RCSC seeing increased number of appeal cases from civil servants

Report: The Constitution mandates the Royal Civil Service Commission to establish an administrative tribunal to receive appeals against the administrative decision of the commission.

But even with increasing number of grievances from civil servants, the Commission had not been able to establish a tribunal. Without it, the Commission is overwhelmed with appeals from civil servants, requiring diversion of time and capacity of the legal services in the commission.

Article 26, section 6 of the Constitution states the Commission shall ensure that all civil servants shall have recourse to justice through the Administrative Tribunal established under section 16 of Article 21 to hear their appeals against administrative decisions including those of the Commission.

RCSC officials were not available for comments.

However, it was learnt that one of the reasons for the delay on a tribunal establishment was that the former Commission had sought clarification on its establishment as Article 21, section 2 of the Constitution involved the Judiciary in establishment of a tribunal.

Article 21, section 2 states that the judicial authority of Bhutan shall be vested in the Royal Courts of Justice comprising the Supreme Court, the High Court, the dzongkhag courts and tribunals as may be established from time to time by the Druk Gyalpo on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission.

The Annual Report 2015 states that the commission has been receiving increasing number of appeals regarding recruitment into civil service and administrative actions taken by agencies.

“In making such appeals, the agencies and civil servants are exhausting their legal rights as per the provisions in the Constitution, the Civil Service Act of Bhutan and the BCSR,” the report stated.

Last year, a deputy chief administrative officer of labour ministry appealed to RCSC after the National Land Commission compulsorily retired him from the civil service.

After a thorough review, the RCSC found his claims invalid and supported NLC’s decision. But the administrative officer took the case to Thimphu district court. The district court passed a judgment reversing NLC and RCSC’s decision.

While the case is currently with the Supreme Court, the Commission is waiting for the verdict because it is expected to set precedence in the civil service for disciplinary action.

The Commission also received an appeal from an Anti-Corruption Commission legal officer after she was compulsorily retired from the civil service for her non-performance and sharing confidential documents with unauthorised people.

Following a review, ACC’s allegations were found true and the legal officer was found to have breached several provision of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan, 2010.

In another incident, a legal officer of Election Commission of Bhutan appealed the commission to include him as a civil servant. Since he had rejected the commission’s initial appointment as a legal officer for Samdrup Jongkhar thromde, he was not re-appointed into civil service.

The number of appeals is expected to increase in the future.

Additionally, between 2014-2015, various civil service agencies demoted and terminated 14 civil servants for them being prosecuted in Court.  Records with RCSC also show that agencies took administrative action against another 22 civil servants including the three government secretaries.

Nirmala Pokhrel