Political Parties across the board have welcomed the Gyelpozhing verdict of the Mongar Dzongkhag court which has held the Speaker, Home Minister and the 14 plot allotment committee members as being guilty. They have also questioned the OAG’s original assessment of there being no case.
Political parties say they trust the judiciary
While Social media users opined that the verdict was not up to the mark citing the old case of a monk who was charged with fourth degree felony and convicted for illegal possession of tobacco political party representatives said they trust and respect the decision of the judiciary.
President of Bhutan Kuen-Ngyam Party (BKP) Sonam Tobgay said “We trust the judiciary and I assume they must have passed the verdict accordingly ensuring professionalism and justice.”
He also said “being able to take two high profile personalities to court has exhibited confidence in the rule of law. We congratulate ACC and also thank the DPT for their cooperation.”
Asked for his opinion on doubts over the two ministers’s political candidature for 2013, Sonam Tobgay said it is the mandate of ECB “but as a political party we will keep a close watch ensuring all electoral laws are adhered strictly.”
Spokesperson of Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) Dr Tandi Dorji said “we have full trust and confidence in our justice system and that they will make the right decisions. We have the constitution and laws in place so we respect every decision made by the court of law.”
“If there are any corruption charges against any of our members, we will fully abide by rules and laws of the country,” he added.
Vice president and spokesperson of the opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MP Damcho Dorji said, “we respect the verdict of the Honorable Mongar Dzongkhag Court. We also appreciate the expeditious way in which the case was adjudicated.”
“It is not important whether the penalty is reasonable or not. What is more important is that the due process of law has taken its course and come to its logical conclusion. If the ACC or the defendants are not satisfied with the verdict of the Court they have right to recourse to appeals as per the law. They are equally entitled to the protection of the law. So let the appellate Courts decide whether the verdict is reasonable or not,” Mp Damcho Dorji said.
The OAG, in its ‘opinion’ controversially found no legal basis to pursue the Gyelpozhing case in court, in September 2012.
The OAG had stated that beneficiaries of the plots are not guilty of any crime, having been allotted plots by a legally constituted government authority.
In its recommendations, the OAG advised that the government take appropriate administrative actions against members of the committee as deemed necessary.
The OAG also defended the Speaker and the Home Minister against ACC’s suspension order issued to the two.
When asked for his comments on the Mongar court verdict, Attorney General Phuntsho Wangdi said he hasn’t read the judgment yet. He was not available for comments by later when the judgment was made available in the media.
A few politicians that The Bhutanese talked to said OAG as a democratic institution should not have interfered in the case which involved individuals and not the government. They also said the government must not undermine the roles of democratic institutions.
DNT’s Dr Tandi Dorji said “the OAG made a blunder as they said there was no case and the OAG or the government also needs to understand where the roles of a democratic institution begins and where it ends. The government should not undermine the role of OAG for personal gains or just because two of their MPs are involved in the case.”
Asked if the Attorney General should resign, he said “the attorney general is a responsible person and he should make his decision on his own.”
“It’s high time that we take responsibility and be accountable for all our own actions. In this particular case, we don’t know who will hold the Attorney General accountable,” Dr Tandi Dorji said.
The Opposition Party expressed obvious doubts over the OAG’s decisions. MP Damcho Dorji said “the OAG is directly under the government and answerable directly to Lyonchhen. So anything that is done by the OAG is presumed and deemed to have been directed and instructed by the PM or the Cabinet. Therefore, the government should be held accountable for directing the OAG to give a clean chit to the case if we are to hold the OAG accountable.”
BKP’s Sonam Tobgay said “this is something the OAG as an institution should reflect seriously upon. OAG is one of the strong constitutional bodies and must be developed worthy towards laying strong foundation of democracy.”
However, the Speakers supporters and party members in his constituency are not happy with the verdict.
Lobzang Tashi, 46, of Rajkhar said: “I just wonder if such charges are proven and true, why were they given a clean chit before? The issue of land is almost decades old. It is a game being played so that he cannot contest.” He also said, “no one will drop support for him today even after the verdict and the Mongar court should revisit their verdict.”