Legal committee reviews thromde laws

A special committee of legal experts has been tasked to review and harmonies the conflicting laws related to thromde, according to works and human settlement minsiter Dorji Choden.

At the National Assembly’s question-answer session yesterday, Drametse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi asked the minister about the implementation of the Supreme Court Writ on thromde elections last year.

“The Supreme Court in its Writ of the declaration of 16 dzongkhag thromdes and yenlag thromdes being unconstitutional and illegal, directed the government to review the whole issue through the institution of a high-level experts committee,” he said. “Can the minister provide an update on the status of the review works?”

The minister said the Supreme Court deferred the election during the preparatory stage of holding the thromde election. The reason for judicial intervention, she said, was the existence of contradictory provisions of Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) Act and Local Government (LG) Act with the constitutional provisions.

“Also the difference in understanding and interpretation of laws, constituency confusion on the election of thromde tshogde members, dzongkhag thromde representation to dzongkhag tshogdu, the term of members, and required size of population or number of eligible voters in the constituency, contributed in deferring the election,” she said.

The minister said since the Writ was issued to the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB), it is the appropriate agency to institute the high-level legal expert committee.

“The review works as per the direction of the Supreme Court will be carried out by the ECB as and when appropriate and the ministry has no authority over ECB,” she said. “Thromde plans and development works are ongoing.”

The minister said that the declaration of 16 dzongkhag thromdes and 20 yenlag thromdes was constitutional and legal.

She said the Writ never spells out the illegality or unconstitutionality of thromde boundaries being declared by the Parliament. All the thromde-related problems raised from election perspective and not from boundary declaration, she said. “The court didn’t point out any procedural lapses followed by the Parliament in declaring thromde boundaries. We respect the Supreme Court’s order.”

The process of establishing dzongkhag thromdes was in compliance with the Article 22 section 2 of the Constitution, she said, adding that fixation of thromde boundaries was the responsibility of the government as per the section 5 of the Local Government Amendment Act 2014. “We did it together with local government and through public consultation.”

It was endorsed by the Parliament as required by the Article 22 section 2, the establishment of thromdes were tabled during fifth and the sixth session of the second Parliament.

Subsequently, 15 dzongkhag thromdes and 18 dzongkha yenlag thromdes were endorsed by the Parliament during the sixth session. Endorsement of all the thrombus, achieved with the consensus of the three-fourths majority of the members of the Parliament as per Article 1 section 4 of the Constitution.

Once the thromdes are declared, for thromde to be part of the local government as enshrined in Article 22 section 2 of the Constitution, the election has to be conducted.

“This is the responsibility of the ECB by virtue of the Constitution’s Article 24 section 1,” minister said.

Accordingly, ECB is responsible for delimitation of constituencies as per the Article 24 section 4 to conduct the election. ECB is a constitutional body and the government has no authority over it.

Staff Reporter

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