The OAG Island

In 2010 the OAG engaged in a furious battle with the Anti Corruption Commission to not prosecute those accused in the Gyelpozhing Land allotment case. It later lost the case and a lot of its credibility with it.

This was soon followed by the Trongsa land case where the OAG overturned the entire ACC investigation and refused to prosecute the case saying there is no case. It also challenged the locus standi of the ACC to prosecute the case.

Again, embarrassingly for the OAG, the judiciary ruled in favour of ACC and allowed it to prosecute the case.

While this embarrassment was not over another major one followed when the OAG made up an internal rule that it would not appeal cases when two courts gave the same verdict. It loosely and controversially interpreted this rule to not appeal the Jatan Lal case in the Supreme Court.

Again in what was a well established pattern the Supreme Court itself allowed the ACC to file an appeal overriding the non-appeal by the OAG in the case.

In all of the above cases the government of the day to which the OAG is accountable should have pulled up the OAG along with the AG in charge.

However, it seems all three elected governments so far have been content to let its legal arm embarrass itself and the government again and again with no consequences and no changes.

To be clear, the AG, who is the head of the OAG, is appointed on the nomination of the Prime Minister and can also be removed on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister does not have the power to fire even a government messenger, but the fact that he is given such powers over the AG clearly means the AG is accountable to him and the larger government in how it functions.

The OAG and the AGs, however, have been an island to themselves in how they function with excessive and mostly made up discretionary powers.

The result of such a history is why the current OAG is in the process of suing a private citizen with defamation charges when there no complaint from the government, which it represents. This is unacceptable and improper.

The case if successful could have a negative and chilling impact on the freedom of expression and would grossly inflate the OAG’s already inflated discretionary powers to the detriment of the basic checks and balances of a democratic system.

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
Thomas Paine

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