The legal liabilities of the Gyelpozhing case

With a senior Election Commission official saying that politicians who have a court case registered against them, will not be allowed to participate in 2013 the nature of the potential legal charges against them in the Gyelpozhing case have taken center stage.

This is in the backdrop of ACC’s ongoing investigation confirming that land was grabbed and that both Royal Kasho’s and the 1979 Land Act were violated in Gyelpozhing.

At the center of this storm is the Speaker Jigme Tshultim, Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and finance minister Lyonpo Wangdi Norbu.

A senior ACC official on the condition of anonymity said, “The two main laws that would apply would be the then Thrimzhung Chhenpo and the Land Act 1979.”

This is based on the ‘retroactive law’ principle which first came up in the Phobjika case and simply means that a person has to be judged by the laws that were applicable at the time and not those that came later.

The Bhutanese also talked to some former and current judicial experts and luminaries on the charges and laws that would apply if ACC framed charges in the Gyelpozhing case.

According to the legal experts, the applicable charges would come under the Thrimzhung Chhenpo and the Land Act 1979 if ACC can show it has a case.

The Thrimzhung Chhenpo in one section states that in 1979, except for His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, all other citizens of Bhutan, irrespective of their rank, social status or official position were equal under the Thrimzhung Chhenpo.

A legal expert said that some major charges would come under Chapter six Part one which deals with, ‘Cheating and undue influence of Trade and Commerce, Unfair practice of ‘Dey’ and ‘Sang’ and of government prohibited properties.

“In Chapter six of CHHA 1-1, it states that the buying and selling business of the government prohibited properties shall not be permitted in any restricted place. In violation of the provision, the government would confiscate the properties transacted and forfeit the values involved. Moreover, the parties to the transaction including the witnesses will be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend from three months to three years,” said a legal expert.

The legal expert said since the ministers had collusively offended and defeated the King’s order, the purpose of the government and the country, the charge will fall under CHHA 1-2, which states that ‘ the business must be carried according to the normal course of trade and it should not be affected under coercion, undue influence, misrepresentation and fraud.’

If, however, the parties violate the provision, they shall be made to return the goods transacted and pay the money according to the prevailing customary practice. In addition to that, the guilty party will have to pay the fine to the government equivalent to half the value of the actual price involved in the transaction.

The Thrimzhung Chhenpo with regard to CHHA 1-2 states that such unlawful act must be brought to the notice of the court within seven days from the day on which such transaction was undertaken. If, however, such unlawful transaction was left unreported to the court having jurisdiction within the period specified therein, the court shall not entertain the complaints thereafter.

The legal experts, however, said that though the ministers would face the above charges the Speaker would be more liable.

“Under Section PA 1, the Speaker can be held liable for theft, as he had carried such activities by violating the Kasho, the government’s directives, conflict of interest, and deceptive practices to offer land for vested interests,” said a legal expert.

Under Section PA 9 the government can take back such a property.

According to the legal experts the ministers, however, could come under value based sentencing under Section PA 11 which says, “A person who bought or received any property which he knowingly knows that had been stolen and conceals the fact when inquiries into the theft are made by the Thrimkhang, will be made to restore that property to the real owner and also will be liable to punishment ranging from half the sentence liable for the thief.”

With this sentencing being a value based sentencing it means that for property worth Nu 1-Nu 500 the sentencing will be one month to a year.

For property worth Nu 500-1000 the term will be one to two years, and for property worth more than Nu 1000 the term will range from two to five years.

“The Gyelpozhing incident is a collusive act with conflict of interest, meaning that the ministers above knew the government law. Still the Speaker went ahead and offered the lands to the influential people and with the PM being his boss failed to do his duty of not allowing the Speaker on take such steps. This crime therefore would fall under the MA 1-1,” said the legal expert.

This section states, “A person who witnesses any other person committing an act violating the law, should report the matter to the nearest Thrimkhang or competent local authority.”

A legal expert said that in the Gyelpozhing case the ministers knew what was happening and still kept the land and used it.

