The probe found that failure to appear as a witness led to the official’s incarceration

Investigation: Mediation and conciliation of monetary case in Langthel gewog in Trongsa is not the root cause why its gup, Lham Dorji, was detained by the district court on February 12, according to a Supreme Court investigation.

The investigation was conducted on March 8-9 by its drangpons.

“Based on inquiries with lender Jas Maya Moktan, borrower Tshering Dorji of Chukha Construction and authorising individuals, the gewog never even had a chance to resolve the case through alternative dispute resolution (ADR),” the investigation report stated.

Earlier, Lham Dorji claimed to have been detained by the district court, after he failed to report to the court with a written statement of a witness to the monetary case, which originated from Langthel gewog.  His detention led the dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) to pass a resolution to cease ADR in chiwogs and gewogs by local leaders, fearing a similar fate of being locked up.

The DT also proposed a review of the local government rules and regulations, which states that tshogpa, mangmi and gup should mediate and conciliate civil cases in the villages.

But upon investigation by the Supreme Court, it has been found that the gup’s detention had nothing to do with the ADR.

The investigation stated that, according to the verbal and written statement from Jas Maya Moktan, who filed the case against Tshering Dorji, the ADR could have never resolved the case, as the parties to the case never came to the gewog office to settle the case.

“So if parties never assembled in the gewog, no negotiations were done in the gewog either,” the report stated.

The statement, signed by Jas Maya Moktan, also refuted the gewog’s claims of trying to resolve the case through ADR, because the lender never showed up.  The investigation report clarified that the gup was detained for failing to report to the court of law as a witness to the case.

“Since the gup was called in the capacity of a witness, he can neither send the statement through someone, nor fail to report in person to the court of law,” a Supreme Court justice said, adding that even a written statement can never be delivered just like a parcel.

“The gup was detained for failing to report to the court of law without prior authorised leave from the court of law,” the judge said, adding that a statement to the court of law as witness cannot be sent through somebody’s hands either.

DT chairperson, Tashi Pendhen, however, said that the DT’s resolution once passed could not be altered.

“Indiscriminate of whether ADR has any relevance with Langthel gup’s detention, we still would stand by the resolution to change the clause in the local government rules and regulations,” Tashi Pendhen said.

Moreover, Langthel gup’s detention is not the reason why DT decided to pass the resolution to review the local government rules.

“The reason local leaders are pushing for review and change in the clause of local government rules is because of risks local leaders are exposed to while resolving civil cases through ADR in the villages,” Tashi Pendhen said.

The chairperson said, though, that it was up to the Parliament to review, just like in dzongkhags, gewogs still would pursue for a legal officer each to resolve such cases in villages.

By Tempa Wangdi, Trongsa