Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The two gup contestants of Dumtey Gewog, Samtse, who filed a complaint against their competitor, the gewog’s former gup Damber Singh Rai, are not satisfied with the decision by the Central Election Dispute Settlement Body (CEDSB) of the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB).

The CEDSB warned and penalised the former gup, who is contesting in the upcoming local government (LG) Elections.

This is in line with the complaint the contestants filed to the returning officer of Dophuchen-Tading demkhong on November 20.

The investigation and findings by the Dzongkhag Election Dispute Settlement Body (DEDSB) of Samtse were submitted to the CEDSB.

The complaint made four allegations: voucher recharge to the public, purchasing a cell phone as a gift to one individual, sealing and signing of documents by backdating for loan processing and marriage certificate, and granting permission to organise a khuru and volleyball event during the pandemic and LG election period.

As per the report submitted to the CEDSB by the DEDSB, it was found that Damber Singh Rai had recharged talk time vouchers to six voters. Bank statement details confirmed it. The voucher recipients also agreed that the former gup had requested their support in the upcoming elections.

However, the report said some of the recipients were the former gup’s relatives.

The case includes gift-giving, which violates Section 518 (a) of the Election Act of Bhutan 2008.

The CEDSB issued a warning and imposed a penalty of Nu 7,500 as per section 29.1.2 of the Election Dispute Settlement Rules and Regulations of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2018.

On the contestant buying a mobile phone worth Nu 9,000, the investigation found out that the recipient was his nephew.

The recipient had borrowed cash from the former gup. The cash was borrowed in July 2021 and Nu 8,000 was returned.

The allegation was “without basis,” it was found.

Allegations of backdating and signing a loan and marriage certificate were also found to be baseless.

The investigation team also did not find strong evidence supporting the allegations of organising khuru and volleyball tournaments.

All three gup contestants were present during the tournament.

“We think he should be disqualified,” said Beeyash Rai, who is one of the contestants.

Edited by Tshering  Palden