“Now, with the ministers knowing the fact that the Speaker was committing a crime, section MA 1-3 will apply on the ministers,” said the legal expert.

This section states, “Any person who accepts a bribe from a known lawbreaker or criminal and gives him shelter and conceals information regarding his whereabouts, or otherwise extends assistance to him, shall be liable for punishment ranging from half the sentence to the full sentence liable to the lawbreaker or criminal he so assisted.”

Moving to the Land Act 1979 front, the accused will be held liable under two sections in the Land Act according to the legal experts.

One will be the KA 6-8; this section states that though as per KA 2-3 the title of land registered in one’s Thram cannot be questioned by anyone, the government can requisition any land if it was required for the benefit of the country.

The cost of such land will be paid by the government based on classification and the regulations laid down. Substitute land will be given as per KA 6-9.

The second will be KA 6-20, which states that the government land cannot be contended for use, sale or purchase either collectively or individually irrespective of the status of the person.

“If used, an amount equivalent to the cost of the land will have to be paid by the user as fine and the land will be confiscated by the government. If sold, the buyer or the seller along with the witnesses, thereof, can be imprisoned in the same context as mentioned in the Thrimzhung Chhenpo of Section 1-1.

Judicial experts say that these laws will be made applicable with factual findings.

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27 comments

  1. Thanks a lot for highlighting the legal provisions related to land grabs. Please continue with such contributions. Wish our BBS Radio & TV too come up with such valuable programmes and contribute to general public’s understanding of our existing laws.

    • Drukpaheartson

      I too support your comments. We dont want any thing more than justice from our governmetn, it is more than building roads and bridges. JUstice is like a heart to attain happiness. we expect our only slug yet a big dreamer, BBS TV channel to come up with such a cruical and national interest issues rather than always talking about what is taking place around our country. We need a investigative reports, not merely a information
      .

    • We wish now media should catch all wrong big fish and let ordinary people live peacefully. scam after scam, change after change! all illegal activities by those big fish need to be sorted out so ACC has lot of work but they must do starting from very big fish.

  2. UH OH all the big shots are in trouble… unless of course cheap shots are taken to tamper the law… trust me rather than the election preparation PM must be running up and down Thimphu and his brain trying to jump out of this rock bottom they all got into. Druk Thukseypas all running downhill..

  3. Tshering Gyelsten

    by early Monday, all may line up infront of His Majesty’s Chamber for forgiveness and kasho for not to charge for this case?

  4. antiSycophants

    I hope whoever is involved get the punishment as per the law of the land. Let us see where our Legal system in Bhutan falls.

    • antiSycopahnts,

      I am with you, the guilty needs to be punished, but I certainly don’t agree with the two posters before yours, it is hard to fathom how they can be so stupid in their thinking.

      • Arey yarrrr this MONK IS EVERYWHERE.. ga che mo jumaaa zhum bayy ga tey ta ruu chhoe meyy ba yah lama khenoo…loll

        • Why are you hell bent on making a nuisance of yourself, just read your posts and see if you make any sense.

  5. Tsk tsk some people do get carried away by whatever is reported in the media but often fail to read the stories on the other side of the coin. 

  6. antiSycophants

    what is there on other side? Another scam

  7. Wai Tashi Wangmo,
    Your duty is to report the news not to  act like court defining all the rules and laws.Do you really think there will be better person than our present PM.Actually Tenzin Lamsang is mastermind coz he has personal grudge with PM  and these paper actually is trying weaken the government plus country.If you don’t have professionalism in reporting, learn from west.I have never seen the news content written that way in west. Tenzin Lamsang instead of PM, you will be brought to justice one day. 

    • This report has Tenzing Lamsang written all over it, so they are going to be charged for stealing, really, now, lets see who is going to charge H.H the Je Khenpo and Gup Wangchen for stealing.

      • Its quite sad, the speaker can get people like H.H the Je Khenpo involved in such a scam. Am sure, H.H would not have known the implications or the legality of accepting such a land (if he was offered one). In this case, I see H.H as being manipulated, and is a victim.

