Staff reporter 

The government removed Attorney General (AG) Lungten Dubgyur from office with immediate effect.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, which announced the decision yesterday, the decision is arrived at based on the findings and recommendations of the independent committee constituted in keeping with Section 94 of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) Act.

The committee, formed on August 23, determined the involvement of the AG in a drug-related case and subsequent reversal of judgement at High Court Bench I, and recommended his removal from office to Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday.

As per the OAG Act 2015, “The removal shall be only upon finding by a committee constituted for the purpose of determining permanent incapacity or incapability of carrying out his or her duties or breach of code of conduct, substantially prejudicing the interest of the Office.”

Lyonchhen said that institutions like the OAG are the bodies that serve as pillars of justice, entrusted to safeguard the rule of law and uphold the rights of the citizens. “Any compromise on integrity undermines the noble purpose and therefore, leaves no room for consideration.”

“I sincerely pray that this step, though unfortunate, will remind all of us to maintain highest professionalism, and reestablish our commitment to transparency and accountability while in service of the nation,” he said.

On August 11 this year, the Supreme Court announced the suspension of two high court justices, Justice Pema Rinzin and Justice Tshering Dorji from Bench I for deliberate miscarriage of justice in a drug possession case involving two defendants.

The Supreme Court’s press release, specifying one of the defendants, the son of a Kuensel Dzongkha Editor, indicated collusion among the AG, the Editor and the presiding Justice.

Thimphu dzongkhag court in 2019 convicted both defendants to five years of imprisonment after finding them guilty in a drug possession case. The defendants appealed to the High Court. The case was assigned to Bench I.

During the case’s consideration at the High Court, the Editor, AG Lungten Dubgyur, and Drangpon Pema Rinzin had gone on an overnight trek to Phajoding when the case was sub judice.

“Soon after this trek, Bench I issued a judgment that completely overturned the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court’s decision. The new judgment argued that the defendants’ positive urine test warranted compulsory treatment in a rehabilitation center for a period of 3 to 6 months, rather than a 5-year prison sentence,” the Supreme Court press release stated.

The OAG did not appeal against the judgment.

The case, according to the Supreme Court, was reviewed after the grievance cell received complaints alleging collusion among the Editor, the AG and the Justice in the case.

Based on the findings of a three-member committee comprising officials from the Supreme Court and the High Court on the legitimacy of the complaints, the Supreme Court directed the High Court to re-examine the case.

A Special Bench at the High Court reviewed the case and concluded that Bench I had indeed resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice. The Special Bench reversed the original judgment, reaffirming the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court’s decision.