Defendant questions ACC’s power to investigate DeSuung case

Submitting his rebuttal to High Court on February 19, Lieutenant Ugyen Dorji said the RBA prosecutor should justify, which clause of the Army Act states that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) could investigate a case if the military court has convicted them.

Lt Ugyen Dorji who served as administrative officer for the 16th DeSuung training programme was convicted for embezzling Nu 487,000 out of Nu 2,496,246.

“Can the ACC form a board and investigate the case,” Ugyen Dorji said. “Army Act is a special Act, which empowers a special board of officers for the court of justice, the military court.”

He said there should be another two bodies as per the Act, a court of enquiry and an appellate body. But he said that for unknown reasons, he was denied the right to face these two bodies, which clearly indicate procedure lapses.

“Which article or clause in both the Army Act and ACC Act states that ACC is the military court of enquiry? Where does the ACC’s role come into play?”

He also appealed the RBA prosecutor to prove the exact amount he had embezzled. According to him, the RBA do not have evidence and all charges and allegations against him are based on assumptions, irrelevant facts and figures.

The prosecutor was also asked to prove the collusion between shopkeepers and administrative officer.

Lt Ugyen Dorji submitted a detail of the training expenses and claimed that the amount spent was Nu 2,496,246.

He said that this amount had to cover the expenses for dining facilities, which means Nu 71,321 was spent in a day only on food for 180 regular heads.

Of the 180 heads, 125 are DeSuups and the rests are administration staff, which includes supporters, cooks, NCO instructors, five DeSuup officials, drivers, and officer instructors.

“Sometimes, the number of diners would increase to almost 250 heads, especially during the opening and closing of the programme,” he said. “Everything is covered within the given budget.”

Ugyen Dorji also submitted that the daily expense per head comes to Nu 396. This amount covers three meals, provided with three different curries and tea, which is four times a day. The expense for cash soelra and restricted items were also met from the same budget.

The unutilised budget of Nu 45,700, he said, was returned to the state and also used to pay the two percent TDS tax.

“When I have managed to provide everything with the given budget, what was the basis for the prosecutor to accuse me of embezzlement,” he said. “You will have to prove how I embezzled the money.”

The prosecutor said that the expense for restricted items and cash soelras were adjusted with vegetables bill, which Lt Ugyen Dorji has also confessed in his statement to the ACC.

He added that Lt Ugyen Dorji’s case was based on Section 52 of the ACC Act 2011, which states that embezzlement of fund of security by a public servant for failing to produce accounts of those fund security upon demand by lawful government authorities is deemed to be misused.

In another case, defendant Peljab Tashi Phuntsho also denied of embezzling Nu 35,000 and submitted to court that he was interrogated by the ACC and had to confess to embezzling under duress. The RBA prosecutor submitted that this was not true.

“The last statement signed by Peljab Tashi Phuntsho reflects that he has confessed to embezzling Nu 35,000. The Nu 35,000 was given to Tashi Phuntsho to buy meat for an event, but when the event was cancelled, he had returned the meat to the shopkeeper and accepted that he misused the money.”

The High Court has asked the litigants to produce evidence in the evidence hearing on March 22.

Yangchen C Rinzin

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