Nima Wangdi 

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in its rebuttal submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday that all the appellants are guilty of charges framed against them.

ACC’s 45-page submission stated that the lower courts convicted them based on relevant facts and evidence that proved beyond reasonable doubt that the appellants were guilty of the charges. It stated that the others involved in the case and convicted by the lower courts deciding not to appeal before the SC also shows the existence of a criminal case.

Substantiating the four counts of forgery, three counts of official misconduct, and a charge on the execution of documents by deception against appellant Lhab Dorji, ACC submitted that he was guilty of all the charges.

ACC has framed nine counts of criminal charges which include four counts of forgery, four counts of criminal solicitation and one count of an offence related to witness against Lhab Dorji’s wife, Karma Tshetim Dolma (KTD).

Former Drakteng gup, Tenzin is charged with eight counts of criminal charges. It includes five counts of forgery and three counts of deceptive practices. There are two counts of criminal charges, which include one count of aiding and abetting and one count of official misconduct against appellant Narayan Dangal, the then only surveyor in Trongsa.

ACC submitted to the court that Lhab Dorji and his wife committed the offences as they saw avenues of self-benefits. “Lhab Dorji has committed these offences to help his wife at the capacity of the dzongdag.”

ACC lawyers submitted that Lhab Dorji has also improperly instructed the Nubi Gup to identify land replacement from Nubi gewog without requesting to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Forestry Services as required by the Guideline for Land Acquisition and Satshab Allotment 2005.

According to ACC, KTD knowingly has fabricated the sale deed of the lands in collusion with Gup Tenzin.

ACC also submitted that Narayan Dangal and former Gup Tenzin had also submitted to the court earlier saying that they should not be liable for the charges, as they have not been benefitted from it. It is not necessary that the person should be benefitted to be convicted for the crimes.”

ACC said that the High Court has not accepted the forensic report that the appellants had submitted. This is because section 110.4 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code prohibits the Parties to introduce fresh evidence on appeal or relying on evidence not introduced during proceedings in the lower Court.

“The SC may consider not admitting it based on foregoing reason,” ACC submitted.

ACC submitted that the credibility of the forensic examination report submitted is questionable and objectionable. They said they would like to draw the attention of Justices on the impugned forensic report, which contains the Dzongkha alphabet and vowels. “It is not possible for that supposed forensic expert to use/type Dzongkha Unicode without formal education or training in Dzongkha literature and Dzongkha Unicode.”

“It can only be deduced that the content of the forensic report is dictated or tutored by the appellant and their defence councils. Further, under section 22 of the Evidence Act of Bhutan 2005, the expert report can only be admissible only if the expert, who wrote the report gives an oral deposition in the proceedings,” ACC submitted that the court may consider summoning the expert for the oral examination,”

ACC said the former Gup Tenzin has also forged a thumb impression against another man, which the forensic test has proven and also he had confessed. Narayan Dangal was accused to have not conducted field survey and reports.

Having given the opportunity to clarify the accusations by the ACC, Lhab Dorji’s lawyer said, if the ACC doubts the forensic tests of the renowned forensic agencies, they should book for the confirmation test. “ACC is a big agency and should be able to do that. Both the parties should be ready for the brunt.”

Lawyers said, even when it comes to Narayan Dangal, the letter from the National Land Commission to the court clearly stated that there was a survey report and the map attached.

It was the final argument and was supposed to be held on January 26 but was postponed due to the lockdown. Two of the three justices, one male and a female conducted the hearing as the third justice was said to be unwell.