The former Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Limited (RICBL) executive director, Sonam Dorji, asked if the company could act on the direction of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) without fulfilling due process.

RICBL relieved Sonam Dorji on compulsory termination from service with retirement benefits as recommended by the ACC.

RICBL lawyer submitted to Thimphu dzongkhag court’s civil bench that the board of the company had gone through the findings of the commission’s six months investigation, cross-checked the charges, and choose to relieve him.

Sonam Dorji and his lawyer, Karma Lhuntshi challenged that the manner in which the company relieved him violated the company service rules and regulations. “That’s why it is illegal,” Karma Lhuntshi said in his submission on April 5.

While the court had not ruled him guilty of the charges, Karma Lhuntshi said that the company, through its press release, had portrayed him as guilty of the charges.

His main contention was that the company should have communicated the charges to his client, Sonam Dorji and given him 15 days to explain before deciding. “This was not done,” he said.

RICBL’s lawyer Phub Dorji’s argument was that Sonam Dorji does not have locus standi as he had not appealed within the 10-day appeal period after the relieving order was issued on January 21.

Sonam Dorji’s lawyer challenged that since the relieving order was illegal, the appeal deadline is not an issue.

Phub Dorji said that the charges that were sent to Office of the Attorney General are different from the administrative charges the ACC forwarded to the RICBL to take action.

Phub Dorji said the board approved the former executive director to retire with post-retirement benefits. “The company had to withhold the benefits as the ACC filed criminal charges against him with the Office of the Attorney General,” Phub Dorji said.

Tshering Palden