Investigation: A series of long-drawn investigations involving former Chang Gup Naku in the cases related to alleged fraudulent practices, illegal regularisation and transaction of government land is expected to be completed soon.
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) is preparing two more reports to be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for probable prosecution. As of now, three cases have been forwarded to OAG after the anti-graft started investigating these allegations in mid-2013.
Of the two cases forwarded to OAG recently, one was a report on the alleged fraud and collusion pertaining to the sale of a 50-decimal plot of government land in Babesa involving the former Chang Gup, a land owner and two former employees of the erstwhile department of survey and land record (DSLR).
ACC’s report alleged that sometime between 1999 and 2000, Naku had colluded with Pema Wangdi and Kezang Tenzin, both former employees of DSLR, in the selling of 50-decimal government land near Barp Lhakhang to Kapil Mani Sharma and his sister Dil Maya Sharma.
According to the report, Naku, who was the Chang gup between 1999 and 2001, arranged with Yangchen Dema to sell a five-decimal apple orchard registered in the name of her late mother Sonam Choden by manipulating the plot size to 55 decimals. The plot was sold for Nu 825,000 through Naku, who got about Nu 425,000 from the transaction.
Naku claimed that he made an arrangement with Yangchen Dema’s sister Denka, who was then in financial problems, to buy the five-decimal plot at Nu 400,000.
The Land Act 1979 permits registration of excess land (subject to limit of 12 decimals per acre) only in case of chhuzhing, pangzhing, kamzhing and kitchen gardens without clear boundaries.
Chapter six of the New Sathram Compilation (NSC) guidelines issued by the home ministry in 1998 does not allow measurement of excess land for orchard land.
The ACC report alleged that Pema Wangdi and Kezang Tenzin materially assisted Naku and Yangchen Dema by forging and tampering with official records (Chazhag Thram and field Kappa form) to make it appear that late Sonam Choden had 55 decimals of land in her thram when she had only five decimals.
“While closer scrutiny of late Sonam Choden’s thram, which had only .05 decimals, the first number “0” had been tampered and made 5, making it 55 decimals,” said the report.
In his statement to the commission, Pema Wangdi admitted to having prepared the Kappa form during the NSC 2000 based on Naku’s request, who is alleged to have indicated that Kezang Tenzin had already tampered with the Chazhag thram. However, Kezang Tenzin denied that he tampered with the record although he accepted that he made an internal agreement for transaction and filed it to the court.
Naku denied that he requested any surveyor or land record official to alter the record. He said that the plot measured 50 decimals extra on top of five during the NSC survey in 2000. He added that present with him at that time were Kapil Mani Sharma and the surveyors. He also authenticated to the court that the plot measured 55 decimals based on the Kappa form rather than from the gewog’s record.
In her statement to ACC, Dil Maya Sharma said that she knew the land was for sale when Naku first showed her the land below the statue in Babesa, locally known as Barp Lhakhang. She said that the landowner was not present at that time. She then discussed with her brother Kapil Sharma to purchase the land jointly and asked him to represent her in processing all the required transaction formalities.
The investigation found that her brother had done all the transactions from executing internal agreement and attending the field survey.
According to the sale agreement signed between late Sonam Choden and Dil Maya Sharma on August 28, 2000, Yangchen Dema was a close friend of Dil Maya Sharma and that Sonam Choden was transferring 55-decimal orchard to Dil Maya Sharma as a gift.
In the same year, on December 6, Thimphu district court passed the verdict clearing the transfer of the 55-decimal orchard to Dil Maya Sharma. However, DSLR discovered irregularities in the acreage transacted through the court when the verdict was sent to the home ministry for effecting necessary updates on the main thram records. DSLR then corrected the size of the plot back to five decimals.
Following the discovery of such irregularities, the National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) did not entertain Kapil Sharma’s repeated requests to regularise the 50-decimal plot.
“The commission is satisfied to conclude that investigation has obtained sufficient evidence of prima facie case against Naku, Yangchen Dema, Pema Wangdi and Kezang Tenzin,” said the investigation report. “Therefore, the case merits to be forwarded to the OAG for criminal prosecution.”
The commission recommended OAG to charge the four individuals for encroaching into government land and forging and tampering with the Chazhag thram record.
The commission, however, could not implicate Kapil Mani Sharma and Dil Maya Sharma because the investigation could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that they knew about the illegality of the excess land and the manipulation of thram records at the time of transaction in 2000.
The third report that the commission forwarded to OAG on July 7 was about encroaching on 132 decimals of government land at Gangchey and Chang Debsi in 2000 involving five individuals, including former Gup Naku.
The first case on fraudulent registration and encroachment of 1.37 acres of government land in Tshalumaphey involving 11 people was forwarded to OAG in June.