Home Minister, Sherub Gyeltshen has appealed to the High Court, within 24 hours against the judgment rendered by the Thimphu dzongkhag court’s criminal bench I on August 27.
The minister was sentenced to two months in prison for claiming false vehicle insurance worth Nu 226,546.
The minister’s attorney, Yeshey Wangdi, said that his client chose to appeal because the case involved ‘question of law and question of facts’. The appeal was submitted to the High Court yesterday.
According to the appeal letter, when Lyonpo claimed the insurance from Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd (RICBL), he already had valid comprehensive insurance scheme on his vehicle.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) had earlier submitted that the vehicle bearing number BP-1-B0077, which was registered as a third party insurance scheme until July 5, 2016, was upgraded to comprehensive insurance scheme on June 4 valid for a year.
OAG had alleged that the vehicle had two insurance covers between July 6, 2016 and June 3, 2017 in violation of the rules of the company.
However, the attorney said the minister’s innocence could be proved. “There are critical evidences submitted to the court proving the innocence of my client which are left unattended by the Trial Court,” the appeal letter stated.
Yeshey Wangdi said that the conviction was based on the vague statement submitted during the investigation period to which the prosecutor failed to prove the statement with the corroborating evidences vitiating the admission made by his client.
“We have had expert witness summoned to the court upon request by the prosecutor, but the statement of expert witness substantiating the genuineness and legitimacy of such claims were not taken into account,” he said.
He added that the case warranted the expert opinion and justice would only prevail on the opinion of the expert. “However, such evidences, so cardinal, were not reflected to reason the judgment.”
The court ordering his client to refund the claim was not in line with the risk and guarantee of the insurance policy, Yeshey Wangdi said. “This claim is duly availed from the company against the premium paid by the customer covering the risk involved therein and this shall not, at all, be deemed to be the money of the company or public.”
He said that it was unfortunate for Lyonpo who was a respectable figure to have to faces this situation, more so at a time when he was serving the last mile of his career.
“Lyonpo Sherub has served the Tsa-Wa-Sum in various positions with utmost commitment and dedication for more than 37 years,” he said. “After having retired from the civil service, Lyonpo could have conveniently lived a peaceful retired life. But in his response to the call of the nation, and upon repeated persuasion from the party, he joined the political fray.”
Yeshey Wangdi said that the issue from three years ago was brought to the limelight last year as the nation was gearing towards the third parliamentary elections. “The case may not have surfaced, let alone receive any attention, under normal circumstances.”
Meanwhile, the minister the former executive director of RICBL and three other officials in the company and the proprietor of an automobile workshop were convicted in relation to false insurance claim amounting to Nu 226,546.