MB Subba

The Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) yesterday clarified that Section 196 of the election Act is null and void.

In the earlier story published on November 24, Kuensel had cited Section 196 which states that the Election Commission shall, not later than 90 days, before the date of expiration of duration of a Local Government (LG), announce the date on which the Commission shall issue the notification calling the election and setting the process of election in motion so as to ensure that each LG is reconstituted on the date of expiration of the duration of the existing LG.

However, a Writ of Mandamus issued by the Supreme Court on August 5, 2016 declaring the section null and void as it contradicts Article 24 (5) of the Constitution and Section 202 of the Election Act.

Article 24 (5) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2008 states that Parliament shall, by law, ensure that the Election Commission holds elections so that the National Assembly and Local Governments are re-constituted within ninety days after its dissolution.

Further, Section 202 of the Election Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2008 states, “The Election Commission shall, by notification under section 201, announce the date before which any election to the National Assembly, or a Local Government shall be completed to ensure that the National Assembly or Local Government is reconstituted within ninety days after its dissolution.”

The second thromde elections were held on January 25, 2016. The term of thromde tshogde members including thrompons is counted from the first sitting of the tshogde, according to the local government Act. 

The four dzongkhag thromdes are Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar whose Thrompons are Kinlay Dorjee, Utar Kumar Rai, Tikaram Kafley and Karma Sherab Thobgyal, respectively.

Confusions about whether dzongkhag thromdes should report to the works and human settlement ministry or the home ministry exist. Currently, the dzongkhag thromde reports to the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement although local governments fall under the home ministry.

According to the department of local governance, however, it has proposed amendments in the local government Act to streamline such issues. As per the proposed amendments, thromdes will report to the home ministry while they continue to receive technical support from the works and human settlement ministry.