PM and ministers will return land in Gyelpozhing Township

The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y. Thinley and ministers who have land allotted to their names in the Gyelpozhing Township will voluntarily give back the land to the government.

“As a show of appreciation and support for the work of the ACC, shall voluntarily return to the government land allotted in their own or in the names of their immediate relatives,” stated the release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) report on Gyelposhing Land allotment submitted to the Office of Attorney General (OAG) on 31 August, 2012 concluded that no laws had been violated.

It also established that there is no land grabbing as well and all previous landowners had received full cash compensation or land substitution from the Kurichhu Power Authority long before the area was identified for township.

The release stated “further, as applying for land is a right every citizen enjoys in Bhutan, abuse of power or use of influence by those who applied and received land have also been ruled out”.

In the opinion of the OAG, Gyelposhing land allotment had taken place within the bounds of prevailing laws and practices and therefore, does not constitute a case of corruption under existing laws.

However it also stated that some lapses of procedural and ethical nature may have occurred on the part of the committees as certain procedures or norms were not strictly followed.

“While the OAG recommended administrative action against the Chairmen and member of the Land Allotment Committees, it has become clear that it is neither possible nor appropriate for the government to take administrative actions and states it is not practicable and appropriate to take administrative action on a matter that had taken place a decade earlier under a different system,” stated the release.

It stated further that many of the committee members are no longer in public service; the focus of the current government is to prevent corruption during its own term and in the future.

The chairmen of the committees have accepted moral responsibility for the decisions made by their committees, stated the release. Land, if allotted to the immediate relatives of any chairmen, shall be restituted to the government as recommended by the ACC adding since no laws have been violated, all other recipients shall not be required to surrender their plots.

In immediate response to this latest development the Opposition Leader (OL) Tshering Tobgay tweeted on his Twitter account “Prime Minister and Ministers do not have authority to return land as ACC’s ‘freeze notice’ is still in effect. The case must go to court.”

 

Background

The recent ACC investigations on the case concluded that 67 of the 99 plots allotted in the Gyelposhing were “illegal”.

The ACC issued a “freeze notice” forbidding any transactions on 75 of the plots and forwarded the case to the Attorney General in keeping with the ACC Act which is under section 128 which states OAG “shall undertake prosecution of person on the basis of the findings of the Commission for adjudication by a Court”.

Chapter 3 under section 12(a) of the OAG Act states that OAG shall “represent the Government in civil litigation and criminal prosecution before the Court of law” and furthermore, chapter 4, section 20 of the OAG declares that “The Attorney General shall be accountable to the Prime Minister”

This provision became the conflicting point of view as to whether OAG can rule over a case when it is accountable to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister, the Speaker and other Ministers have all been implicated in the Gyelposhing “land grab” case.

In the circular of ACC it was stated that government acquired 81.98 acres of land from 71 households of Drepong, Wangling, Ngatshang and Saling Gewogs for the Kurichu Hydropower Project (KHP) and the higher secondary school in 1990s.

An investigation commenced on 20 September 2011. Kashos, laws, rules, criteria and procedures on land in general and plots allotment in particular were examined. 3 field visits were made. Several physical verifications of the plots were conducted jointly with officials from the Municipal Corporation, Monggar. Past plots allotment in Khuruthang and Monggar towns were studied. Over 121 people were interviewed /interrogated.

The determining criteria for plots allotment in townships were (as deduced from the Kashos and the circular of the then Secretary of Ministry of Social Services): (i) General preference in plots allotment to be given to residents of townships; (ii) Those individuals residing in townships must own a legal business; (iii) Those individuals owning legal businesses themselves must be operating the businesses; and (iv) One family one plot irrespective of the number of licenses they possess. Lottery was only a procedure for plots allotment.

The efficacy of the criteria developed was put to test in Khuruthang and Monggar towns in 1996 and 1998. The set procedure was: (i) Preparation of eligible list of recipients by Dzongkhag Committee, (ii) scrutiny of the list by the competent ministry, (ii) submission of the list to His Majesty by the competent authority and (iii) distribution of plots to eligible recipients only on receiving the Royal Consent.

Investigation revealed that of the 99 plots allotted, 67 (14.12 acres) were illegal. Genja terms and conditions, signed between the local authority and the plot beneficiaries, were not enforced.

The case was forwarded to the Office of Attorney General on 31August, 2012.

About Tashi Deki

20 comments

  1. Wow! what next then? I like smart ministers and they all proved right that our ministers are smart enough to lead the nation but where…?

  2. prime minister

    it has become clear that it is neither possible nor appropriate for the government to take administrative actions and states it is not practicable and appropriate to take administrative action on a matter that had taken place a decade earlier under a different system,” stated the release.

    what a foolish brain they r haveing,
    THAN WHY CHORTEN VANDILISM ARE CAUGHT AFTER 10 YEARS BY THE LAW OF THE COUNTRY

  3. Good step but not enough. There were some people who were terminated from service for few thousand ngultrum in the past in addition to returning the misused money. If the matter ends by returning the land, then those people should still be in service. Laws were broken to suit ones need and that was proven by ACC.
    Both officials who allotted land to influential people and the beneficiaries should be given fair deal as per the law. Both the parties were ware that land allotment was illegal but went ahead.

