Dechen Dolkar 

The National Assembly (NA) accepted the National Council (NC)’s recommendation on repealing a section 31 of the Civil Service Reform Bill of Bhutan 2022.

The National Assembly re-deliberated the recommendations of NC’s Legislative Committee on November 30. The House adopted all five recommendations from the National Council on the Civil Service Reform Bill with all voting in favour of the Bill.

NA Good Governance Committee chairperson Tenzin presented the five recommendations made by the National Council on the Civil Service Reform Bill of Bhutan 2022 along with the Committee’s decision to accept all the recommendations.

Section 31 of the Bill states that the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) shall compound petty offences in accordance with the compounding rules.

The National Assembly amended that the OAG shall compound petty offences in accordance with the compounding rules endorsed by Lhengye Zhungtshog, last week. However, the National Council repealed section 31 of the Bill.

The section allows the OAG to initiate legal procedures against petty offenders without dragging them to court.

The petty offenders are those individuals who get a prison term of three years and below.

The House remove the section which gives authority for OAG to compound petty offenders. 

The Legislative Committee of the National Council and some members mentioned that section 31 is not related to the civil service reform initiative and is completely different.

The members raised that in future it could create many problems including the overhauling of the entire legal system in the country. The members also mentioned that the section will instead provide room for political corruption and will have an adverse impact on fixing accountability.

Tenzin, the MP from Khatoed-Laya, said that they have accepted the recommendations from the National Council after a lengthy discussion with officials of the OAG and judges of the Supreme Court.

He said that during the discussion they mentioned that they have no issues with repealing the section. However, if it happens to encounter petty offenders issues, the parliament can amend sections 71 and 73 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004.

Section 71 of the Penal Code states that except for the recidivist or habitual offenders, the Court may compound any other offence not otherwise prohibited by the Penal Code.

Section 73 states that in making the determination of whether to compound or pay Thrimthue for the offence or not, the Court shall consider: the severity of the charges; defendant’s past criminal record; the potential threat posed to society; and defendant’s age and physical or mental health condition.

He said that since it is an urgent Bill, and not required to go through the joint committee and considering the importance of the Bill, the committee has accepted the NC’s recommendations.

The Bill will be submitted to His Majesty The King for Royal Assent.