The OAG had dismissed the case stating it did not merit criminal proceedings

Trongsa dzongkhag court deferred the preliminary hearing on the alleged illegal land transaction case in Trongsa to April 20, after the main defendants did not report to the court yesterday.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) charged six individuals comprising the former dzongdag Lhab Dorji, his wife Karma Tshetim Dolma, the then Trongsa drangpon Ugyen Tenzin, two former gups, Drakteng gup Tenzin and Nubi gup Phuntsho of Trongsa, and the National Land Commission’s surveyor Kelzang Nima to the Trongsa dzongkhag court on February 15 this year after the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) dismissed the case in December last year.

The OAG dismissed the case after reviewing the ACC’s findings stating there was no legal basis to prosecute them.

ACC will be charging the involved for forgery, execution of documents by deception, official misconduct and misuse of power. ACC officials said section 128.3 of the ACC Act gives them the authority to prosecute the case.

The section states the commission may carry out its own prosecution of a person charged with an offence under the Act or take over the prosecution process from the OAG when the case is delayed without a valid reason, manipulated, or hampered by interference. ACC officials said they decided to prosecute the case because OAG manipulated the case.

The case surfaced after a landowner, Gyalmo, complained to the ACC that she did not sell her land to Karma Tshetim Dolma. Gyalmo filed a case against Karma Tshetim Dolma with the Trongsa court in 2011 but was dismissed, stating that the same court adjudicated the matter before.

ACC’s investigation found that in 2005, Karma Tshetim Dolma colluded with Drakteng gup Tenzin and late Tshogpa Rinchen to fraudulently register four plots of land measuring 2.77 acres at Taktse, which were already acquired by the ministry and registered under Thram No. 514 in 2003.

According to ACC’s investigation, the forged sale deeds were processed through the Trongsa court with the intent to claim substitute land in Nubi gewog where Karma Tshetim Dolma had later constructed a resort after the Department of Survey and Land Records approved land substitution in 2007.

ACC alleged that both the then Trongsa dzongdag Lhab Dorji and Dragteng gup Tenzin were aware of the four plots having been acquired by the government.

The ACC forwarded its findings to the OAG on July 17, 2015 after finding a prima facie of illegal transactions of land that were listed under Thram No. 514 of the education ministry, allocation of land substitution and regularisations of excess lands, which are in direct relation to the land acquisitions for the establishment of College for Language and Culture Studies (CLCS).

OAG dismissed the case, stating they did not find merit to initiate criminal proceedings. OAG stated that the alleged transactions were caused due to administrative lapses of the state authorities and the failure of few individuals who had passed away before the ACC investigation.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) team, led by a commissioner, returned to Thimphu yesterday.

Nima Wangdi, Trongsa