Punakha dzongkhag court on June 26 sentenced a former Talo gup, Kinley, to three months in prison for false registry of workers made in 2016.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) made two charges against the former gup. The OAG submitted that he had embezzled the gewog’s fund of Nu 36,104 meant for rural drinking water supply of Talo and Laptsakha chiwog in Punakha, and charged that he created four ghost workers for the water supply construction.

The OAG charged that in 2016, although there was no work done, the gup allegedly recorded four workers on the muster roll who claimed Nu 36,104 from the funds. The former gup had also allegedly forged their signatures on the register.

The dzongkhag court dismissed the first charge of embezzlement and convicted the gup for the fake workers and their signatures in the register.

The former gup submitted to court that he had not embezzled the money but used for the benefit of five households in the community.

The gewog office had some leftover money after completing the construction of the water supply project. But it also had to construct a farm road for the five households for which there was no budget despite the works having to complete within the fiscal year.

The chiwog tshogpa reported the problem to the gup who decided to use the leftover money for the road construction.

“As a public servant we have to take certain risks and make certain decisions for the benefit of the community,” the gup submitted to the court.

The five households and the tshogpa testified in the court that the money had been used for their road construction. The gup also submitted copies of money receipts.

As the road cuts across a villager, Chogyal’s land, he was paid a compensation of Nu 18,000, of which the villagers jointly paid Nu 10,000 and the rest the gewog chipped in from the water supply leftover fund.

Another farmer also received compensation of Nu 6,500, and Nu 12,000 was paid to the tshogpa to maintain the water source. The rest of the money was used to buy stones for the road construction.

However, he could not remember who had signed on the register maintained for the construction of the water supply. The former gup admitted that he would have sometimes erred while serving the larger interests and needs of his community.

For this the court found him guilty of a petty misdeamenour and ordered three months in prison. The former gup is given an option to pay in lieu of his prison term as he did not have any previous criminal record.

Tshering Palden