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Committee found guilty

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gyalpoizhingHanded down: Drangpon Gembo Dorji walks out of the courtroom after passing the verdict yesterday in Mongar. The Speaker’s representative follows.

The members given compoundable sentences ranging  from a year to 30 months

Gyalpoizhing Land Case: Mongar district court yesterday sentenced three defendants to a year, and two-and-half-years in prison, in connection with the Gyalpoizhing land allotment case, the hearings for which began in December last year.

The defendants have the option of paying thrimthue, or money, in lieu of a prison term, within 10 days from the day of passing the judgment.

 

Speaker

National Assembly speaker Jigme Tshultim, whose judgement was read out first, at around 9:45am, was given a two-and-a-half year sentence.  The sentence was based on 23 charges.

Should the speaker choose to pay in lieu of prison term, he is liable for Nu 90,000.

The 511-page verdict said he was guilty of illegally allotting plots to 23 individuals, including his maid, during his tenure as Mongar dzongda and chairman of the plot allotment committee between 1999 and 2002.

The speaker issued land ownership certificates to 22 people, including Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley and works and human settle minister Yeshey Zimba, who were allotted plots of different sizes.

“The speaker failed to abide by His Majesty’s kasho (written order) issued on March 31, 1987, and the allotment criteria and guidelines that works and human settlement ministry set,” the judgement stated. “The intent of the kaja of 1987 and government directives were clear, as were rules and procedures, specifically designed to prevent such allotment of urban land.”

The verdict said the court established that he had allotted land to those, who did not fulfill the government-approved criteria to give land to people, who owned and operated legal shops in the given township; second to the local resident before giving it to the rest.

The defendant allotted 19 plots from commercial area during the first phase in 1999, and another 26 out of 43 applicants for commercial plots and 41 from 89 applicants were allotted in the residential area.

The standard size of the plot in the commercial area was 7.26 decimals, but some were allotted 14.57 decimals, while in the residential area, it ranged between 10.67 and 50 decimals.

In 2001, the plot allotment committee, under the defendant’s chairmanship, had imposed an additional criterion that required eligible applicants to attend in person the lucky draw for plot allotments.

The court ruling stated that 124 applicants, who were absent during the draw, since they were unaware of the dates, were still allotted plots, based on the defendant’s claim that it was the committee’s decision.

The committee conducted a lucky draw for residential plots from a list of 90 applicants, of which 67 were remarked as “not reported”, four as “blank”, another four as “reserved”, and 15 were allotted plot numbers.

Similarly, the plot allotment committee conducted a lucky draw to allot commercial plots from a list of 43 applicants, of which, 19 had failed to report, while four were allotted a plot each.

Beside the sentence, the court also ordered the speaker to restitute 8,201.76sqft of plot to government that was illegally allotted to his maid, Nima Zangmo, in 2000.

The defendant prepared and forged Nima Zangmo’s signature, who had never applied for a plot.

During the court proceedings, the speaker said he paid for the plot and paid taxes so far.

The court verdict said, although Nima Zangmo was absent during the draw, the speaker, in her land certificate ownership, had stated the plot was allotted through lucky draw in presence of plot allotment committee members.

 

Home Minister  Minjur Dorji

As the Mongar dzongda between 2005 and 2006, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji had allotted plots to Kharchu dratshang in Bumthang, Dremetse dratshang in Mongar and a woman, Kunzang Dema.

He was sentenced to a year in prison for official misconduct.  He had also allotted a plot each to two members of the royal family.  Allotment to royal family members was not discussed in the Mongar court, on the grounds that it would be taken up by another authority.

The Mongar municipal committee chairman, according to the court ruling, failed to exercise due diligence while allotting plots.

“He not only failed to abide by His Majesty’s kasho that set criteria, and announcement made by works and human settlement ministry to defer allotment and registration of commercial land until further notice, instead he allotted plots to the two dratshangs and an individual, without considering 124 eligible, who had already applied for plots.”

The court also ordered him to return the plots allotted to Dremetse and Kharchu dratshangs to the government.

