The people of the gewog took exception to the detention of their gup by the district court

Trongsa: Aggrieved with the district court detaining their gup Lham Dorji last month, the people of Langthel gewog in Trongsa last week filed a petition with the Supreme Court, seeking protection of local leaders, and to take the drangpon to court.

On February 12, the district court detained the gup for 24 hours, after he failed to report as a witness for a monetary case that he had earlier handled.  He was detained for contempt of court.

Lham Dorji claimed that he was detained despite reporting to the court by afternoon that day.

Following the gup’s detention, people of Langthel, their five tshogpas (village representative), mangmi and gup wrote the petition to the Supreme Court.

According to Lham Dorji, the petition is a result of extensive discussions in the gewog tshogde (GT).

“The petition was written, after people asked if they should cower to such public humiliations, even though the gup had done nothing wrong,” Lham Dorji said,

Baling tshogpa, Namgye said, the tshogpas had to take up the matter in the GT, following pressure from the people. “They say the detention has humiliated the people of Langthel, that too for a petty issue,” he said.

Langthel mangmi, Rinzin Wangchuk, said the people would have accepted it, had the gup been involved in a criminal activity.  But what’s unacceptable for them was that he was detained, while trying to resolve a case for judiciary.

“That he was detained for failing to report to court as a witness has caused a fear among other local leaders,” Rinzin Wangchuk said.

Under existing alternative dispute resolution policy, local leaders play a vital role in resolving numerous civil cases in the villages.  Save for criminal or divorce cases, other cases are resolved by the tshogpa, mangmi and gup.

“The detention of the gup, however, is causing a sense of insecurity among local leaders, while trying to resolve civil cases,” Rinzin Wangchuk said.

The petition also seeks support for all local leaders across the country. “We’d like to seek reinforced support from the judiciary, that such instances will be the last of its kind,” he said.

The mangmi, however, clarified that the petition must not be misconstrued as local leaders refusing to take up alternative dispute resolution.

“It isn’t that we’re not going to stop resolving cases, but what we’re asking is an assurance of protection from the judiciary for local leaders during such times,” Rinzin Wangchuk said.

The gewog, local leaders said, was also planning to file a case against the drangpon. “We’ll also take the drangpon to court,” Lham Dorji said.

By Tempa Wangdi, Langthel