    Hope ACC and most importantly the judiciary will decide what is best for the nation and for the benefit of present and the future.

    Just my thought

  4. “While the OAG recommended administrative action against the Chairmen and member of the Land Allotment Committees, it has become clear that it is neither possible nor appropriate for the government to take administrative actions and states it is not practicable and appropriate to take administrative action on a matter that had taken place a decade earlier under a different system,” stated the release.

    It stated further that many of the committee members are no longer in public service; the focus of the current government is to prevent corruption during its own term and in the future.

    This is tuly unfai and unjustice. Our Prime minister and Ministers are misusing their power. How can they think of returning the land as its is under freeze notice issued by ACC. Now we dont want land but we want Justice. If they can easily return the illlegally owned land on moral ground then the presioniers who were jailed before 2008 should be released by refunding what they have stolen and misused. This is now high time that we bhutanese has to come together and hold STRIKE and fix up those Ministers who takes decisions blindly. It is not very safe to live in this small country under corrupted Leaders. OL and NCs should give pressure on ACC to get the justice or otherwise encourage people of Bhutan to Hold STRIKE if justice is not done here. Present Tshogpon and Home Minister should be put behind bar as they are the main culprit.

    • Oye Haapa, I know you will always hate Lyonchhen but they are voluntarily giving the land back to the government. They have made their intention. It doesn’t mean the transaction will take place now. The Land Commission can do that after the “Freeze Notice” has been lifted. I know you won’t appreciate this government no matter what.  Remember OAG said no laws were broken, so this makes a different case than others. 
      Yes OL and NC members can pressure  ACC to file prosecution with the court but please be clear that it is not the ACC that will give justice. It will be the court that will provide verdict. 

  5. Motor Bike Rider

    It’s time for me to wear a mask and go around to face a public.

  6. Ideally, yes it should go to the court and clear the air for once and all. But, considering the case being old which has taken place almost decade back under different system, it is also fair proposal to surrender by influential people taking moral responsibility…..If it goes to the court, there won’t be middle ground. It will be either guilty or not and, in both cases, there will be the some complications….if guilty, all land has to be given back to government and people who have already constructed their houses will have difficulties in dismantling it…..if not guilty, government will not get back anything…even influential people will not surrender after court verdict…..Unlike constitutional case where there is crystal clear violation of law in terms of following procedure, these case is not very clear as already manifested by interpreting differently by different agencies and lawyers…..Anyway, the ball is in the court of ACC whether to move forward or stop here. 

  7. Well done ACC. Best of luck. Whatever the verdict, we appreciate your step to prosecute it. Shame on OAG.

  8. ACC definitely must prosecute the people involved – but they are only going to prosecute the chairmen and members of the land allotment committee. They should do it fast so that court can pass verdict. However there is a high possibility of Court ruling against the prosecution. 

  9. Jokers are leading our country! Shame on JYT.

  10. Mani Kumar Thapa

    Wow, this is truly GNH. Now in Bhutan you steal and when caught you return it and go free. First with Chang Ugen and now with Gylepozhing. Kudos to the PM and the DPT Govenment for this achievement as thieves, robbers and conmen are Grossly Happy.

  11. If Bhutanese government would like to believe that we have a vibrant democracy and all the fundamental laws under the constitution being upheld than it is time for rule of law as enshrined in our penal codes and constitution to prevail over all the wranglings and confusion related to this land case. Let the rule of law take its due course towards its logical conclusion for the sake of Bhutanese democracy and not let the incumbent government become both judge and jury over this case. Leave the verdict to the judiciary and that would be of great service to both democracy and citizens of Bhutan.

  12. If this is the case, I will rob the Bank ……………………. If somebody catches me I will simply return the amount I have taken …………..

  13. This is clearly a political stunt in the wake of up coming election. If only our people can read between the lines, understand and act appropriately can we make such stunt futile.

  14. It’s very clear that those severely power-starved MPs, whose heads, hearts and souls are dead bent on grabbing any business opportunities available, were indeed drawing their much needed inspiration and strength from the very deeds of their own leader. The image of DPT is deeply tarnished in the eyes of common people with one scam spewing out after another.

    The legitimacy of the gift that our high and mighty received can only and rightly be ascertained through a judicial process. And the ACC is our only hope that can make this process happen.

  15. In 2008 my family and extended family across the country voted for DPT because we believed that DPT would work for justice and equity. Over the last 4 years we are disappointed to know that the DPT leadership has extreme personal deficits in the areas of honesty and integrity and they are willing to say anything, even under oath, to advance their personal interests at the expense of the country and people.

    The DPT leadership has seriously undermined the rule of law.

  16. Jamyang Thinley

    Haha very funny…..n poor we de bhutanese……. dey can do wateva dey want n if it wud have been done by a citizen den we wud be already behind de bars……. sad for such leadership existing in dis so called GNH country….. 

    • sad to learn all dis things……….our country is being leaded by such leaders…rlly gotta think….for de upcoming election we de bhutanese….

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