Monday, June 1, 2015

The Way Forward to Justice.

Just went through new Attorney General interview with Kuensel. Glad to note a meeting of mind point. The Attorney General stated to quote," the OAG shall not seek conviction. Our pursuit will be for justice".

This satisfies my SMS sent to him when I heard of his appointment. The message dtd 22nd May was to quote ," Dear Dasho Congratulations ! May you leave a footprint of justice."

I did not get an acknowledgement of receipt of my SMS. Even if he read it, I am sure it did not influence him. But I always felt that all those involved in judicial Trial Processes be they  prosecution, defence or Court,  should uphold justice as their priority number one. I am glad that such an intent has been publicly expressed by the new Attorney General. I suppose others before him could have been also guided by such a noble principle.

I came to know Dasho Sherab Lhendup only after he became a private citizen. I first met him at the office of former Kuensel Managing Director by chance.  I liked him. I hope he will be able to fulfill the goals he had set for OAG.

I have heard MPs debate on the tenure of the Attorney General as well as opinions of individuals in the social media. I have not yet looked into the constitutional responsibility of the Attorney General and the Government of the day so no personal opinion of my own. The fact seems to be that Attorney General is chosen by the Prime Minister and therefore it is different from other constitutional Appointees.

He said in the interview that he is, " answerable to the King as well."
I suppose everyone in Bhutan is answerable to the King one way or the other. Bhutan is a living Kingdom not a museum of past royalty tradition like England or few other European nations with titular Royal State Heads.  So such a statement is kind of run of the mill applicable to every Bhutanese citizen. The telltale would be whose order is OAG suppose to take. In many Countries it is quite clear but in Bhutan the line of authority gets blurred.

In my personal view, I found the Constitution itself a contradiction in a fundamental  way.  The Constitution kind of endorses the process of democracy and almost everyone who have some authority agrees that Constitution is the Mother of Laws. In fact the Bhutanese word for Constitution ( TSA Thrim ) literally means Foundation of Laws. So it is the Mother of Laws.

However, no one can seek refuge of the Constitution through its interpretation by the Supreme Court unless the King deems the grievance of a citizen or institution warrants the Supreme Court to take up the case. This procedure is as per the Constitution. Possibly the Constitution Drafting Committee had been wary of a complete ways of Democracy and like most Bhutanese trusted the King to weigh the validity of a supposed constitutional case.

In a way,  this constitutional stricture appears to place the onus of deciding whether a case of constitutional infringement has occurred or not upon the King rather than the Supreme Court. Likewise when the Attorney General says he is answerable to the King , I just wonder where that leaves the Government of the day. OAG presently may be only taking up criminal cases forwarded by the  Police or Anti Corruption Commission but OAG is also the prosecuting arm of the Government for any legal case the Government decides to take to the Court. So how effective a Cabinet decision would be to prosecute if the Head of its legal arm is not totally under its authority ?  I suppose the Office of Attorney General like all newly instituted bodies of Democracy will  evolve as Bhutan learn the ways to give true voice to the people in general.

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