Defendant moves HC to dismiss appeal

Court: The pool vehicle misuse case against the former foreign minister in the High Court has completed hearings with his rebuttal yesterday.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) representatives said that they have nothing further to submit.
Of the initial two charges, the prosecutors decided not to appeal on the other charge of abuse of function related to the Lhakhang Karpo Conservation project.
The High Court Bench I will now review the submissions made to date including those to the Haa district court and seek clarifications should there be any.
The OAG representatives had moved the court to interpret whether the dzongkhag pool vehicle the defendant used could qualify as pressing and emergency personal need.
The former minister had admitted in the district court to using the dzongkhag administration DCM truck to transport his timber from Haa to Pamtsho, Thimphu 10 times.
The prosecutors had charged the former minister of embezzlement of public property based on the finance ministry’s circular of January 2000, which allowed a civil servant to use government vehicles under pressing and emergency personal needs.
According to them, the common man would not qualify transporting timber as a pressing need.
The Haa court dismissed the charge. It asked the former dzongdag to restitute Nu 4,166 to the government for not producing fuel receipts for two trips.
The prosecutors however said that the defendant should restitute Nu 111,640 for the misuse of pool vehicles and transportation cost. It includes Nu 1,000 fine for unauthorised travel beyond duty station and three times the mileage at the prevailing government rates, Nu 14.
The former minister’s attorney, Ugyen Dorji, said that his client was content with the judgment the Haa district court issued.
Rebutting against the OAG’s appeal to the High Court yesterday, the defence attorney said that it was more important to understand the finance ministry’s objective of issuing the circular than the literal definition of the terms such as ‘pressing and emergency personal need.’
“The objective was to allow civil servants to avail of the facilities with certain charges and thus my client did not violate any rule,” Ugyen Dorji said.
He said for his client to come to Thimphu to seek approval from the secretary each time would not be feasible.
He said all required documents were submitted to the Haa district court, and submitted that after examining them, the appeal be dismissed.
By Tshering Palden

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