        I cannot say the same for others, who actually knew what it was, whether it was legal, after all, some of them were the bosses of the speaker. Some of them were involved in making the policies, some were aware of the kasho, but did nothing to stop it. Rather, they decided to be a party to this scam. Just shameless!

      • the_monk, if the ACC is clever and qualified enough, they will know if anyone accepted those lands without knowledge of it being in violation of any law or kasho. As far as we know, the speaker and some of these people knew exactly if it was illegal or not, and they used people like H.H the Je khenpo for the only reason to save themselves if caught.

        And you are using the same tactics to scare the ACC! You guys have this planned out all along and have taken the country for a ride. I am quite sure you are involved in this in one way or another.

        The more you say things here, the more you reveal a lot about yourself. In the end its not about DPT or PDP, its about you saving your corrupted ass.

  8. Quote “if the ACC is clever and qualified enough, they will know if anyone accepted those lands without knowledge of it being in violation of any law or kasho. As far as we know, the speaker and some of these people knew exactly if it was illegal or not, and they used people like H.H the Je khenpo for the only reason to save themselves if caught.”

    Are you for real or what, your ridiculous arguments won’t work in a court of law, so better stop making a fool of yourself. You should feel embarrassed to come up with such howlers.

    • Sorry to break it to you, your uncle JYT accepted a BRIBE from the speaker to turn a blind eye to the scam. The other individuals not working in the government during that time just accepted the land unaware of the legality. There’s a difference between the two. But then you will not see it, you are here to defend your uncle, even at the cost of tarnishing the name of our religious head, H.H the JeKhenpo.

      By the way, it wont be surprising if your uncle masterminded the whole thing, making the stupid speaker the scapegoat.

      • Who is tarnishing H.H Je Khenpos name, last I heard was that this paper and you guys supporting it wanted all the people involved in the Gyelpozhing land case to be punished. I have always maintained that it was the Speaker alone who is responsible for this mess and that he should be liable for what happened, but then your story says that since PM was his boss at that time, he knew he was getting illegal land and that he too should be punished.

        So don’t make such silly statements to argue your case.

    • You don’t seem to understand the most basic of things, yet you blabber non-stop. Let me give you a simple example.

      If a friend steals an object and gives it to you and you don’t know if he stole it, the worst that could happen is, you will be made to return the stolen thing.

      But on the other hand if you very well knew your friend stole it, then its a whole different story. You are party to the crime, you are no better than the thief himself.

      The stupid friend (speaker) stole it, your uncle(the greedy fellow) accepted it. Your uncle was the speaker’s boss, the rules that were in place were both known by the two people. Your uncle JYT knew it was stolen. What’s more to say? You still want to argue? Any person with a little common sense will know who’s right.

      • Tshering P, essay writing will not be entertained in a court of law, in a court of law, you need concrete proof to convict someone. So don’t waste your time, tell your stupid stories to people who would like to listen to them.

  9. constructionist

    ooi ala the Bhutanese is right in saying and bringing some law issues. You can also learn something from it. 

  10. constructionist

    I am glad more journalist are becoming bold and true.

  11. Goodwill Embassador

    This is another heap of rubbish. If u really want to challenge PM and his government, u can organize mass demonstration with your supporters so that the government might hear your grudges. There’s no use sitting before the computer and howling at them over the internet.

  12. Goodwill Embassador

    Tashi Wangmo, there’s a grammatical mistake in one of your sentences as copied below:

    At the center of this storm is the Speaker Jigme Tshultim, Prime Minister Lyonchhen Jigmi Y Thinley, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba and finance minister Lyonpo Wangdi.

    It should be ‘are’ and not ‘is’ because there r more than one person in the list.

  13. Dukpa wang di

    Wonderful article! Nice to read through all irrelevant provision of Thrimzhung Chenmo. It is understandable for her when it comes to provision but quoted wrong law. There is no law such as Thrimzhung Chenpo. Its ‘Mo”. She will not even understand a word if she refer official version. It looks like she referred English version she was translated by one idiot.

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