Land Allotment Case: There existed no proof of the National Assembly speaker in his capacity as Mongar dzongda in 2001 that the Gyalpoizhing plot allotment was done openly through public notification.
This was one of the main arguments Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) representatives, in their second rebuttal statement against the speaker at the Mongar district court, presented.
The defendant also deceived the government, the statement read, by stating that the committee allotted the plots, when he did it.
ACC’s statement also said the defendant had encouraged people he knew to apply for plots, and most of those who received plots in Gyalpoizhing were rich and powerful people.
“The defendant, as the implementer of the policy of government, has abused his position,” the statement said. “He instead went on to favour powerful individuals, rather than alleviate the plight of common people.”
The statement stated that local residents, and those who lost their land to the project, were not considered, despite their applications.
It also said the zonal administrator was very clear in issuing the order that stressed the plots be given to alleviate the plights of those business people, who were unable to acquire plots, and were, therefore, conducting their business from huts.
From a total of 14 acres allotted during the defendant’s tenure between 2001 and 2002, 12.74 acres, ACC’s rebuttal statement said, were allotted to individuals, who did not qualify, going by the government approved criteria.
In 2001, out of 26 commercial plots, it stated 23 were allotted to individuals, who did not fulfill the criteria; it was the same about residential plots, where out of 41 residential plots, 32 were allotted to individuals, who did not fulfill government criteria.
In 2002, seven more plots were allotted to individuals, who did not fulfill the criteria.
The statement said the defendant abused his authority to allot the many plots deceptively, and saying they were done by the plot allotment committee through a lucky draw.
“In reality, these plots were allotted by the defendant himself, and these individual did not participate in the lucky draw,” the statement read. “It is thus a deceptive practice described under Na 1-2 of the Thrimzhung Chhenmo.”
The defendant was instructed not to register the plots and collect money, until government approval was conveyed to him.
“The many letters and correspondences, seeking clarification and providing instructions, were, in the opinion of the state, administrative redressals,” ACC’s statement said. “The defendant, however, provided vague, evasive and false clarification.”
ACC officials also said the dzongda, who preceded the speaker, Karma Dorji, in his statement to the commission, said the command to allot plots at Mongar town was given to him by the fourth King. However, when it came to allotment of plots at Gyalpoizhing, he had said, the fourth Druk Gyalpo did not give any specific command.
Therefore, ACC’s statement said the submission of the defendant that he was bestowed the authority to allocate plots was null and void.
The criteria to allot plots, it said, were clear, which the defendant deviated from to favour individuals, based on his personal preference.
Speaker Jigme Tshultim reiterated his earlier stance again that the case having been taken over by ACC, and the district court admitting it violated the Constitution.
“We all have to work within the purview of law,” he said, adding ACC was a constitutional body and had its own Act to function within which and not beyond. He said the ACC Act came into effect in July 5, 2011.
Office of the Attorney General (OAG), as a constitutional body, he said, had its own mandate, and it has found no basis to prosecute the case.
“I know law as a speaker, and I went through all the process of law to get elected,” he said. “It’s treason to break the provisions of the Constitution, and ACC has done that.”
There are 20 dzongdas and drangpons in the country’s 20 districts, to represent the King and execute his command.
During the plot allotment, he said, gups, mangmis and tshogpas were also there, except for a few villagers and they did not get land.
There were only around 19 shops and allotted plots as per the rules, set criteria and kings kaja.
“I used my authority to help my people because of which they are happy with me,” he said. “I reached my present position, because of my contribution then.”
At the court, the speaker, who said the media failed to reflect his points of views, asked the drangpon of the possibility of having the broadcast media in the court room.
The drangpon said that recording devices of any kind was disallowed in the courtroom and that he could seek the chief justice’s approval if the speaker really wished, to which the speaker said if that was the case, they should stick to the rules.
By Dechen Tshering, Mongar