The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) will take a decision this month on the reassignment of the former Ministry of Economic Affairs Secretary Dasho Sonam Tshering and the former Foreign Secretary Yeshey Dorji.
According to a reliable source the RCSC will not be reassigning the two secretaries to the post of a government secretary which is a secretary to a government ministry enjoying slightly higher pay and privileges than other secretaries.
The source said that even in the case of normally appointing new secretaries to the government the RCSC has to anyhow send a list to the Cabinet which does the selection and then submits names to His Majesty the King.
Therefore, in addition to the RCSC’s earlier decision of reassignment the Cabinet already has the prerogative to reject candidates for the post of government secretary.
However, the two secretaries will still retain their Ex-1 status in the civil service and can look forward to a probable appointment as secretaries in a host of other potential bodies.
Ex-1 posts outside the 10 government ministries are there as the General Secretaries of the National Assembly and National Council, Secretary of Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC), Secretary of National Environment Commission (NEC), Secretary of Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC), Secretary of Dratshang Lhentshog, Secretary of National Land Commission (NLC), President of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) and Dzongdas.
Of the above the source ruled out National Assembly, GNHC, NLC and JDWNRH as quite recent and new appointments had been made there. Dzongda appointments were also ruled out as the cabinet like in the case of government secretaries would have to choose from a list sent by the RCSC.
So of the potential ones DDC currently has a vacancy. In other potential cases the secretaries have completed either the minimum four year terms before transfer or have been there for more than five years. This means that these posts could also be open to transfers by RCSC and while doing so the two secretaries could be accommodated there. The posts are secretary general of NC and the Secretary of the Dratshang Lhentshog both of whom have been there for around 7 years. The secretary of the NEC has been there for under five years in his post.
According to the RCSC Act all EX-1 positions are considered to be vulnerable which means that a transfer should normally be done every five years. Transfers can also be done on completing the minimum four years.
Also, in the case of secretaries outside the government ministries, the RCSC can transfer and place them without having to go through the cabinet. The RCSC can select a final list and then forward it to His Majesty the King for official appointments as per the Constitution.
Dasho Sonam Tshering like most other government secretaries was due to finish his final 5 year term as a secretary by June end 2016. However, given that he is no longer a government secretary he would have around four years left in the service as a secretary before retirement.
Before his reassignment over the unauthorized compliant letter to the Indian government Dasho Sonam Tshering was regarded as a senior and competent secretary heading many groups and committees including the first pay commission under the former government.
Yeshey Dorji was appointed as Foreign Secretary in June 2012 which meant he had time till June 2017 as a Foreign Secretary. Now he has around three years left in the service before retirement. The former Foreign Secretary before his reassignment was regarded as a competent career diplomat and Foreign Secretary.
The former Cabinet Secretary has already superannuated reaching 60 years and so his appointment is not an issue.
The government on 11th December 2014 announced its decision to ‘surrender’ the three secretaries to the RCSC.
The main offence of the three Secretaries, according to the government, was to take part in sending a strong 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 Prime Minister or even the Foreign Minister.
The letter was to primarily complain about an article where a former civil servant K.B Wakhley had made various charges against Dasho Sonam Tshering over his compulsory retirement. However, the letter also touched on a story by Enertia which talked about corruption allegations with regard to supply of equipment of electro-mechanical equipment by BHEL.
The letter said that the articles ‘undermine the spirit of friendship, mutual trust and understanding and close cooperation that has guided Bhutan’s economic partnership with India in the hydropower sector.’
The letter apart from the complaint asked for action against Enertia Magazine and Foundation to the fullest extent of the law.
In addition to surrendering the three secretaries the government ordered an ACC investigation into the corruption allegations and dissolved the Committee of Secretaries.
The RCSC in late December 2014 announced that it could not accept the surrender of the three secretaries and put them on authorized absence instead. The RCSC asked the cabinet to provide the charges and evidence against the three secretaries.
In the meantime the Opposition party strongly took up the case of the three secretaries asking for their reinstatement to their original positions.
The cabinet provided the charges and the evidences along with it. The RCSC in late February 2015 announced that it would reassign the three secretaries.