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The former Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd’s (RICBL) executive director, Sonam Dorji, asked the Thimphu dzongkhag court’s civil bench to rule his relieving order from the company as illegal and order it to follow the Anti-Corruption Commission’s recommendations.

“Otherwise, RICBL should compensate me for the remaining years until I turn 60,” the former executive, Sonam Dorji, said.

Sonam Dorji’s lawyer, Karma Lhuntse said that as per the service rules 2016, the plaintiff should have been informed of the charges in written and given 15 days to submit his justifications before taking any decision. “This was not done,” the lawyer said.

He said that the alleged charges against his client took place before 2016 but the RICBL board had applied the Service Rules and Regulations 2016 retrospectively, which was not legit as the service rules 2009 was in effect then.

Karma Lhuntse also submitted that his client should be compensated for the mental stress he was put under after the RICBL board, through its press release, made him appear guilty of the alleged offences.

Sonam Dorji said that as per the service rule 2016, a disciplinary committee should have been established, an investigation done and the report submitted to the board. “The committee was formed after we were relieved,” he said. “The past performance of the employee, among other factors, should be taken into account before taking a decision in such disciplinary cases.”

The plaintiff said that the ACC’s recommendations left it up to the board whether to terminate or reinstate him.

RICBL’s legal head, Phub Dorji, said that the decision was taken collectively.

He said that the service rules were mainly for disciplinary actions unearthed by the internal units. “Such rules would not apply to this case as it was investigated by the ACC.”

He also said that while the criminal charges were handed over to the Office of the Attorney General, the administrative lapses were given to the board with the recommendations to take administrative actions.

Phub Dorji said that the plaintiff’s reference to the two service rules is confusing.

“On one hand, the party is referring to the 2016 rule to claim that he has been relieved illegally while he says the 2009 rule should apply for the administrative lapses,” he said. According to the 2009 rule, the alleged offences are minor lapses and do not merit termination.

Phub Dorji argued that the former ED Sonam Dorji does not have locus standi to file a case against the corporation since he missed the 10-day appeal period after the board announced its decision.

Karma Lhuntse claimed that his client got the relieving order on January 26, which the RICBL lawyer claimed was issued on January 22. “We have submitted an objection letter to the chairman of the board on February 1 which is within the 10 day appeal period.”

However, he said that this point was irrelevant to the case. “The service rule does not have jurisdiction outside the organisation,” he said.

Sonam Dorji took the RICBL’s board to court on February 9 for unlawfully sending him on retirement and not following due process.

The plaintiff maintained that he was unaware of the charges against him and that he had not accepted them or the penalties in the form of the board’s decision to relieve him.

The RICBL lawyer will rebut on April 2.

Tshering Palden

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