 

Dechen Singye

Former municipal building inspector and member secretary of Gyalpoizhing  land allotment committee during speaker Jigme Tshultim’s time, Dechen Singye, was given a one year sentence for deception. He violated Na 1-2 of Thrimzhung Chhenmo.

He was found guilty of allotting a plot to his sister Dechen Zangmo, who was not eligible.

The defendant, the judgement said, had written application for a plot, and had given his thumb impressions on his sister’s behalf, which was a case of “conflict of interest”.

Anti-Corruption Commission officials established that Dechen Singye had paid for the plot and sold it soon after he bought it.

He was Mongar municipal committee’s building inspector in 2002, and a member secretary of the land allotment committee.

In that capacity, he compiled a list of individuals possessing license and running shops in Gyalpoizhing, Kurizampa and Lingmithang, to prepare a list eligible for plot allotment.

He had signed allotment of 19 commercial plots in the first phase, 26 in the second and 41 in the third phase in 2001.

Following the judgement, Dechen Singye asked the drangpon of the possibility of reducing his prison-term or amount in lieu, because he had been suspended without salary for five months.

In response, drangpon Gembo Dorji said he could have considered lowering Dechen Singye’s sentence, had he served a prison term or been in detention, which bereft an individual of his liberty and freedom.

“I’m helpless,” he said. “I can’t put in my mouth, what I can’t swallow.”

By Kuensel Reporters | Mongar

17 Comments to “Committee found guilty”
  1. Parangkush Subedi | March 12th, 2013 at 04:29:39

    Democracy in practice! Good job!!!

  2. Truly Concerned_Bhutan | March 11th, 2013 at 10:40:46

    The Verdict is a sheer joke. These people are real criminals if we can take it seriously. They deserved more than this.

  3. ratnalingpa | March 11th, 2013 at 10:25:34

    Verdict of paying Thrimthue is not too difficult-the amounts are meager. They can easily pay off the amount except for their tarnished image of being ministers and being sentenced for the first ever so elected speaker and home minister in the history of Bhutanese democracy.

    Is it what our law says so? If not mistaken, I’ve seen common people who have nothing but for the sake of keep going with their livelihood are passed with harsher punishment for lesser crime then what they have done. Hence, it looks too less a verdict for these high profile individuals against their crime. Can you imagine that they dared to deviate HM’s order-forget about so many other petty things.

    Anyways well beginning is half done, but they are many more to be revealed out by Anti Corruption especially in land KINDU- in fact whosoever is dealing with land.

  4. kunzangd | March 10th, 2013 at 21:57:41

    Thank God ACC could at least come up with this result, congrates ACC team, to be frank we were not even sure that acc would win the case.

    yes ofcourse the verdict seems biased for the defendants should have at least imprisoned for a year without bail.

    I think ACC should be happy and should not have the intention to appeal further to the supreme court.

    Keep it up and Keep Bhutan Free from such corruptions always.
    THUMPS UP.

  5. Ram Karki | March 10th, 2013 at 15:49:36

    Finally something remarkable verdict have been passed by Bhutan’s district court and for this i appreciated Drangpon Gembo Dorji’s bravery. “Land of Gross National Happiness where even the street dogs smiles”, is in fact proved to be a hollow slogan of JYT at numerous International Forums. Poor people were cheated and strictly ordered to be happy when the foreigners are around them but their inner miseries and hardship were never understood by the so called proponent of happiness. How come such filthy minded people were appointed as dzongdas and subsequently as Speaker of Nation’s parliament and Home Minister? I feel this incident is only the tip of the iceberg and hope ACC will continue digging till it reaches at the bottom of this notorious land scandal. It is quite surprising that such violators of Royal Decree (tsa-wa-sum) instead of getting capital punishment (as per the law of tsa-wa-sum) just could manage to escape with a mere Nu 90,000.

