OAG released Lal Chand  on Nu 80 M bail, ACC demanded Nu 184M

Corruption: The release of Lal Chand, the owner of JPLP departmental store in Phuentsholing, on a bail of Nu 80 million (M) by the Attorney General yesterday has got the Anti-Corruption Commission questioning the decision.

Kuensel sources said Lal Chand was released on bail after the amount was reportedly negotiated between the Attorney General and Lal Chand.

ACC officials said they were not aware how the bail amount was arrived at and how the suspect was released. “We just heard that Lal Chand was released today,” an ACC official said.

The ACC detained Lal Chand since June 17 for allegedly evading tax amounting to more than Nu 184M between 2011 and 2014. The commission denied Lal Chand’s bail, as nobody was willing to come forward as his guarantor and pay Nu 184M.

On the bail amount, Attorney General Shera Lhundup, who was on his way back to Thimphu from Phuentsholing last night, said, “to be pragmatic in essence, we have settled out the bail amount at Nu 80M and set Lal Chand free from custody today.” The Nu 80M, he said is inclusive of Lal Chand’s Phuentsholing building for Nu 7.5M and Nu 10.47M from dues collection from Bhutanese.

“To be pragmatic is the soul of our cherished rule of law and its essence is never to ask a dead man to walk,” Attorney General Shera Lhundup said.

In an earlier interview, ACC official said that the commission has agreed to release Lal Chand on bail on the grounds that his family brings a surety or a guarantor. The commission was insisting on a guarantor as required by law because when the commission earlier sent the proprietor of Vikas Medical Services on bail, he did not turn up and the case is still pending before the court.

Lal Chand is charged for various fraudulent practices like tax evasion, deflection of goods, false invoicing and declaration of goods. Based on ACC’s findings, the OAG had filed five cases against five business entities, including Lal Chand at the Phuentsholing dungkhag court on September 4.

Lal Chand’s accomplice, Raj Chowdary, is charged for aiding and abetting in tax evasion through tampering of documents and invoices.

The court normally grants bail to an accused on conditions that the accused or the guarantor makes himself or herself available to the police or court as and when required during the course of the investigation or trial.

They should also agree to remain within the limits of any particular area as prescribed in the bail order; and abstain from making any inducement, threat or promise, directly or indirectly, to a person acquainted with the facts of the case to dissuade the person from disclosing such facts to the court or the police.

Meanwhile, the court proceedings of the five business entities are expected to begin next month and will be heard by the drangpon of Chukha district court. Lal Chand has reportedly hired a Bhutanese lawyer, Bhutan Law Services to represent him before the court.

Rinzin Wangchuk