Choki Wangmo

A common issue in the past, related to constitutional post holders and its members, was the early retirement age, especially when they were at the peak of their career.

This was because members, commissioners and heads of constitutional offices had to resign from their post and cannot be reappointed. The National Council (NC)  yesterday proposed to increase the minimum service years for the members and commissioners to 25 from 20 and the heads of the constitutional offices to 30 from 25 years.

The NC was discussing the Entitlement and Service Conditions Amendment Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices 2020.

This according to the Chairperson of the NC’s Good Governance Committee, Lhatu would give opportunity to capable members, commissioners and heads of constitutional offices to use their full potential before the age of resignation. As of now, the minimum service limit of 20 and 25 years forced the members and commissioners to resign before reaching the age of superannuation, hence wastage of human skills.

However, member of Punakha, Lhaki Dolma, said that the number of years should be not be changed to make the selection of candidates more open and convenient according to the requirements of a member or a commissioner. “Increasing the minimum service years would make the selection process more complicated,” she said adding that it would be difficult to find candidates.

Some members also suggested the possibility to include nominees from private sector besides government and public sectors for the posts to diversify candidates. However, Zhemgang’s member, Pema Dakpa, said that appointing individuals from private sector would defy the whole purpose of apolitical nature of the nomination. “Candidates are selected from among public servants because they are apolitical.”

Private individuals, according to Pema Dakpa would be politically inclined.

The House directed the committee to re-visit the section and finalise the amendment for final adoption.

Another amendment was on Section 4, which demands the resignation of the person appointed as the holder of a constitutional office with post service benefits.

However, members of the House sought clear definition of the constitutional post holders because according to Article 31 (2) of the Constitution, holders of constitutional offices are the Chief Justice and the Drangpons of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice and the Drangpons of the High Court, the Chief Election Commissioner, the Auditor General, and the Chairpersons of the Royal Civil Service Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Eminent Member Karma Tshering said that the clause created confusion whether Drangpons of the Supreme and High courts were eligible to post service benefits during resignation because they had different entitlements according to the respective Acts.

Member of the committee, Nima said that the clause did not include the drangpons. The committee was told to review the section.

The committee also recommended addition of 10 new sections in the bill—submission of list of names, code of professional conduct, nomination panel, procedure of nomination panel and time-bound secretariat among others.

The chairperson of the  committee, Lhatu, said that the bill was amended considering the significance of constitutional offices and the holders, members and commissioners thereof.