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DNT accepts High Court ruling, urges Opposition to pursue

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) has decided not to appeal on the dismissal of the constitutional case it filed against the government, the party president Dr Tandi Dorji said yesterday.

“I’ll write to the Opposition Leader urging the party to take this case forward and bring it to its logical conclusion,” he said at the press conference the party held at its head office in Thimphu yesterday.

While respecting the Court’s decision, the DNT president said, the Court’s ruling that DNT has no locus standi  or legal standing as it is not directly harmed, affected or suffered an actual injury is unfortunate.

“The loss of revenue for the nation is a loss to all Bhutanese and has affected all of us,” he said.

“I don’t want to charge the court but we have been disheartened by this decision on locus standi.”

“Nevertheless we acknowledge the absence in our legal system of filing public litigation cases and despite our best efforts to convince on our legal standing, we respect the ruling by the court of placing the responsibility of filing a constitutional writ on the Opposition.”

A press release issued by DNT stated that the Opposition has stated that the provision of fiscal incentives in 2016 is a violation of the Constitution and it is, therefore, the responsibility of the Opposition now to decide whether to file a case to clarify the constitutionality of providing fiscal incentives.

The dismissal of the case is based entirely on the legal standing of DNT and whether, as a party outside the Parliament, can file for a constitutional writ.

“The court, in its wisdom and for the future of democracy has ruled that only the Opposition party has the responsibility,” Dr Tandi Dorji said.

“Even if go to the Supreme Court, the decision could be the same,” he said. “It’ll be difficult to prove that we have suffered harm as a political party and moreover, the judgment has stated that only the Opposition party can take the government to court.”

He said if in future one party wins in all 47 constituencies, then there would not be an Opposition Party. “Then what happens,” he said.

Dr Tandi Dorji said that the other parties that do not qualify the primary round would have nothing to show to the voters in the next election.

DNT party manager Phurba said that the election rules require the party to maintain an office and have office bearers. “But what will be our function?” he asked.

Dr Tandi Dorji said that while the Court has not passed the judgment on the Constitutional violation per se, the party is thankful for ruling that “any past fiscal incentives or schemes should be subject to review, if necessary, by the succeeding government and subsequently ratified by the Parliament through amendment or by way of introducing a new Money Bill on those past fiscal incentives.”

“The government’s failure to follow this in passing its fiscal incentives policy is clearly not in accordance with the law,” he said.

The dismissal by the Court of the government’s argument of the matter being sub judice has clarified that the government has no authority whatsoever to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court and that only His Majesty The King can command for such as abstract judicial review.

Having thus ruled, it is apparent that the government has no legal justification for violating the Constitution.

Dr Tandi Dorji also said that the dismissal of the case would not have an impact on their chances in the upcoming elections.

He said that there was no win or loss as the court decided not to issue the writ that it had sought.

Tshering Palden

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