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They also blamed each other for contradicting provisions of the Constitution

Assembly: The National Assembly’s Question and Answer session yesterday was overshadowed by members blaming and accusing each other for going against the Constitution.

This happened when the members deliberated the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s (SC) writ on thromde and yenlag thromde elections.

The issue came up after South Thimphu MP Yeshey Zimba inquired whether the government accepts the SC writ on the thromde elections. “The SC writ clearly states that establishing 20 thromdes and 20 yenlag thromdes would be against the provisions of the Constitution,” he said.

Yeshey Zimba also said the government had been stating that SC had only asked to postpone thromde elections and it has, therefore, not contradicted the Constitution.

The works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden said that the Constitution specifies the need for thromde tshogdes. It also states that it’s the government’s responsibility to establish thromdes. “We have done in accordance to the procedure and law to establish local governments in accordance to the Constitution.”

Acknowledging that there were lots of inconveniences while implementing the Constitution, Lyonpo Dorji Choden said the government tried to resolve those inconveniences. “One example is on how some MPs resigned right after election. Law doesn’t specify whether a MP could resign or not. We deliberated on it and amended the laws.”

She said the SC writ does not say that the government was wrong in establishing thromdes but there are inconveniences. This required comprehensive review of relevant laws by legal experts that led to the deferment of the election.

“The government acknowledged the writ and we never went to court stating that the elections should be conducted,” Lyonpo Dorji Choden said.

Drametse Ngatsang MP Ugyen Wangdi read out the SC writ in the NA to reiterate that it stated thromde and yenlag thromde was against the Constitution.

He said the government pledged to establish 20 thromdes and 20-yenlag thromdes and asked when the government would establish the commission SC ordered.

Foreign minister Damcho Dorji said Ugyen Wangdi did not put the SC writ in context about why establishing thromdes and yenlag thromdes are against the Constitution.

He said the Local Government Act mandates there should be seven members of a thromde and that was against the Constitution. “The Local Government Act was passed in the former government’s tenure and there should not be any blame game.”

Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said he consulted with drangpons on the SC writ and they made the same interpretation.

He also said the former government established four thromdes and that was also against the Constitution. “Who will take accountability?”

Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho said if establishing the four thromdes were against the Constitution, they would have been dragged to court. “Is the government acknowledging the SC’s writ? What are the plans to provide amenities to thromdes?”

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk, instead of responding to the Opposition Leader’s query, said the government’s initiative to establish thromdes and yenlag thromdes was not against the Constitution.

“The government did not do anything that contradicted with the Constitution and against the law but if we understand it properly, it was the Local Government Act and it was the former government’s failure.”

He said this government did not make mistakes and if an investigation is done, it will reveal who committed the mistake.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo said everyone values the SC writ and the writ ordered to constitute a high-level commission comprising of experts. “Only after that we would know whether it was against the Constitution and law.”

He reminded the MPs to read the SC writ, the Constitution and media reports. “Everyone passed the resolution to establish thromdes and we should understand whether that was against the Constitution. We should also ask whether gewog tshogdus and dzongkhag tshogdus are also against the Constitution.”

Tashi Dema

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