Staff Reporter 

Bhutan Power Corporation has terminated the contract of its director, Sandeep Rai, who was convicted of sexually harassing a support staff by the Thimphu dzongkhag court on August 2.

The contract termination comes into effect on the day the court issued the judgment.

Thimphu Dzongkhag Court on August 2 convicted and sentenced the director  to eight months in prison. He can pay thrimthue of Nu 30,000 in lieu of the imprisonment term within 10 days from the day the judgment was issued. The court also ordered Sandeep Rai, 43, to pay Nu 45,000 as compensation to the victim within 10 days.

The director was on a three-year contract with the company and his term was going to end in October this year.

BPC Chief Executive Officer Sonam Tobjey said that the decision was taken during the board meeting held on August 9.

“The court has convicted the director so the board decided to terminate the contract,” he said.

When asked if he would be given benefits, the CEO said that would depend on the contract provisions and the company’s service rules.

The director was convicted of a petty misdemeanour.

Meanwhile, some BPC employees were disgruntled that the human resource department of the company continued to pay the director 50 percent of the contract allowance until March 2022 on top of the 50 percent basic salary that he was given as subsistence allowance.

The director was paid Nu 48,982 for January 2022, and Nu 38,438 every month for the next 6 months until July while he was on suspension.

The director earned a gross monthly salary of Nu 149,822 before he was suspended in September 2021.

The BPC service rules entitled an employee on suspension to 50 percent of basic salary as subsistence allowance.

The CEO said that his office order on the suspension of the director was clear and the payment should have been as per the service rules. “The problem was the HR employees misunderstood and continued to pay 50 percent of the contract allowance as well.”

He said that he asked the department head to stop the payment of the contract allowance when he found out about it. “It has to be recovered and we have communicated it to the person.”

The director was also paid the subsistence allowance until July 2022. He was suspended on September 24, 2021. The service rule state that the internal committee has to decide whether to retain or terminate the employment of the employee involved in the case within three months.

BPC a few years ago suspended its accountant in Paro who was involved in an embezzlement case, which is a major breach of the code of conduct in the BPC service rule, while the case was investigated, forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission and then to the court.

“We also paid her subsistence allowance beyond six months like in the present case,” Sonam Tobjey said. “We’ve to go by the rules.”

The CEO said that since an outside agency was involved in the sexual harassment case, the board of the company as per the service rules decided to pay the director the subsistence allowance for more than three months.