Three lessons this week

There are three important lessons to learn from two news stories this week.

The first two lessons are from the case of DB Chhetri. This case has attracted much discussion on social media and people have jumped to their own conclusions.

The social media has effectively become a court of public opinion on the case, even challenging the Supreme Court verdict.

Real case information has been mixed with rumors and defamation online. While people are free to draw their own conclusions, people must do it only after getting complete information.

The second lesson of this case is that it has shown the obvious disadvantages in accepting only Dzongkha as the court language.

A lot of the facts of the case are in the court judgment, but since it is in Dzongkha many people are unable to read or understand it.

The Judiciary, until a few years ago, accepted petitions and arguments in English and even gave verdicts in English, which made it widely accessible to the public.

The Tax case and the Dasho Benji vs DPT cases come to mind.

However, there was an order from the Supreme Court to only have Dzongkha as the court language. The result of that order can be seen today where people rather accept anonymous facebook posts they can read than court judgments they cannot.

The third lesson is from the compulsory retirement of two foresters who spoke to the media about being treated unfairly over some redeployment.

While agencies have the full right to transfer and remove people within their rules, this case has turned ugly due to the emphasis on not talking to the media.

There are important and much needed reforms being carried out in the civil service, but some people should not misinterpret that to assume that the civil service should be inaccessible to the media.

Intransparency is like poison for governance and one of the key requirements of good governance is good communication. So the harsh punishment meted out to the foresters will firstly discourage whistleblowers and secondly foster a culture of secrecy which is the breeding ground for corruption and abuse of power.

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
William Butler Yeats

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