from his Guru. 

      • I guess we can donate directly to meditation practitioner rather than loitering person who is always stays at P/ling pretext of searching the jinda.He looks like he has broken his samaya and Dompa from his Guru.

      • I guess we can donate directly to meditation practitioner rather than loitering person who always stays at P/ling pretext of searching the jinda.He looks like he has broken his samaya and Dompa from his Guru.

  8. Well, if OAG says no rules are broken, there is need for deep analysis. There are no better legal experts team than OAG except courts.

    In almost all country, OAG is under government. In United States, even judges are appointed by President who is head of government. Does it mean that US Judges have conflict of interests to try president and his secretaries.

    To say, OAG have conflict of interest is overstatement from people who have vested interests or those who are carried away by words of people with vested interests. OAG is legal advisor of government on government issues not on personal issues of those governing.

    OAG shall look after public and government not corrupted officials. Corrupted officials are enemy of public and government, so to state OAG has conflict of interest is nothing short of defaming them.

    Even chairman of founders of sacred constitution who himself was accomplished justice might have written the constitution in another way, had they think there will be conflict of interest.
    His Majesty too would have suggested otherwise if he feels it is conflict of interests. Just to state conflict of interests to drive the points home is unacceptable even for political interests.

    Let the experts do their own works. If ACC is dissatisfied, they are free to present their case to court. The findings of ACC is also to be scrutinized. Just because they are in favour of public opinion doesn’t mean that they are right. Besides, how many legal experts viewed that case in ACC….

    If ACC thinks they dig case retrospectively, then they should try even Zhabdrung for war crimes while uniting this great nation of ours.

    • it is not about retrospective, it is about the quality of our leaders…1. Honesty… 2. Trustworthiness 3. integrity.
      how can we trust a man who stool properties by abusing his office. example: former mongar dzongda Jigme Tsheltrim, he abuse his power as head of committee, Pm as Home minister and former Mongar dzongda Minjur dorji all of them abuse their power… all have one qualitiy in common….total dishonesty.. why? they all cheated the poor people and grabbed lands for themselves. If it was taken from rich people it wouldn’t have matter much but taking the one or two acres land from poor and claming as legal.. legal my foot….It is going to be a bad sign for democracy if this case is not solved properly.. as it involves all our capable leaders or politicians.

  9. ‘OAG gives a clean chit to the Gyelpozhing case’ this headline seems to be not right as only court can give clean chit not OAG. May be this paper watch lots of NDTV

  10. sinister ministers at work?

  11. As per my assumption the OAG has all the qualified Lawyers and their findings on the ACC report will be same even if other hundred lawyers from other agencies review it. Like international accounting system, the basics of the law must be same and all our lawyers must have studied the same language and subjects. Thus I believe that interpretation of ACC report by the lawyers other than OAG con be same.

  12. It is indeed interesting to see the clean chit given by OAG to the people involved in land grabbing at gyelposhing. The case in this scenerio was against individuals and never against the govt, it is the people like PM and others who gave this angle of Govt VS media… it’s funny how cunning people can manupulate things for one’s benefit. example PM (the GNH man).
    If this case is not given it’s due respect and if the verdict is not transparent, i feel it is going to shake up the very foundation of Democracy, which had been gifted by our beloved king the 4th druk Gyalpo and people will be relectant to trust the very leaders whom they voted to power. Some section have aruged saying this is an old case but here it is never about 20 yrs ago or 50 yrs ago but the point here is about
    ” Integrity ” , “honesty” and ” trustworthiness ” of the so called golden generation leaders of Bhutan who’s leader is PM. If a theft steals 1 rupee, he is as much a culprit as the one who steal 1000 rupees.
    OAG, dear….do something for the love of nation or else closed down ur office and pack up ur things and buy some bangles from jaigoan and put them on ur hands, will remind u how much a man you are each time they make noise.

  13. Wonder Never Ceases

    Dear all readers, I also think this gyelposhing land case should be dealt by ACC only,not by OAG. Since OAG is only responsible for government case but not for a such case like gyelposhing land scam which is very personal and there is nothing related with OAG get involve into this case.Now, we public can easily sense that why OAG is involved in this case. In public view, OAG should be equally penalized for taking this case as a government case since this case is totally different(Personal) Will now,anyone of us will vote for coming 2013 election for DPT?? Will now public will trust to DPT govt for their false promises and probing fake quality of leader? NO WAY!!! non of us will vote for DPT govt in 2013 election and we have already lost trust on you and no matter what sort of explanation you make it public now we are no more stupid.But may be your supporters like OAG and your relatives will vote for you.Now,we are regretting for choosing a corrupted leader and government but no far 2013 is approaching.We have what we have within my heart!!!!

  14. Who says, 1,000/- is equal to 1. Can Nu. 1 Buy worth Nu.1,000? Then pay equal salary to Secretary and peon. The logic goes like this! Hahahahaho!

    Our democracy is not stable, that is why it is shaky.

    How can we trust everyone when we can not trust our own children or relatives these days. Even if other parties come to form the Govt. I predict the worst, because our needs, wants, greed’s, desire, hatred keep on multiplying and we never realize that others are doing their best. We always try to cover our own folly and blow out others small mistake which every human commits.

  15. This case is not like the first constitutional case where opposition prosecuted against government policy of tax revision on vehicles. Now ACC should prosecute these people involved in this case if they are convicted individually, but not the DPT party. When one does wrong we should not prosecute all, individual correction is required.

  16. This case is not like the first constitutional case where opposition prosecuted against government policy of tax revision on vehicles. Now ACC should prosecute these people involved in this case if they are convicted individually, but not the DPT party. When one does wrong we should not prosecute all, individual correction is required.

  17. How can ACC do everything? If given the chance they may even want to form the Govt.!

  18. for my country

    I think people involved in making so called “OAG opinion” will have to be answerable to the court. I am sure gelopshing Land scam is here to stay. And all those people involved will have to be prosecuted including OAG officials if found otherwise.

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