Stronger Attorney General bill adopted by an overwhelming majority

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) bill 2014 was approved after 47 of 50 members present voted in its support on 12th.

The chairperson of the joint committee, Kuenlay Tshering, presented a total of nine clauses representing views from both the upper and lower house to the joint sitting of the Parliament. Though all the recommendation was endorsed by the committee, the members extensively deliberated on section 103 (A) pertaining to the vacancy of the OAG.

The clause 69 of the bill clearly states the Attorney General shall hold office for a term of five years, though some members of the committee argued that the fixed term would be inconvenient as an appointment of the Attorney General shall be made upon a recommendation of the Prime Minister.

The OAG Bill made it clear that the OAG would be accountable to both His Majesty the King and the Prime Minister. Earlier the focus was more on accountability to the PM. The OAG will no longer directly be appointed by the PM but it will have to be recommended by the PM and then appointed by His Majesty.

The section 80, which states the Attorney General shall submit an annual report on the activities of the office to Druk Gyalpo and to the Prime Minister, has been kept as making changes to it would have been against the constitution, the chairperson said.

Section 98 was put in on the recommendation of the joint-committee to provide some degree of protection to the OAG.  Earlier the PM could directly remove the OAG but now as per this section His Majesty the King may, on the recommendation of Lyonchhen, remove or require the Attorney General to resign on the five grounds: physical, mental or other incapacity of a permanent nature; incompetence to perform his or her functions; violation of the code of conduct; willful violation of any provision of law that substantially and adversely affects interest of the office; or conviction for any criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment.

The Khamdang-Ramjar representative, Sonam D Dorjee, said that section 27 which states that upon a receipt of the case for litigation or prosecution, ‘the office shall expeditiously review facts of the case’ should have a  fixed time to review the facts of the case. However, there was no support for his recommendation from other members.

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