Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering

PM explains how OAG provision got into CS Reform Bill

One of the big mysteries in the recently concluded session was on how the Civil Service Reform Bill had Section 31 which said, ‘The Office of the Attorney General shall compound petty offences in accordance with the compounding rules.’

The section has nothing to do with the Civil Service reforms as noted by the National Council which removed it and then it was supported by the lower house too.

The NC gave 10 reasons to remove the clause citing lack of check and balances on powers of OAG, large number of cases to be decided by OAG, rule of law, accountability, political influence, conflict of interest, rise in crime rate and people with criminal antecedents joining the public service. 

The Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering said, “I am aware about the issue of the authority of OAG to compound cases. We discussed on this before the Bill going to the Parliament. It is not directly related to Civil Service reform yet OAG explained to us why it was needed and I also agreed with their justification.”

Lyonchhen said in 2020 police had about 3,000 plus cases and only 1,100 came to the OAG, as the rest all where charge sheeted by the police. The cases that came to OAG were the more severe ones.

“Right now there is no way but to charge sheet once it comes to police and once charge sheeted everybody gets something and that actually bogs down the judiciary though most of them can actually be managed among themselves. Secondly some of them are only implicated but get two to three months and it blocks their future economic opportunities,” said the PM.

He said the OAG justified saying they can train a group of people who can look after such things.

“I agreed with that and yet I wanted to have judiciary on board and so I sent this document to the judiciary through my legal officer. They all discussed and said it will have some positive impact on the number of cases they get as most of them are misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor cases anyway,” said the PM.

“And then it was said the OAG should also not have a free hand on this and there should be very good rules and regulations on this on what all should be compounded and not be compounded,” he added.

The PM said the original proposal was for a judicial commission to endorse the rules but it went as cabinet from the committee.

The PM said the main point is what is there in the guidelines because as long as the guidelines is clear there will not biases and things will not happen behind the scene. He said it is also an extended form of Nangkha Nangdi which is a legal component in our system and happens before coming to court.

The PM said when he went to introduce it to the NC they were questioning him on the relevance of this clause in the Civil Service Reform Bill.

“I said it is not relevant and it need not be there. A CS reform can go on without this clause and so I said if you feel that this should not be there then take it off and we will support it,” said the PM.

Lyonchhen said they have now given 10 reasons and he can challenge rest of the points at any level, but he does not want to go into debating the rest of the points.

“Ultimately for the sake of clarity and working together as a team for this small country we agreed with them. Now if we had gone on to discussing every reason then we vote and that is where ego comes in. Ultimately if they want it out then they want it out,” said the PM.

The PM said OAG was not going to compound on all cases. The compounding authority is only on misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor cases as per the guidelines and even for these there would have been conditions.

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