Corruption: A total of 1.32 acres of government land at Gangchey and Chang Debsi in Chang gewog, Thimphu, were illegally encroached, measured and registered as private land during the new sathram compilation (NSC) survey in 2000.

This was one of the findings of a series of investigations the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) conducted over the past three years into the allegation of many land fraud cases in Thimphu against Naku during his tenure as gup of Chang gewog between 1999 and 2001.

The investigation revealed that the NSC, conducted between 1997 and 2003 for the entire country to verify and validate the legitimacy of exact land holdings of a juristic person, was used to manipulate land holdings and grab government land.

“This was possible because of his official position as a gup coupled with his nexus with government surveyors, Naku was in a position to advantage himself and others,” the ACC’s report, forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for prosecution recently states.

The report alleges that former gup, Naku played a pivotal role in illegally registering a 93-decimal plot of government land in favour of Passang Dema and another 39-decimals in favour of his brother-in-law Gyembo Tshering, both in Chang gewog.

During the NSC survey in November 2000, the anti-graft’s findings stated that Passang Dema, using the influence of former gup, Naku had illegally measured 31-decimals of government land at Gangchey as her residential plot through falsification and misrepresentation of field records. National Land Commission’s (NLC) former surveyor Wangchuk D, under the persuasion of Naku, was alleged to have manipulated the field record to make it appear that there was a house there at the time of the field survey when she had none.

The investigation also revealed that NLC’s former field land registrar and present land record assistant Sherab Dorji had falsely recorded that the house, which never existed, was constructed in 1978. They manipulated the record with an intention to create false circumstances that Passang Dema had been residing on government land prior to 1978 so that she could qualify to regularise a residential plot as permitted in the NSC guideline 1998. The guideline stated that the land owner was entitled to register a residential plot (khimsa) if the house had been constructed before 1979.

In another instance, Passang Dema with assistance from Naku, illegally measured 62-decimals of government land in Chang Debsi using the Kasho originally issued to the previous land owner, Dawa Dukpa, who was granted 2-acres of wetland as kidu in 1979. However, based on the field survey, Dawa Dukpa could register only 1.38 acres in his thram.

Later in November 1993, Dawa Dukpa exchanged this land with one-acre of dryland belonging to Passang Dema’s daughter, Sangay Dema. During the field survey,  Passang Dema, as guided by Naku, processed one false application in the name of Dawa Dukpa, to claim the remaining 62-decimals since the Kasho was for two acres.

Subsequently, the investigation report stated that NLC’s former survey team leader Pema Wangdi and the former surveyor Wangchuk D are alleged to have tampered with the Kapa thram and NSC map, which led to the registration of 62 decimals as Passang Dema’s private land. The investigation also determined that Naku, as a reciprocal advantage, had solicited and accepted 11 decimals free of cost from Passang Dema, who was serving as sai tshogpa at the time of survey.

The ACC found that Passang Dema sold the illegally acquired government land in parcels to many private buyers.

Pema Wangdi admitted of having updated late Sangay Dema’s land measuring 1.38-acres to two acres in line with the Kasho. Wangchuk D also stated that he updated the map as per the Kapa Thram.

Passang Dema in her statement to the commission stated that the existence of two acres in the Kasho was as informed by Naku. She claimed that she repeatedly requested Naku to help her if she was eligible.

Naku stated he vaguely remembered that Passang Dema’s land at Debsi as having a Kasho and that excess was found during the survey wherein he requested survey team to re-survey the plot. He also claimed to have paid Nu 55,000 to Passang Dema for 11-decimals transferred to him.

The report also alleged that Naku, to favour Gyembo Tshering of Lemo Construction, colluded with Pema Wangdi to illegally measure 39-decimals of excess land from government land despite their knowledge that excess land in case of Kasho land is inadmissible as per the provision of the Land Act 1979 and the NSC guideline 1998.

The investigation found that few months before the field survey, Gyembo Tshering had purchased 50-decimals from Passang Dema who had obtained it under a different Kasho. It is alleged that Naku was actively involved in processing the transaction, representing in the court and attending the field survey to show the boundaries.

The commission proposed Passang Dema to be charged for forgery while Naku and other conniving NLC’s former officials: Pema Wangdi, Wangchuk D and Sherab Dorji, to be prosecuted for encroachment of government land.

The commission had frozen about six plots measuring 1.32 acres and issued a general public notification in February 2015 cautioning individuals, institutions or any business entities to refrain from entering into any transactions.

ACC began investigations into this fraudulent registration of government land after a complaint was received through fax on March 29, 2009.  The complainant alleged that Passang Dema had constructed her house on illegally registered government land.

Three fraudulent land cases involving Naku were forwarded to the OAG since June and two more cases are expected to be referred shortly, according to the ACC officials.

What is Form Kapa?

Form Kapa is one of the most important field documents containing details pertaining to land holdings as per Chagzhag Thram, as per re-survey, total acreage, legalised land holdings, and government land. The land registrar/thram writer was required to provide the Form Kapa’s containing detailed land holdings of the thram holders to surveyors for carrying out of survey works on the ground. 

With the details of the land holding of thram holders, the surveyors were required to physically verify in the field and survey the land along with land owner, sai tshogpa and other adjacent owners. Finally, the surveyor submits the survey report in the Form Chapa to the thram writer. 

From the surveyor’s report the land registrar or thram writer updates plot acreage, land name and clerical correction in the Form Kapa in comparison with Chagzhag thrams. The land name correction and plot number correction was updated upon authentication by the surveyors.

Rinzin Wangchuk