Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Suspension and Termination the ugly and the unfair happenings.

I know that suspension is harrowing and and termination from service is an extreme measure . But in the name of Palden Drukpa,  Bhutanese Authority must appear to be fair in public. 

Right now, Bhutan has one law but not applied uniformly. It is no longer a perception that some are privileged above laws. This is really the norm and has become the practice. 

My thoughts:

1. Suspension should not be mandatory but it is absolutely necessary when investigating an official whose official position can influence the investigation process by way of proximity to witnesses or have opportunity to  tamper with evidence or manipulate records.  The official should be restricted from coming to office or carrying out his normal official responsibilities. But full basic salary should be paid during such necessary suspension. Not 50% of the basic. 

2. Once the investigation is completed, suspension order should be withdrawn. The official should be called back to work immediately upon the completion of the investigation.  

3. If  convicted by the Trial Court ( Lower Court ) then suspension  should be reinstated immediately from the date of conviction  and without any salary benefit. Why pay a convict?   

4. If conviction is upheld by Appeal Courts, then the convict should be relieved from the service with retrospective effect from the date of the conviction by the Lower Court. 

5. When being relieved from service, service benefits should be paid in full till the date of conviction by the Lower Court ( Trial Court ). Denial of further service opportunity should suffice for penalty from the employing Agency. All other penalties would be covered in the guilty verdict issued by the Court. Presently civil servants are penalised twice for one crime. 

6. If  Appeal Court overturns the Lower Court's guilty verdict, then the concerned official should be reinstated to official position immediately and all salary dues of past months of suspension paid in full. 

Today in Bhutan there are different application of Law/ Regulations varying upon the social and political position of an accused official. 

a) For some officials with social connection and with governing Political Party backings, the relevant provisions of the  Laws and Regulationa are suspended. Not the affected officials.

b) For Officials without social connections and with no  backings from political Party in governance, the provisions of the  Laws and Regulations are activated and the Officials are suspended and even terminated from service without any service benefits.

And these cases of blatant parliality and and uneven applications of Laws, Rules and Regulations are taking place in broad daylight and in full public view. Every Institution is aware of what is going on. 

Thus Bhutan is one tiny nation where power corruption is  huge and openly endorsed in the manner of competitive sports. There is no shame and no morality and definitely no sense of accountability.  

In the recent Trongsa Land case convictions, the sentences of imprisonment was passed for all guilty defendants. But defendants were not arrested and imprisoned. As per prevailing practice since the 2013 Supreme Court Order, all those  convicted to prison sentences are handed over to Police custody immediately upon passing the sentence by the Trial Court. But that did not happen this time. Under prevailing judicial practice,  bail is granted only by the Appeal Court after the Preliminary  Appeal Hearing. However, this time the convicts were allowed to walk free from Trongsa Court. And ignorant Media was all so silent ( Kuensel, BBS tv and The Bhutanese ). And all the Institutions acted in the manner that " all are rotten in the State of Demmark " and one such case is not an exception in Bhutan.   

By the way this judicial magnamity shown by Trongsa Court in not enforcing its own verdict had nothing to do with the main accused former Dzongdag Lhab Dorji. I believe he was not aware why Trongsa Court did not have the convicted people arrested if such was the ongoing judicial procedure. ( this clarification is for those who might assume that " former Dzongdag is too powerful". I have read such views before ).

The common people maybe wondering how come all these blatant power corruptions take place right out in the open public space.  Are democratic institutions like the Cabinet and Autonomous institution like the Royal Civil Service Commission and Judicial Courts more powerful than the Throne? I do not think so. But what stops a People's King from ensuring uniform and equal application of Laws and Rules and Regulations? Perhaps His Majesty is restrained by the necessity to preserve and respect " the Principle of Democracy ".  If His Majesty tries to set aright all the blatant wrongs, it could be construed that "Absolute Monarchy " is back. Recall that during Absolute Monarchy Reign, even red and orange scarf Officials were sent to prison once convicted.

Hereatfer, I hope that the Prime Minister, the  Chief Justice and the Chairpersons of Constitutional Bodies especially ACC and RCSC upholds the resposibility and 
collectively find the courage and will to apply same conditions and procedures  to all the people of Bhutan. If those  convicted by the Trial Courts are to be allowed to continue in service as Ministers or Civil Servants and for commoners to be free not imprisoned till Appeal processes are completed in full, then make such a right entitled by all Bhutanese not just few privileged officials. 
Bhutanese subjects of the same King should enjoy equal rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

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