Land: The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has frozen transactions and developmental activities of 19 plots of land, measuring about 2.867 acres in Debsi in Chang gewog in Thimphu.

The freeze notice was issued on December 21.

According to the ACC freeze notice issued in the media, the 19 plots belonging to individuals, including justices of the Supreme Court and High Court, and parliamentarians, were alleged to have been government pasture land, which the present Chang gup Kanjur, during his tenure as Chang gup in 2006, facilitated the illegal transfer to a woman named Tenzin. The woman then sold it to the individuals.

The notice also states that the freeze notice will remain effective until the commission revokes it by superseding the order or after it completes the due process of law.

ACC, while investigating the alleged fraudulent transfer and registration of state land to private individuals by former Chang gup Naku, came across the alleged illegal transfer.

This is the second major fraudulent land case that involves a former local leader in Thimphu the ACC is investigating.
Chang gup Kanjur said ACC called him thrice to their office and he explained his side of the story to the officials. “I made it very clear that if I committed the crime, the case should be forwarded to court but the officials should understand that although the alleged illegal transfer took place in my tenure, none of the transactions have my signature,” he said.

Gup Kanjur also explained that when the alleged transfer of land took place, the dzongkhag and survey office asked the previous gup, Naku, to chair all the land transaction activities and he was, therefore, not involved in the transfer process.

He also said that ACC is accusing him of facilitating the transfer by writing a letter for the transfer of land. “That could be because I served Chang gewog in various capacities including mangmi and tshogpa. I could have wrote most of the official letters from the gewog.”

Gup Kanjur, however, said that the land in question was tsamdro of the woman and she has been paying taxes. “The 19 people who bought the land also did it legally,” he said. “I request ACC to investigate it properly.”

Meanwhile, ACC has completed its investigation on the alleged illegal transfer and transaction of state land to private individuals by the former Chang gup Naku and forwarded it to the Office of Attorney General.

ACC had frozen transactions of about 18.89 acres of land belonging to 24 people in connection with the case since October 2014.

ACC, in its 2015 annual report stated that officials, who were appointed and elected to a position of public trust, abused their authority and position for private gains. “Abuse of authority, together with abuse of privileged information, resulted in fraudulent transfer of state land to individuals.”

Tashi Dema