After days of suspense the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) on Monday announced that, for the moment, it cannot accept the surrender of the Cabinet Secretary, Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of Ministry of Economic Affairs.
It has, in short, advised the cabinet to pursue the matter in accordance with the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 and the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations (BCSR) 2012 and to submit it along with details and evidences of the charges to the Commission.
The three Secretaries will remain on authorized absence with benefits until the matter is resolved according to the RCSC.
The RCSC in its release said that as per decision of the 18th Commission Meeting the RCSC is not in a position to accept the “surrendering” of the three Government Secretaries in view of various legal provisions of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 and the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations 2012.
The release says that Section 4 of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010 (CSAB 2010) states that all civil servants shall function in accordance with CSAB 2010 and the Bhutan Civil Service Rules framed by the Royal Civil Service Commission.
It also says that Section 6 states that the purpose of CSAB 2010 shall be to establish an independent and apolitical Royal Civil Service Commission responsible to manage the Civil Service of the Kingdom of Bhutan and as per Section 6 (d) to establish a unified, apolitical and merit based Civil Service that is professional, efficient, effective, transparent and accountable in the service of the Tsa-Wa-Sum.
Section 45 (k) of the CSAB 2010 states that a civil servant shall not be removed, demoted, terminated or administratively penalized without due administrative process.
Quoting the BCSR it says that as per section 19.2.6 of the BCSR 2012 the powers to impose any major penalty on EX1-EX3/ES1-ES3 civil servant shall be exercised by the RCSC.
Further, as per Section 19.2.7 of the BCSR 2012, the powers to impose both minor and major penalty on a Secretary to the Government, other officers of Secretary’s rank, and Head of the Autonomous Agency shall be exercised by the RCSC.
It says as defined in Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010, Secretary to the Government refers to the head of the Cabinet Secretariat or the head of a Secretariat of a Ministry appointed by the Druk Gyalpo as per the provisions of the Constitution.
Referring to the Constitution the release says that the above provisions uphold Article 26, Section 1 of the Constitution which states “There shall be a Royal Civil Service Commission, which shall promote and ensure an independent and apolitical civil service that will discharge its public duties in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner” and Article 26, Section 10 of the Constitution which states “The Royal Civil Service Commission shall function in accordance with the Civil Service Act of Bhutan”.
Meanwhile the Prime Minister’s office in a state said, “The government welcomes RCSC’s decision to keep the three secretaries on ‘authorized absence’ while it investigates the case.
It said that the government is committed to cooperating with RCSC and will provide all required ‘details and evidence of charges to the Commission to ensure that RCSC is able to discharge its responsibilities and that the three secretaries on ‘authorized absence’ receive a quick and just hearing, in accordance with the provisions of the laws.
Meanwhile it has been learnt that the Prime Minister signed an executive order a few days ago formally dissolving the Committee of Secretaries (CoS).
The government, in a press release issued on 11th December 2014 had announced its decision to hand over the three Government Secretaries to the RCSC, and also discontinue the Committee of Secretaries.
The main offence of the three Secretaries was to send a strongly worded letter from the Foreign Ministry to the Government of India on the behalf of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) without either consulting the Cabinet, the Foreign Minister or even the Prime Minister.
The letter was sent and signed by the Foreign Secretary on the instruction of the CoS after the MoEA Secretary had brought up the issue in the CoS meetings.
The matter of the letter basically focused on corruption allegations made by an Indian journal “ENERTIA” against a senior civil servant. The letter without any clearance from the RGoB made a series of claims on the impact of the articles by “ENERTIA” on the Indo-Bhutan friendship and also asked for strong action.