Land Allotment Case It was Speaker Jigme Tshultim’s second rebuttal statement to the court yesterday and, as in his first statement, this time too he pled not guilty.
He reiterated that all land allotments then were done in accordance with the government order and kaja (royal decree).
He said, while the 1987 kaja disallowed allotment of land, the subsequent kaja of 1991, and the letter that came from the zonal administrator, in keeping with the King’s kaja, let the Gyalpoizhing land in question today be allotted.
“Therefore, the 1987 kaja should have been superseded by the one that followed in 1991,” he said.
Coming to varying plot sizes allotted to different people, he said plot allotment was done in accordance with the kaja and the government order that had set no specific criteria to allot stipulated plot sizes.
He also said they followed the Bhutan Municipal Act of 1999.
The Act, he said, gave municipal committee the responsibility and authority to allot land.
“After the land allotment for Gyalpoizhing residents, they also received timber kidu from the King,” he said. “This is evident that the whole process was done in accordance with the law, and that there was no disagreement from the King.”
The power to allot building plots, he added, rested with respective dzongdas, who were aided by committees.
Touching on ACC’s authority, he said there was a tussle in the roles and responsibilities between two constitutional bodies.
ACC investigating and prosecuting its own case went against the due process of law and equity and justice.
“Article 1 of our Constitution clearly says that Office of the Attorney General has the sole authority to charge cases to court,” he said.
Using section 128 (3) of ACC Act, which delegates them the authority to prosecute, to charge him to court, the speaker said, was unconstitutional.
“As a speaker and legislator, we make laws, and I know our laws, just as I know the legal precedent this case is setting,” he said. “There is every chance such precedent will hamper the country’s Constitution and hamper governance.”
ACC, he said, had the right to investigate and prosecute cases that came after its Act came into force.
“I don’t understand how ACC has retrospectively applied the law,” he said, adding article 27 (6) of Constitution stated that ACC must function within the purview of their Act.
“They’re going against their own Act,” he said. “ACC is acting as a state, by not following their own Act.”
He also said the case lacked legal standing, because ACC was charging him under Thrimzhung Chhenmo and not their own Act.
“ACC doesn’t have the right to investigate and prosecute cases relating to what happened more than a decade ago,” he said. “They are misusing their power.”
By Dechen Tshering, Mongar