Thinley Namgay

Thimphu police arrested the three defendants involved in the Trongsa land case after the High Court (HC) upheld Trongsa dzongkhag court’s judgment yesterday.

Former Trongsa dzongdag Lhab Dorji was sentenced to five years in prison, his wife Karma Tshetrim Dolma and former Dragteng Gup Tenzin were sentenced to six years in prison.

The defendants were given non-compoundable sentencing, where they will not be allowed to pay thrimthue in lieu of prison term.

A former drangpon Ugyen Tenzin, former Nubi gup Phuntsho and former land surveyor Narayan Dangal were sentenced to 18 months in prison but they could pay thrimthue.

The defendants appealed to the HC on December 6 last year after Trongsa dzongkhag court convicted them for an illegal land acquisition case in Trongsa.

Lhab Dorji was convicted for forgery, official misconduct, and execution of the document by deception.

Karma Tshetrim Dolma and the gup Tenzin were sentenced for fabricating sale deeds, submitting false reports to the courts for transfer of land ownership and for deceptive practices.

Gup Phuntsho was sentenced for forgery and Narayan Dangal for aiding and abetting and official misconduct. Ugyen Tenzin was sentenced for forgery.

Lhab Dorji and his wife  appealed to the HC reasoning that ACC lacks locus standi to prosecute them, for denying them a fair trial and claimed they are not guilty of any charges. The appellants also demanded the prosecutor to compensate Nu 306 million with 15 percent interest per annum for ruins caused to their property, “View Point Resort” in Trongsa.

Former drangpon Ugyen Tenzin appealed stating that he was not the drangpon at the time when the land case occurred and that he was with the HC at that time.

Narayan Dangal appealed that he did not submit any false report and was not the beneficiary of any offence in this case.

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.

The ACC has requested the Trongsa dzongkhag court to restitute the 4.70 acres of land under Nubi gewog, where the wife of former dzongdag Lhab Dorji has constructed a resort. The ACC has frozen the land since April 3, 2015.

The commission also requested the court to declare the land transaction between the landowner Gyalmo and Karma Tshetrim Dolma null and void.

Edited by Tashi Dema