The High Court (HC) yesterday upheld Thimphu dzongkhag court’s judgment that allows Thimphu thromde to acquire land in Hejo to develop diplomatic enclave.
According to the HC order, the judgment passed by the lower court on December 28 last year, which claimed the development of diplomatic enclave is in the national interest, stands correct.
HC also ruled that Thimphu thromde has not breached any law including the Constitution while acquiring land for the development of diplomatic enclave in Hejo.
The four appellants (landowners) had moved court after they refused to surrender their land to thromde.
In their appeal to HC, the landowners submitted that the lower court did not verify the documents the thromde presented to the court and that the Thimphu Structural Plan 2002-2007, the basis of the thromde’s claims had not been signed by landowners.
They also submitted that the government had no authority over private property. In supporting their claims, they quoted section 9 of the Constitution, which states that a Bhutanese shall have the right to own property. “The lower court’s decision allowing the acquisition of private land is against the law,” the submission stated.
The appellants had quoted section 93 of the Land Act which states that “… a person owning an independent thram shall have the executive right to transact his land, including surrendering to the government.”
Another ground of appeal was made on compensation rate and on opportunity loss the landowner had to undergo while developmental activities in the land were frozen.
The four landowners demanded that should they agree to surrender their land, they have to be compensated based on the existing market rate and not on the government rate based on the 2017 Property Assessment Valuation Agency (PAVA).
According to the HC order, as stated in the lower court’s judgment, the compensation rate was fixed after discussing with the parties involved.
Of the total 58 landowners involved, 54 were paid compensation based on the 2017 PAVA rate.
According to HC’s judgment, the grounds of appeal submitted by the four landowners had no basis. The court, therefore, upheld the lower court’s judgment and dismissed the appeal.
The litigants have 10 working days to appeal further.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic enclave is a part of the Thimphu Structural Plan 2002 -2027, where space for 16 embassies and missions were planned after acquiring 31.7 acres of land opposite to the Indian Embassy.
The government in 2002 identified the area in Hejo. The plan was proposed in the Thimphu Structural Plan and approved by the Cabinet in 2003. Out of the 31 acres, 8.5 acres belonged to various monastic institutions.
The government has granted user rights over 1.5 acres to Bangladesh for construction of the Bangladesh Embassy at Hejo in 2017.