  6. hariadhikari | March 10th, 2013 at 06:35:55

    imprisonment to speaker sthumtrim and Home minister Minjure dorjee is a sad news because these two and their associates have not done such corruption without the encouragements and influence of their role models found everywhere as omnipotent of nation . Therefore , until the big fish are free then to punish such small elements is only a mockery of law and system . Is not this another gimmick to show inter national communities .
    Hari adhikari

  7. concern | March 10th, 2013 at 01:00:35

    for the two convicts there is royal prerogative to grant pardon like the Army Welfare case and this also merits the same lol.
    But for Dechen Singye his punishment was not proportionate to the offence. He can plead for doctrine of proportionality meaning matching of the sentence with the offence, balancing.
    All in all it is not a case of True Justice for true award..but this happens in Bhutan all the time.

  8. demogal | March 9th, 2013 at 22:58:45

    So DPT, was there equity n justice?
    Does it mean that Richer people has to become richer and poor have to become poorer?
    Does our country have two rules; one for big boss’ and one for common people? Because Dechen Singye was suspended while Speaker and Home minister weren’t though the latter two did a bigger crime.
    So people can become, then indulge in corruption and then say that they should be excused as they are holding important post??
    Can these accused participate in upcoming election?

    The citizens are seeking answers for these and many more questions…

  9. SIGNO | March 9th, 2013 at 22:47:38

    @ semso, it is simple….Mr. Dechen Singye is neither a DTP candidate nor he is in the Heavy weight division, so could not rebound thus he suffered the unjust fate.

  10. geneticist | March 9th, 2013 at 21:20:47

    In Bhutan people of higher authority can use large government and later make the compensation payment when they had already earned form the land..what a god idea.

  11. semso | March 9th, 2013 at 19:07:50

    I don’t understand why only Mr. Dechen Singye was suspended so long without monthly payment? And why not all those involved???????

  12. semso | March 9th, 2013 at 18:58:03

    It seems Mongar court had passed the verdict for the sake of passing. what is the use of a bailable verdict/sentence? even a laborer working on road sides can also afford to pay the Thrimthue.

  13. rpsubba | March 9th, 2013 at 18:32:44

    Congratulations Drangpon Gembo Dorji.

    You have set a precedence which could be too big for Bhutan to digest without going into a state of deep shock. The convicted duo are no ordinary men. And yet, you did not stray from steering Bhutan a step closer to the rue of law.

    The Gyalpoizhing land allotment case indeed exposes the level of corruption that is eating up Bhutanese society. Corruption, it seems has deeply penetrated the higher people who sit in the government. They use power, influence and money to drive decisions to full fill their land grabbing greed. What came out in your judgment is not the end of all. In fact, this case could just be the seed that could expose bigger scandals involving several government ministers and senior government officials.

    Kudos too to ACC. Please continue your work. Mongar District Court and your office make Bhutan proud today. It is one of the rare cases in Bhutan where any court has upheld a judgement against a minister of establishment.

    One for sure laments that the verdict has been too linient considering the level of corruption. A ‘cash substitute’ instead of a mandatory imprisonment would minimize the purpose of the verdict; and it will encourage repetitive scandals in the future. This case also highly contradicts the ‘tobacco case’ of Sonam Tshering, who was given a much harsher sentence by the Thimphu Court.

    For DYT, it is unfortunate that such a verdict should come during an election year. The slogans your men carry are nothing but hollow. With an image tainted with corruption and scandals, these two men should never be able to contest any elections ever. Bhutan’s Democracy is simply too young to be taken for a ride by a handful of corrupted people.

  14. semso | March 9th, 2013 at 18:23:08

    Verdict passed after a long wait and various speculation.

    Even the individuals who got land/plots registered in their names including PM himself should also be held liable and barred from participating in election. being the holders of ministerial posts, they knew very well that getting plots registered in their names were against our country’s laws but they did it intentionally.

    Anyways, Cheers to ACC.

  15. nepti p | March 9th, 2013 at 15:51:43

    There is no smoke without a fire.

  16. sangaydorji | March 9th, 2013 at 15:01:11

    Hehhehehe……….Joke ….nice Joke ..hehee

  17. Ap Gasep | March 9th, 2013 at 13:35:32

    The punishment very lenient and compensations not enough. These culprits would have been hanged had they did this corruption in China and other nations. Lucky that they are in Bhutan.

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