The latest development – the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Office of the Attorney General, two Constitutional offices, coming to an understanding that the ultimate goal or mandate is to prevent corruption and punish those corrupt, is a welcome development.
The two institutions will strive to ensure better partnership and collaboration on prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption cases in the country. This can be done only if the two institutions discuss, agree and believe that the mandate overshadows all the differences. There would be some ruing the late decisions. It should have been done years ago, but like we say it is better late than never.
Both the ACC and OAG are independent Constitutional offices, but asserting independence only will not serve the purpose of existence. That the ACC could investigate and prosecute – cases dismissed by the OAG – had been a point of disagreement even separating the two houses of Parliament on the provision of the ACC Act.
The anti-graft body has won cases and put people to task after taking up cases the state prosecutor dismissed, making many believe that the OAG had failed and others who believe that the ACC is too vindictive. This sends strong messages if not wrong messages among the public. The ACC could investigate further and try to prove that there were wrong doings. Courts or the OAG do not have resources or the time to take up a case the ACC forwarded. When ACC wins a case dropped or dismissed by the OAG, it sends the wrong message and affects the credibility of the state prosecutor.
However, with the two important institutions coming to an understanding, it will only improve our justice system. Corruption cannot be tolerated in a small country where the average Bhutanese are convinced that nothing can be done without connection, power or manipulation.
The decision will also give litigants the time and assurance that there is fair trial based on evidence. OAG will not merely drop a case for the lack of evidence or ACC will not take it up because they are empowered by the ACC Act. If there are reasons to be further investigated, it should be done. Going forward, this is what is going to happen. The two important institutions will communicate, coordinate and cooperate in fulfilling their mandates. The beneficiary will be the people who are caught between the ACC and OAG’s difference.
The so-called MoU signed this week is a landmark decision, many say. And many others believe that better coordination and cooperation among institutions could result in better service delivery, justice, and many more. Lack of coordination, communication and collaboration has been the impediment in our progress. Ironically it has been identified years ago with the 12th Plan even highlighting what is called the 3Cs.
Protecting the turf will not help anybody. When it comes to investigation and prosecution, it involves the lives and livelihood of the people. Good days are here to come. Hope all will be well with two important Constitutional institutions shedding their differences and coming to an important understanding.