Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officials said they were reviewing the Attorney General Office’s (OAG) opinion on each of the charges it made against plot allotment committee members in the Gyalpoizhing land case.
While they choose not to comment on the issue during the process of review, sections of the population, closely following the developments of the case, have already begun exchanging views on it.
The opinion was greeted with derision, in that some said they sort of anticipated such an outcome, or that this was expected and greeted also with disbelief, because the OAG officials deemed legal all that transpired with regards to the case.
National Council member Karma Yezer Raydi said he did not buy OAG’s argument that all land allotment was legal, just because the committee formed to determine the plot allotments was legal. “It’s not a sound argument to me,” he said. For instance, he said, there were various committees that were legally formed for specific purposes, like the tender committee. “The decisions they make have to be based on various rules, laws and Acts,” he said. “If they fail to do that, they can’t stick to their decision on the pretext of having been formed legally, which automatically renders their decision legal.”
Apart from that, as a lawmaker, he said, the issue threw an indication of the need to rethink the structure of the institution.
In the Constitution, he said, the Attorney General was the legal advisor to and legal representative of the government, who was appointed by His Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, although the case may not be against the government but a few individuals forming it.
“There is a need to rethink this structure, if it undermines the institution and its purpose and function,” he said. “Otherwise we doubt if it can carry out its mandate fairly.” He suggested the need to have an independent prosecutor, while the OAG continues to be the legal arm of the government.
A legal expert supported this proposal and said, because of this provision, people will always think the OAG had defended the government, and possibilities of them doing so was also possible. “The justifications they provided for lack of legal basis was, otherwise, fine,” he said.
An elected local leader in the east, who wished not to be named, said he was not expecting such an outcome. Many people in the villages, he said, received stiff penalties by a villagers’ standard for similar cases.
“It’s sad that, while some people are subject to some sort of prosecution, others are exempt from it,” he said, adding they were always told that rule of law was important in a democracy, and that its uniform application was even more crucial.
“This case proves what villagers normally say about laws being only for the small and the poor,” the Gup said. “Or that there are two laws in the country.”
Having followed all the reports on the case, discussions among people and learning that ACC took almost a year investigating it, a civil servant said that what the OAG had to say about it all was but a bathos.
”We were led to believe there was something in the case,” he said. “Otherwise why was the investigation report forwarded to OAG, if ACC had not found anything in the case?”
Council member Karma Yezer Raydi also said, to get the complete picture and learn the full facts, it was important to know what the ACC report contained.
“This isn’t the end of the story,” he said. “It’s in ACC’s court and it’s for them to play out,” a lawyer added.
From KUENSEL on 22 September 2012
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