Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has directed the Office of Attorney General (OAG) to render full support and cooperation to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Trongsa land transaction case involving the former Trongsa dzongdag Lhab Dorji.

The executive directive was issued to the OAG after Attorney General (AG) challenged the commission for prosecuting the Trongsa land case at the dzongkhag court stating it was unconstitutional in the media recently.

This was revealed during the Friday meet the PM session yesterday.

Lyonchoen said that he had written to the AG to refrain from criticising and challenging the ACC, which is exercising its authority empowered by the ACC Act. “As a government’s legal advisor and legal representative, I have directed the AG to support and cooperate with the commission.”

The executive order was issued on May 10.

Lyonchoen said that if the laws need to be amended and judicial interpretation is needed then AG should do it when there is no case.

He said that the ACC taking up the case provides good check and balance between the prosecuting and investigating agency.

When ACC took the alleged illegal Trongsa land transaction case, which was initially dropped by the OAG, AG questioned the legal standing of the ACC to prosecute the case.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, ACC officials had said hat the commission is taking up the case as per section 128 (3) of the ACC Act, which gives them the authority to prosecute a case. The ACC also claimed that they took up the case because the OAG manipulated it.

However, OAG prosecutors said that section 128 of the ACC Act is unconstitutional and that it is only the OAG that has the authority to prosecute cases.

AG Shera Lhundup then said he respects the ACC’s zeal to file the case, as it is a healthy sign since democratic institutional arrangements are made to provide necessary checks and balances.

He said that as much as the OAG determines to drop an ACC case report based on its merits, ACC is empowered to pursue its own due process if there is a prima facie case of fact manipulation as the ACC believes. “But for ACC to invoke Section 128(3) of ACC Act for locus standi to file suits against suspects, it is mandatory to first convince the court of the fact of alleged manipulations done by the OAG.”

He had said ACC could not malign a statutory institution like the OAG merely on their perceived view. “They must prove before the court,” he said.

The court conducted the preliminary hearing on the alleged illegal land transaction case on April 20.

The next hearing will be held on June 1. The 10 defendants will submit their rebuttal statements.

Rinzin Wangchuk