… to deter others from committing similar crimes

Rinzin Wangchuk and Tashi Dema

More than three years after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigated the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) and the traffic division of the Royal Bhutan Police for illegal issuance of driving license, it claimed about 60 people were convicted in various courts for the crime.

The commission issued a press release on February 9, detailing how RSTA officials, traffic police personnel and private individuals colluded to issue or obtain ordinary driving licenses, professional driving licenses and change of vehicle ownership.

It was learnt that the case first surfaced in 2018 after complaints were lodged against traffic police constables for facilitating illegal license issuance.

Police then conducted investigation and suspended three constables and forwarded the case to ACC for further investigation.

ACC’s investigation found a racket where many professional driving licenses were issued based on fake certificates of professional driving assessment.

According to the commission’s press release, two RSTA officials, Pema Wangdi and late Jamyang Dorji issued an ordinary driving license to Indra Maya Timsina on June 1, 2018.

Indra Maya Timsina did not even take the driving test.

Late Jamyang Dorji and another RSTA official, Thinley Dorji, issued ordinary driving license to Elawati Bhujel on June 18, 2018.

Two other RSTA officials, Netra Prasad Karki and Sangay Dorji issued an ordinary driving license to Wangchen. Wangchen also did not take the driving test.

A private individual, Pema Dorji, produced 36 fake national certificate level 2, which were used to obtain the illegal professional driving license.

According to the press release, Pema Dorji used one fake certificate for himself and sold the other certificates to people for Nu 671,900.

It stated that since Pema Dorji did not have the skills to design and print the fake certificates, he sought help from Mamta Acharya and Gobin Gurung of Amen Arts and Prints in Thimphu.

It also stated that Mamta Acharya helped Pema Dorji to make a fake seal of the Department of Professional Standards of the labour ministry. “Pema Dorji paid Nu 10,000 to Mamta Acharya for a certificate and seal, he paid Nu 350,000 to Gobin Gurung for 35 fake certificates.”

ACC’s investigation also revealed that two traffic police personnel, Gopa Jigme and Gopa Thukten Chophel, attempted to process license fraudulently, collecting Nu 168,000 from 13 people and Nu 137,000 from 12 people. “Gopa Jigme had also forged a car sale deed and defrauded the owner by Nu 5,000,” the press release stated.

It stated that Thimphu dzongkhag court and Haa dzongkhag court rendered judgement recently, convicting more than 60 defendants to imprisonment ranging from six months to one and half years. “The courts also ordered the license obtained illegally to be cancelled. It ordered restitution of Nu 417,200.”

ACC officials said that of the six RSTA officials involved, two worked in Thimphu, but one expired in 2020. The other officials worked in Haa, Paro, Tsimatsham and Gedu.

“The RSTA official in Haa was sentenced to eight months in prison,” an official said. “He was also ordered to restitute Nu 15,000.”

Thimphu dzongkhag court convicted the RSTA official in Paro, Tsimasham and Gedu to one year each in prison.

ACC officials said they issued the press release to create deterrence in the society and to name and shame. “From hereon, all judgments will be shared publicly.”

Police sources said two traffic police personnel found guilty of the crime were terminated.