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Home minister’s jabmi submits fourth rebuttal

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Land Allotment Case The home minister’s legal representative submitted yesterday to the Mongar district court the fourth rebuttal against ACC’s charges on the Gyalpoizhing land allotment case.

According to section 294(a) of the penal code of Bhutan, the ACC is required to prove that the defendant knowingly exercised authority that was unauthorised by law, the legal representative, Jamyang Sherab Wangdi, submitted.

He said ACC accepted in their oral submission to the court on January 16 that the Mongar municipal committee had the authority to allot plots in Gyalpoizhing township, based on the kaja of 1987, which categorically states that all dzongkhag municipal committees can allot urban land, once Gyalpoizhing promulgates a by-law for the allotment of urban land.

The zonal administrator’s letter of June 6, 1991, stated that, upon the rules being framed, the power to allot plots would vest with the local township development committees.

The circular of July 24, 1991, was issued on the directives of the royal government, as stated in the circular.  It laid down the guidelines for township development and allotment of plots, hence empowering the municipal committees to allot land.

The legal representative said both Kharchu dratshang and Dremetse dratshang are religious institutions, recognised by the government, and not barred by any law to receive plot allotment in urban areas.

Hence, the concern raised by the committee members on whether they have the authority to allot plots to religious institutions is not only an erroneous understanding of the prevailing laws, but also irrelevant in this case.

The handwritten notes are irrelevant, because the minutes, which are official records, are final and binding.  Further, as per the evidence act, minutes are admissible evidence, while the handwritten notes cannot override any official record.

The legal counsel submitted that the plots in Gyalpoizhing were allotted in three phases, prior to the defendant taking over as the chairman of the committee.  Hence, it is safe to presume that preference would be taken into consideration, as it concerns allotment of plots in the same area.

Also the requirement for advertisement and announcement, as raised by the ACC, are criteria formulated by ACC in the course of the hearing, and it did not exist at the time plots were allotted.

Further, the ACC argument that the defendant, by deviating from the criteria, committed official misconduct is erroneous understanding of the law, as section 294 (a) of the penal code requires proof that the defendant had knowledge that the act was not an authority conferred on the committee, which is again contrary to their oral submission that the committee had the authority.

The legal counsel submitted that administrative procedure and authority are two different elements.  Section 294(a) of the penal code is specific to authority, and raising issues of administrative procedural lapse under section 294(a) is legally unsound.

The kaja of 1987 is a conditional kaja and, upon the fulfillment of the condition in the kaja, the municipal committee was automatically permitted to allot plots in the urban area.

With regard to the action of the defendant depriving residents of Drepong ownership of land in Gyalpoizhing, the defendant submitted that the government acquired the land many years ago by paying compensation.  Hence, in 2005 and 2006, those past owners would not qualify as residents of Gyalpoizhing township under the Municipal Act.

The legal counsel submitted that laws are also based on ‘progressive realisation’.  For instance, the Constitution mandates appointment of nine justices in the High Court.  Currently, four judges man it, yet it functions as the High Court under the Constitution.

The eighth five-year plan document established the dzongkhag municipalities in all dzongkhags, under section 63 of the municipal act 1999, and the Gyalpoizhing municipal plan was prepared and approved by the government, the legal council submitted.  Hence, the Mongar municipal committee is deemed established under the municipal act, the legal counsel said.

Dechen Tshering, Mongar

6 Comments to “Home minister’s jabmi submits fourth rebuttal”
  1. Ap Gasep | February 1st, 2013 at 21:02:45

    @pp66…I appreciate your verdict. You really know how Bhutan works.
    I hope this time they will do a better job than before
    Go forward ACC
    You have the people of Bhutan behind you to convict the corrupted ones

  2. pp66 | February 1st, 2013 at 15:52:01

    I can foretell the verdict for the Gyalposhing Land Allotment case. It will be as follows: “Considering the number of years they served the nation and as GNH country, the defendants strictly warn not to repeat the same in future.” Appreciation may be given to the ACC for trying it’s hand on the big fish without fear. Sometime last year, a former Samtse Dzongda was also charged by the ACC for keeping an ESP staff do his private job. He was forced to resign with benefits and the joke is that the Dzongda has only 6 months to resign. So this is the way, high ranking officials are penalized in our country for their actions. However, if common people are proven guilty at the court, they receive 3 years imprisonment even for possessing few packets of tobacco.

  3. depbaap | February 1st, 2013 at 10:17:27

    It is for all Bhutanese to see and understand that Gelposhing plot allotment is the blatant misuse of power and authority. It may be difficult to prove such corruption in the court when accused are rich and powerful who could manipulate facts and distort evidences; but the reality on the ground shows, without any doubts, that plot allotment was done with biases and mostly to influential people. I think if people have any morality left after committing such open corruption, the best course to follow are:

    1. resign from the post on moral ground
    2. surrender the land to the government

    And let ACC clean up Bhutanese society for the present and future generations.

    Cheers

  4. Positivist | February 1st, 2013 at 09:36:11

    I think Jabmi for the defendant should be addressed as ‘counsel for the defendant’ not as ‘legal council’. ‘Council’ and “counsel’ are not the same. It is petty but it irritates the reader.

  5. logical | January 31st, 2013 at 16:17:59

    Crazy will go crazier as they are already cracked and fail support for their weak and biased views. Professing noble deed of TAHING ACTION AGAINST THE CORRUPT will not guarantee success unless corruption is proved. Instead, the good name of the organization may be mired if the process fails and that is what begins to appear… So sorry for ACC.

  6. crazy | January 31st, 2013 at 15:06:27

    ACC had proved with enough evidence of corruption involvement and now there is no reson to prolong further? Jabmi’s statement is really baseless.

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