Preliminary investigation on Trongsa land case completes

ACC released two from detention and interrogated two drangpons, including a former judge

Land: The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has completed its preliminary investigation on the fraudulent transaction of 4.37 acres of land in Newlee-tse, where the Raven Crown resort stands, and another 2.28 acres in Drakten gewog, Trongsa.

The land belongs to Karma Tshetim Dolma, a former school principal.

The ACC also detained a land record officer from the National Land Commission and a former survey field staff in connection with the regularisation of 1.93 acres of excess land at Newlee-tse, which is popularly known as Thomidrag, during the cadastral resurvey programme in July 2013.

ACC officials said they detained a land record officer on April 3 after he refused to comply with the interrogating team.  The commission had also issued a freeze notice against any land transaction on the same day.

The land record officer was released on April 10.  They suspected him of being involved in the regularisation of excess land.

The ACC also interrogated a former survey field staff, who was believed to have surveyed the excess land in 2010.   He was detained on April 7 and released on April 13.

ACC officials, however, refused to share details, saying that they were still gathering some more documents.

Sources said that the ACC also reportedly interrogated a serving drangpon and a former drangpon, who superannuated recently, for legalising the land’s thram transfer in 2005.  It was alleged that the then drangpon of Trongsa issued an order to legalise the transfer of land, belonging to two sisters in Tashidingkha village, to Karma Tshetim Dolma’s thram.  The drangpon had earlier rejected the thram transfer twice, as there was no authorisation letter from the party who sold the land.

Sources also alleged that the superannuated drangpon, who was serving as the registrar general at the high court, forged his wife’s authorisation letter and reportedly sent it to Trongsa court for regularisation of land registration.

Before the land act was amended in 2007, all land transactions and transfer of thrams had to be done through courts.  The court asked for documents, such as a no objection certificate from the gup, a copy of the sa-thram or land registration from the dzongkhag land record office, and an authorisation letter from the landowner, who wants to sell.

Based on these documents, the court issues an order to legalise the land transfer, and sends a copy to the land commission for it to transfer the land.

Kuensel learnt that the two sisters’ dry land, measuring 1.10 acres and 1.08 acres respectively in Tashidingkha, were actually acquired by the Institute of Language and Cultural Studies (ILCS) at Taktse in 2003.  They were reportedly compensated by the dzongkhag administration and provided five acres land substitute in Gelephu after their thrams were transferred to ILCS.

Sources said that non-existence of land in the sisters’ names was alleged to have been reflected as sold to Karma Tshetim Dolma in 2005.

It’s alleged that this was done in collusion with the former Drakteng gup, who is alleged to have forwarded the forged documents to the dzongkhag for transfer of thram.  It’s alleged that the gup had forged the required documents for the land transfer.

After transferring the thram through the court, the dzongkhag administration is alleged to have provided the land substitute from the present site, where the resort was built.

The two sisters were among 33 households, who lost their land to ILCS.  Some were compensated, while others were given land replacement in other areas.  The issue cropped up after another landowner, who lost more than two acres of land to ILCS, came to know that her land was registered instead in the name of Karma Tshetim Dolma.

The 38-year-old woman was paid Nu 45,000 as compensation for the land she lost.  She said that she came to know about the fraudulent practice only when the cadastral survey team re-surveyed her remaining land.

She then filed a case against Karma Tshetim Dolma at the Trongsa district court, saying that she hadn’t transacted any land with her.  However, the court dismissed her case.

In an earlier interview, Karma Tshetim Dolma claimed that land transactions were done legally through court proceedings, and that she had legal documents as evidence.

 

By Rinzin Wangchuk

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