Holders of Constitutional Offices
The holders of constitutional offices must receive adequate powers to enable them to function independently without fear or favor. Without such power, they will be unable to perform their duties as required. The holders of the constitutional offices are answerable only to Parliament, which has the sole power to impeach them for misbehavior or criminal acts as defined in supporting legislation and Acts.
Their Majesties during the public consultation informed that:
(a) We have incorporated the appointment of constitutional post holders by these five persons deliberately. It would not be possible to appoint a person whom they like. If the power lies only with one person to appoint, then there would be problems of choosing the ones they like. The holders of constitutional offices are very important and they have the duty and the responsibility to be the guardian of our Constitution. They should be able to work independently and impartially. Our provision on the appointment of the constitutional post holder is different from other countries but at the same time, it is a strong provision.190
(b) I think the holders of constitutional offices have big responsibilities. In other countries, the election of holders of constitutional office are drawn by the Prime Minister. In countries where they have regent, such representatives elect the holders of constitutional post. But I feel that their system has got a problem. There are chances that they might elect the person of their liking and those who will benefit them. In order to prevent such problem in our country, the election to the constitutional offices shall be done by a committee of five people after thorough discussion on the basis of the capability, loyalty, and willingness to serve the country and the people to the best of his capacity. The responsibility of electing the constitutional office holders lies on the following people; the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of National Assembly, the Leader of the Opposition Party and the Chairperson of the National Council. As I said earlier, the election shall be done by not one or two of them, but all five of them will sit together and discuss thoroughly before they elect the candidate. 191
(c) If I say some few words about the holders of constitutional offices, this is totally a different system. In our country, this system has been started for the benefit of the country under the command of His Majesty. Many countries do not have such systems as in our country. The constitutional post holders have very important role and responsibilities. If they serve well they can really benefit the country and the people. If they do not serve well and engage in corrupt practices, they may cause great harm/injury to the country and there is danger that they may injure the welfare of the people. For this reason, it is very important to select the best from among the best and appoint those persons who care for the country as the officials of the constitutional offices. Five people will sit together and select them. The five people are- firstly, the Prime Minister of our country, secondly, the Chief Justice, then the Speaker, the leader of the opposition party and the Chairperson of the National Assembly. These five people will sit together and discuss who will be good for the constitutional posts and will see who will care and serve the country well and then decide upon whom to be appointed. The appointment is not by one or two persons, but all these five people will have to sit together, discuss and then appoint the post holders. The reason why I say that our system is better than others is because appointment of the constitutional post holders is done by the representatives of the King if there is any, or by the Prime Minister. The prime Minister will nominate and appoint the post holders. So the appointment is not carried out by one or two persons. If the responsibility of appointing the holders of constitutional offices is given to one or two person, it is unsure as to what kind of person they will nominate and appoint. So, as I told earlier, the system of appointing constitutional post holders by five people is really good and there is reason for you all to be happy about it. Again with regard to the removal of the constitutional post holders, if they do not serve the country well with care and concern or if they engage in any unlawful activities, they have to be removed and this system of removal is really good. The removal is done through impeachment and the authority is given to the parliament. Giving the authority of impeachment to the parliament is similar to giving authority to the people. Later on, if they act in a way that is injurious or harmful to the country they have to be removed. Giving the authority of impeachment to the parliament and not to just one or two persons is an extremely good system that needs to be appreciated. 192
(d) Holders of the constitutional Offices have to shoulder huge responsibilities. These officers while serving the country would be able to do great deal of constructive work that would be very beneficial. On the other hand, if they do not discharge their functions properly, there is every risk of causing great harm to our country. Therefore, it is very important for us to select the best among the best candidates to be the holders of the constitutional Offices. In other countries, the Prime Minister selects the candidates for the constitutional offices. In case of regency, the regent selects the candidates for the constitutional Offices. These few persons can do things that can be of immense help or can do things, which can be of great harm to the country. They would be holding very important posts and as such we must have the best persons in these offices. If we leave this power in the hands of one or two persons, we cannot say what kind of candidates they would select for such a sacred post. They may select the candidate who is known to them or they may select the candidate who is not capable or they may select their relatives, we would never know. Therefore, in our case five persons will sit and discuss and then select the best candidate, but not by one or two persons as per their whims and fancy. Five members consist of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Speaker, the Opposition Party Leader and the Chairperson of National Council. They will sit and discuss and unanimously select the best-suited person from the list of candidates. It is a very good system and it will immensely benefit our country. One or two persons cannot remove the constitutional Office Holders. The Prime Minister cannot remove them. It means that even His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo has no power to remove them. It is clearly mentioned in our Draft Constitution that only the Parliament can impeach them. The system of impeachment is introduced in the Constitution. When we say that only the Parliament has the power to impeach the constitutional Office Holders, it means we are giving the power to our people. The power to judge or check the functions of these constitutional office holders is given to the members of Parliament. If we could function in accordance with this noble system, then it would instead of harming our country always benefit our country. 193
Constitutional and statutory office holders will be independent of party politics and be faithful to the oath to the Constitution. Lawless constitutional or statutory office is no different from tyranny of a Government. They are the bastion of hope and refuge of democracy for happiness under the Constitution.
Contributed by Sonam Tobgye, Thrimchi Lyonpo
To be continued
190 Public consultation in Wangdue Phodrang on 7/12/2005.
191 Public consultation in Tashiyangtse on 28/12/2005.
192 Public consultation in Gasa on 13/5/2006.
193 Public consultation in Bumthang on 21/5/2006.