Rinzin Wangchuk 

The Supreme Court (SC) last month dismissed an appeal made by the daughter of a 91-year-old man in Dewathang, Samdrupjongkhar, which has left her father landless and homeless. 

The daughter, acting as his representative, argued before the Chief Justice that the Commercial Bench of Thimphu’s dzongkhag court had unjustly ordered the seizure of her father’s life-saving properties without adhering to due legal processes.

The case revolves around her brother, who, in his early 70s, availed  a loan of Nu 25 million from the Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL) between 2012 and 2013. The loan was secured by mortgaging 346 decimal of dry land, 501 decimal of an orange orchard, and a two-storey building at Dewathang.

The daughter accuses her brother of availing the loan without their father’s knowledge and consent. She also alleges that neither the borrower nor the lender sought the necessary “No Objection Certificate” from her younger brother and the family members who had dedicated their lives to caring for their father. 

To advocate for justice, she submitted 18 points for review and testimony to the SC.

However, on May 16, the Chief Justice issued an order dismissing the appeal, citing the final and binding nature of the trial court’s judgment from March 11, 2019, which rendered further review unnecessary. The SC also highlighted that the aggrieved party had failed to challenge the ruling of the lower court by means of an appeal.

Under the trial court’s judgment, the borrower was granted three months to repay the loan, failing which the mortgaged properties would be seized and auctioned by the bank. The properties were seized on November 28, 2019.

“The court’s decision, along with the actions of the bank and the borrower, inflicted an abrupt and severe blow upon an uneducated senior citizen who was 87 years old at the time,” lamented the daughter, the only daughter among five siblings.

The daughter maintains that her father and the family members supporting him have been unjustly denied their fundamental right to a livelihood, resulting from a web of deceit, fraud, and collusion between the lender and borrower. She also claimed that the justice system did not give them a chance to submit their stand. 

 A loan default notice 

The family members were oblivious to the illicit mortgage of their father’s property until the borrower’s wife informed them of the loan default in April 2017. They made numerous visits to the BDBL office, seeking clarity on the loan processing and its purpose. The bank withheld all documents related to the loan, which had been obtained without their consent, she claimed.

“While we requested information about the loan from the bank, the lender and the borrower advanced their court case without notifying or involving the mortgagor or the property owner,” the daughter said. She added that the court failed to contact her father to verify his consent for the property mortgage—a critical procedure according to financial norms, which necessitates the involvement of the property owner or guarantor in the loan process, endowing them with equal rights and liabilities as the principal borrower.

The daughter insists that her father was kept in the dark regarding the loan processing and approval. According to her account, “All he remembers is that my brother made him sign a document written in English, right by the side of the road and on the bonnet of a car. Afterwards, he was never involved, informed, or consulted at any stage of the process.”

Desperate for a solution, the family members turned to the Governor of the Royal Monetary Authority, hoping for intervention to safeguard their properties. However, their plea was denied on the grounds that the matter had been resolved through the court process.

In a startling allegation, the daughter accuses her brother of deceiving and plundering their father in collusion with his wife. She further asserts that a legal officer representing a real estate developer acted on behalf of the borrower and her father during the court proceedings. 

“Since the legal officer did not possess a power of attorney, how could he represent my father before the court?” she asked. “We don’t even know him and we haven’t met him.”

Meanwhile, the daughter remains resolute in her pursuit of justice, hoping to salvage her father’s property and bring an end, according to her, to the torment inflicted upon their family. 

Both father and daughter appealed to the Anti-Corruption Commission on different occasions to investigate how the loan was sanctioned.