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ACC implicates former land record officer for encroachment of government land

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is yet to review the investigation findings the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) forwarded for probable prosecution in connection with encroachment of government land in Hejo, Thimphu.

OAG officials confirmed they received the report about two weeks ago. The commission charged a 65-year-old man, who worked as a former thram writer in the erstwhile department of survey and land record (DSLR) from 1977 to 1991, for allegedly inflating land holdings and encroachment of government land.

ACC established that the total land holding of the accused’s parents remained the same from 1967 until 1980. However, the land holding increased by 72 decimals in seven plots as per the Chazhga thram record of 1985.

An investigation reportedly found that the accused in his capacity as the thram writer in DSLR had inserted 72 decimals of land in the land record while it was updated from 1980 to 1985.

The report stated that the increase in land holding could have happened under two conditions – either when one received Royal Kasho or through resurvey programme. The investigation through available evidences, however, ruled out both the conditions for this case.

“The investigation established that resurvey took place in Thimphu dzongkhag in 1988-89 but the land in question was already reflected with increased area in the Chagzhga thram in 1985,” the commission’s report stated.

ACC also found through available evidences that those plots sold in 1986 and field book record of 1988 reflected the increased plot size confirming that insertion happened before the survey of 1988.

The investigation determined that it was the accused who manipulated the record because firstly, a third person would neither have interest nor advantage in changing the thram record of his family. The accused was also privileged to the record, and was the ultimate beneficiary of the manipulation in the thram as he started selling and dividing plots among his family members after the insertion.

The report also stated that the accused knew the availability of state land adjacent to his plots and he randomly inserted the figures in the thram, encroaching state land.

The investigation found that of the seven plots where manipulation happened, five were sold to other individuals between 1986 and 1994. These plots were further sold to third parties and eventually acquired by the government to establish diplomatic enclave, Hejo green area and the Supreme Court. Two plots were transferred to the accused’s wife and his daughter’s name.

 

Manipulation of Kasho

The commission’s investigation also uncovered another fraudulent practice involving the accused in violation of the Royal Kasho. The former land record officer received 2.14 acres of land in Thimphu and 1.45 acres in Punakha in 1985 as kidu. However, violating the Royal edict, the accused regularised 4.15 acres of land from Thimphu and reduced the land in Punakha to 0.95 acres.

The accused allegedly registered remaining 0.50 acres of land from Thimphu and later manipulated it to 1.50 acres by over-writing the Kappa form. The high level committee formed in 2003 investigated the case and National Land Commission is in the process of restituting the land.

“In the light of these persuasive evidences, it is the opinion of the commission that consideration may be given by the OAG for making prima facie case against the accused after extensive perusal of the merit of facts and evidences,” ACC stated in the report.  “However, should the circumstantial evidences not merit for criminal prosecution of the case, the OAG may pursue the case for civil restitution of the encroached state land.”

Rinzin Wangchuk

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