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Deviation from criteria was proof enough

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Gyalpoizhing Land Case: To prove beyond reasonable doubt their charges, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)officials yesterday said the home minister had knowingly drafted the minutes of the Mongar municipal committee in his own handwriting.

He had, they said, also written with his own handwriting that religious institutions were not getting direct support from the government and thus he allotted plots to them.

That, ACC officials said, was when the home minister, as the dzongda then went beyond his chairmanship authority.

ACC was presenting their rebuttal statement against the home minister yesterday at the Mongar district court.

“The defendant had knowingly allotted plots to those who did not fulfill the government-set criteria,” ACC officials said, adding that was proof enough.

They said during the Mongar municipal meeting, some land allotment committee members raised concerns about allotting plots to the dratshangs and religious institutions.

“But as a chairman of the land allotment committee, he knowingly allotted the plots to those who were ineligible,” ACC officials said. “Because of that he was booked under section 294 of Bhutan Penal Code.”

ACC officials also said the defendant in his earlier submission informed of some of the committee members raising concerns over whether they had the right to allot plots or not.

“Despite such uncertainties and concerns, the defendant knowingly allotted plots to individuals,” they said, adding as the chairman he misused the power and allotted plots to those many who failed the government criteria.

If allotments were done in accordance with the government-set criteria, ACC officials in response to the defendant’s earlier submission said the matter would not have reached where it had today.

They said the only criteria that existed then were the circular of zonel administrator 1991 and subsequent circular of 1991 from Dasho Dorji Tenzin with the Ministry of Social Service, which the defendant failed to follow.

“Besides there were no advertisements or public announcement regarding plot allotment taking place in Gyalpoizhing,” they said.

For all these reasons, the defendant was charged for official misconduct. Besides, they said he had also abused his power to allot the land against laws and rules that existed then.

If it was done according to kajas, kashos and circulars as the defendants claim, ACC officials said there should never have arisen a problem of the sort in the first place.

There were 127 applicants who did not get plots in Gyalpoizhing, 25 of whom were those that lost plots to the project.

“They did not get a plot even today and those application were put in 1989 until 2006,” ACC officials said.

The zonel administrator’s letter stated that no command was given to allot the plots, while the circular of Ministry of Social Service states that preference should be given only to those operating legal shops and local residents.

“This is proof enough that the defendant misused the authority or functioned beyond his jurisdiction,” ACC officials said.

By Dechen Tshering, Mongar

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