Gyalpoizhing Land Allotment Case: While the three Allotment Committee members laid the responsibility of decisions taken then on the Committee Chairman, the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) rebuttal submitted yesterday, to the Mongar District Court, argued that all three were guilty of official misconduct.
Former Mongar Dzongrab, Tappo, Vice Chairman of the Land Allotment Committee, was the first defendant to hear the rebuttal statement, followed by Tashi Norbu Sherpa, who was member secretary, and CL Das, a committee member.
ACC’s submission said that, as a Vice Chairman of a Land Allotment Committee, Tappo must be held responsible and accountable for his failure to conduct his responsibility diligently.
As Vice Chairman, he was equally responsible for allotting plots to the Drametse Dratshang in Mongar, and Kharchu Dratshang in Bumthang, as well as allotting plots to two Royal Family members, and one plot to a private individual in 2005.
Tappo also was Vice Chairman of the Plot Allotment Committee in 2001, during which 26 commercial plots and 41 residential plots were allotted to individuals, who did not qualify as per the set criteria.
The rebuttal statement also says that the 1991 Government circular, received through the then Zonal Administrator, prohibits or restricts allotment of plots to those, who do not fulfil the Government approved criteria, which is preference to those with valid business licenses and permanently settled there.
But Tappo failed to exercise due diligence in allotment of plots, and is therefore guilty of official misconduct.
With regards to Tashi Norbu Sherpa, who was the Member Secretary, the rebuttal says he knew the criteria for allotment of commercial plots. Therefore, it was his responsibility to prepare the list of applicants for allotment, and segregate the applicants into eligible and non-eligible lists, based on Government approved criteria. It was also his duty to apprise the Chairman on such criteria, before enlisting plot allotments on the meeting agenda.
The minutes of the meeting, held in 2005, recorded the two religious institutes having submitted the request for plots within Gyalpoizhing municipal area. It was indeed to allot the plots to sustain the institutes in the long run, and he recorded the minutes of the meeting.
In his submission, Tashi Norbu Sherpa had presumed that there was an order from the Chairman to allot plots, but the ACC rebuttal says the defendant cannot seek refuge under respondent superior, unless the defendant was under a legal obligation to obey orders of the Chairman.
The very fact that the responsibility was entrusted to the municipal committee was to ensure collective responsibility, through exercise of due diligence, and to prevent mis-allotment of plots, by ways of undue favour and abuse of authority, as done in these cases, the rebuttal said.
Contrary to his submission, the issue at hand was about executive decision, and not about policy decision.
Since allotment of plots requires taking difficult decisions, the committee members consisted of senior officials of the Dzongkhag, with the responsibility to do the right thing, regardless of what may be a popular decision.
The defendant’s submission that he refrained from signing the minutes to indicate his disagreement is untenable, since the minutes are not required to be signed by all the members of the committee, and none of the committee members have signed on the minutes, the rebuttal said.
As per Section 37 (iii) of the Bhutan Municipal Act of 1999, only the Chairman of the committee is required to sign the minutes to confirm the minutes. This was done in these cases. If there was disagreement, then the decision must be based on simple majority of votes, as per section 40 of the Bhutan Municipal Act of 1999.
With regards to the former Assistant Engineer, CL Das, as a member of the Plot Allotment Committee, should have been aware of the criteria set by the Government, the rebuttal said. Whether it is the District Engineer or Assistant Engineer, what matters is that he was there during the meeting as a committee member, and failed to function in his role as a member.
ACC’s rebuttal said, if there was disagreement during the meeting, then the decision must be based on simple majority of votes, as per section 40 of the Bhutan Municipal Act of 1999. But plots were allotted to those, who did not fulfil the Government set criteria. The very purpose of having a committee is to look into the matter and take the right decision, not to eyewash as a committee.
The three of them will submit their second rebuttal statement on January 8.
Also in this series: Gyalpoizhing Land Scam in Court
- Dechen Singye Defends Gyalpoizhing Plot Allotment
- Gyalpoizhing Land Allotment Committee Members in Mongar Court
- Minjur Dorji in Mongar Court for Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case
- ACC Rebuts Gyalpoizhing Land Allotment Committee Members
- ACC Rebuts Speaker Jigme Tshultim in Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case
- Mongar Court Full Steam with Gylapoizhing Land Scam Case
- Minjur Dorji Must Be Held Responsible
- Jigme Tshultim is Accused of Forgery, Deceptive Practices, Sale of Government Land and Illegal Registration of Government Land
- ACC: Minjur Dorji Illegally Gave Land to Kharchu Dratshang and Drametse Dratshang
- Speaker Jigme Tshultim Says Not Guilty
- Speaker Jigme Tshultim Wants TV Broadcast From The Courtroom
- Gyalpoizhing Land Beneficiaries Related to High Ranking Officials
- Minjur Dorji Wrote Minutes of the Meeting in His Own Handwriting
- PM JYT: Speaker and Home Minister Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
- Jigme Tshultim Provided With Heaters in Mongar Court
- Gyalpoizhing Land Scam Case Court Verdict
- Finally A Superman – Er… A Superwoman