Today the 4th September,2015 Kuensel issue carries the details of verdict on Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje court case. He has been convicted of misuse of public property. It was one of the two criminal charges that former Attorney General filed against then the Foreign Minister for irregularities committed as Haa Dzongda.
The new Attorney General had not wanted to appeal the Haa Trial Court verdict that vindicated the Minister. But ACC outgoing Chief Dasho Neten refused to budge and called for ACC right to appeal and prosecute the case.
The High Court denied ACC the right to appeal or prosecute but indirectly called upon OAG to appeal. The Attorney General dropped the graver charge of Tender manipulation and appealed the less significant case of recovery of vehicle hire charges. To pre-empt criminal conviction, the OAG asked the Court to drop the charge of misuse of public property and instead institute the charge of administrative sanction.
The High Court Bench I which denied the ACC to prosecute this very case also refused to be bonded by the desires of the Attorney General in the conduct of the judicial process of the case in the Court. The charge of misuse of public property was retained and the defendant is now convicted on this account.
Now Lyonpo Rinzin Dorji is in a situation that one calls from frying pan into fire and it all happened because of attempting to white wash a black object in the open with raw lime and Oophs ! It rained cats and dogs ! He could lose his constituency seat.
Sorry Lyonpo. I felt the loss of cabinet post was an adequate penalty especially when one sees the kind of loose nets in Bhutan's political and social corruption cases. But really you should have been more realistic at the Trial Court. Could have volunteered to pay the full 10 trip hire charges and explained your this and the other tender lapse on political and social circumstances that prevailed in that period of time. There were justifiable reasons. A less ACC humiliating verdict could have prevented the appeal and saved the cabinet post.
The verdict of the Trial Court smacked of a Judge under duress producing a stressful outcome. The hon'ble Judge had declared his self interest of a spiritual brothership with the defendant but the Supreme Court refused to free him from adjudicating the case. There were genuine logistical problems for the Judiciary. My comment on the Trial Court verdict, at that time, was that, " I had not expected such a white wash ". A more curative verdict could have prevented the outburst of ACC Chief who felt that it was an insult not a judicial verdict.
Now the ball is in the Speaker's Court. Only Parliament can delist convicted MP. After that Election Commission can hold reelection. But before that the defendant can appeal to the Supreme Court. I hope the defence lawyer again would not resort to that hopeless ground of emergency excuse. What kind of emergency situation is ferrying ten truck loads of personal goods using government trucks on ten different occasions ? And what kind of monumental flops are taught in some law schools or do pass outs expect spiritual brothers in every Court to understand brotherly emergency !
If there is some constitutional ground to hold on to the constituency's seat, then forget appeal and accept the verdict with all humility. But if MP status is at stake then its better to appeal but make appeal on more substantial ground to repeal the criminal conviction on the vehicle misuse. And if acceptable to High Court pay the hire charges and the penalties thereof before the appeal to Supreme Court on the one year sentence. There may be a window of reprieve. There could be another reasonable way of looking at a Dzongda's need to use the Pool vehicle instead of hiring other transport. But that view must be shown by the defence lawyer. Good Luck to the Defendant.
Whilst in Haa do not fear Ap Chundu. But Beware of Miri Phuensum the sacred title that Haaps have for the Triple Gem.