Yangchen C Rinzin
Owner Lhab Dorji and his wife Karma Tshetrim Dolma appealed to the High Court to order Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to keep the “View Point Resort” in Trongsa and compensate for ruins and opportunity lost the appellants have had to face.
During the preliminary hearing on Friday, representing the appellants, its representative lawyer argued that the freeze notice issued by the ACC in 2015 in connection to the Trongsa land case brought ruin to the whole resort which was beyond repair.
In the statement to the High Court, the appellant appealed that the respondents (ACC) must compensate Nu 306M with the addition of 15 percent interest.
“The resort was supposed to be sold to Tangsibji Hydro Energy Limited for Nu 306M before the emergence of this case,” the appellant Karma Tshertim submitted. “However, just a week before finalising sale deed, the freeze notice was issued and the resort was closed.”
They also appealed that the ACC should be held liable for payments of loan interest and interest outstanding on the principal availed to construct resort, including insurance premium.
The total outstanding loan is Nu 292,487,837M and outstanding insurance premium of Nu 2,884,389.85.
Lhab Dorji and his wife including four other people involved in the case had appealed to High Court after Trongsa Dzongkhag Court convicted them and sentenced in connection to an illegal land acquisition case in Trongsa.
The appeal was submitted to High Court on December 6 last year.
The Trongsa Dzongkhag court on November 14, 2019 convicted Lhab Dorji and was given a concurrent sentence of five years for four counts of forgery, three counts of official misconduct, and execution of the document by deception.
Karma Tshetrim Dolma and the former Drakteng Gup Tenzin were given a concurrent sentence of six years for fabricating sale deeds, submitting false reports to the courts for transfer of land ownership, and for deceptive practices.
The court also sentenced former Nubi Gup Phuntsho for forgery to a year and six months and former surveyor, Narayan Dangal, for aiding and abetting and for official misconduct. Retired drangpon, Ugyen Tenzin, was sentenced to a year and six months in prison for forgery.
Appeals made by Lhab Dorji and Karma Tshetrim
The lawyer submitted the appeal to High Court on four grounds against the Trongsa Dzongkhag Court’s verdict.
It was submitted that ACC lacked locus standi to prosecute the appellants stating that if ACC is allowed to investigate and prosecute at the same time, the ACC would turn vindictive.
“The Trongsa Dzongkhag Court not having considered locus standi, we would submit that the court judgment should be set aside,” the appeal letter read.
On the second grounds, the appellants submitted that the court denied them fair trial accusing that the ACC staff, including the Commissioner, had visited Trongsa court before the case was registered, which could have put pressure on the judges.
The appellants have also appealed to High Court that they are not guilty of any charges and that regularisation of excess land of 1.933 acres is lawful.
Lhab Dorji appealed the charges against official misconduct and execution of the document by deception.
Former drangpon Ugyen Tenzin has appealed that he was not the drangpon at the time when the case was on-going in 2011 and that he was at that time with high court.
Another appellant, Narayan, appealed that he did not submit any false report and was not the beneficiary of any offence in this case.
Two gups appealed to High Court to drop the Trongsa Court judgement against them.
The case first surfaced in 2011 after a landowner, Gyalmo, complained to the ACC that she did not sell her land to Karma Tshetrim Dolma.