Two men in Paro, who were fined and warned by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), have decided to appeal to the High Court against the commission’s decision after the general election.

ECB on October 6 upheld the Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) decision and fined Tsagay and Kado from Naja gewog, Paro with a minimum daily wage of 30 days for lodging a complaint on unreasonable grounds against a Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) party worker and candidate of Dogar-Shaba constituency.

They were fined and warned for insinuating discomfort and creating disharmony in the society as per the Election Dispute Settlement Rules and Regulations 2018. ECB also issued a warning to the two witnesses, Wangdi Gylethsen and Passang, who were involved in creating unnecessary disharmony and harassing people in the locality.

“We are not satisfied with the ECB’s decision and they denied our request for further investigation,” Tsagay said. “We will appeal to the High Court as per the electoral laws.”

Tsagay said that despite presenting evidence against the party worker, ECB failed to investigate the case and instead penalised them.

“In the first hearing, the witnesses changed their statement. But in the second hearing, despite submitting evidence to ECB, the judgment was against us instead of the ones who carried out the corrupt practices.”

Dissatisfied with the decision of CEDSB, the duo appealed to the ECB on October 1 stating that it was unfair for the complainants to pay fine for violating provisions of the electoral laws, rules and regulations while two witnesses who urged them to lodge the complaint were only issued a warning.

One complainant said that a group of nine villagers approached them on the eve of primary round poll day and told them that DNT candidate Namgay Tshering and party worker Thinley Wangdi have been offering drinks and gifts to the people for votes. They filed a complaint to the CEDSB on September 17 accusing Thinley Wangchuk, a taxi driver and Namgay Tshering for donating religious items worth Nu 200,000 at the Drakar Tsen Neykhang in Wanakha and creating an unhealthy trend of corrupt practices during the election period.

Both CEDSB and ECB stated that the complainants and witnessed failed to provide solid evidences and facts to substantiate their complaints.

Rinzin Wangchuk