OAG charges eight in land grabbing case

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged a Thimphu dzongkhag’s revenue clerk, and seven others including the former Chang Gup Naku and the incumbent Gup, Kanjur for alleged encroachment and illegal regularisation of state land yesterday at the Thimphu dzongkhag court.

The revenue clerk, Mindu Dorji, is charged for alleged fraudulent measurement of 63.12 decimal of land between Soridrag and Kashingbagor, in Babesa, Thimphu.

OAG’s prosecutor Kinley Tshering alleged that Mindu Dorji bought a 10 decimal plot registered at Pashingang Jabchogzama from Kuenga Choden, who is from Barp Gochung, Thimphu.

However, during the sathram compilation survey in 2000,  Mindu Dorji claiming that it was the 10 decimal land bought from Kuenga Choden fraudulently measured 63.12 decimal of land in another place and registered it in his wife’s name, Pemo.

Mindu Dorji is charged under the Land Act 1979 for illegal registration of state land and fraudulent measurement of the land. He is liable for prison terms ranging from three months to six years.

Mindu Dorji also allegedly forged documents stating that the 10 decimal land is between Soridrag and Kashingbagor, and next to Tandin Zangmo and Aum Namgay Wangmo’s lands.

The seven individuals including the former and the current gup signed on the document testifying that the land Mindu Dorji bought from Kuenga Choden was at the site, which was actually state land.

Mindu Dorji and the seven individuals are charged for forgery under the Thrimzhung Chenmo section Na 1 and 2 and are liable for imprisonment between three months to six years.

Attorney Kinley Tshering submitted to the court that the defendant must forfeit and restitute the land.

On July 28, 2000, the Council of Ministers instructed the home ministry to regularise excess land falling within the extended Thimphu City Corporation (TCC) area in compliance with the 58th National Assembly resolution of 1983.

The ministry was required to complete survey and necessary regularisation before transferring the records to TCC. The Department of Survey and Land Records (DSLR) had surveyed and executed changes.

Accordingly, Mindu Dorji’s wife Pemo had deposited the excess land fee for the 53.12 decimal on government rate of Nu 20 per sq ft amounting to Nu 462,956, while the land registered in her original thram was only 10 decimals.

Attorney Kinley Tshering asked the court that Mindu Dorji, who represented his wife, should pay Nu 549,901 for the 63.12 decimal plot. As the defendant had paid Nu 462,956 to the government, the defendant now has to pay Nu 86,945.4.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) discovered the alleged crime sometime between 2012 and 2015 when it was investigating another encroachment and illegal regularisation of state land involving a former assistant survey officer in TCC.

The investigation found that sometime in 2005, Chazam Rinpoche has purchased a plot measuring 63.12 decimals from Pemo, wife of Mindu Dorji, a revenue clerk at Thimphu dzongkhag administration for Nu 3.945 million. It was during the period when the thram record for the municipal area was being handled by the TCC after it was handed over by the DSLR.

The case was about suspected bribery and illegal registration of 46.88 decimals of government land at Tshalumaphey, Semtokha in the name of Chagzampa Drubthop Rinpoche or Chagzam Rinpoche. The investigation was based on the Royal Audit Authority’s referral, which was followed by similar letters from the National Land Commission secretariat, and the TCC requesting the ACC to investigate the matter.

Tshering Palden

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