The subject matter of investigation was on irregularization of State Land : ACC

Rinzin Wangchuk 

Family members of the Shengana Bjemi gup, who is the Punakha Dzongkhag Tshogdu thrizin, alleged that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has falsely implicated and tainted his image in connection with an alleged State land encroachment case.

The anti-graft agency has accused Shengana Bjemi Gup Samten Phuntsho of allegedly misusing his power to encroach 80 decimals of State land and registering it in his wife’s name in 2011.

The alleged State land in question, according to Dawa Norbu, brother of Gup’s wife Passang Wangmo, was already resolved by the Land Dispute Settlement Committee (LDSC) of National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) in 2017.

“My sister and brother-in-law had followed due process to re-survey the omitted land from their grandfather’s thram,” Dawa Norbu said. “We also gave our frank and true statement to the ACC about this.”

One of the complainants from Tsosa village petitioned to the NLCS on May 11, 2016 stating that the incumbent gup allegedly surveyed the state land during the National Cadastral Resurvey programme (NCRP) in 2010-2011. Then the LDSC reviewed the allegation regarding the plot BJM-2912 as one of the six allegations.

In response to the allegations, the decision of the LDSC’s 48th meeting  held on July 13, 2017 conveyed to the complainant with copies to ACC, Punakha dzongdag, Punakha drangpon and Shengana gup on July 28 that all the surveys were done according to the guidelines and the plots as provided in the separate list was regularized accordingly.

As per the order issued by the NLCS,  the committee dismissed allegations stating that the complainant should have raised this issue during the time of surveying the land in question.

ACC officials, however, said during the investigation, NLCS as requested by the ACC provided the copy of the list but the particular 80 decimals wetland BJM-2912 under thram No. 152 was not found in the list.  “NLCS also mentioned that the same land was regularized during the NCRP survey in  2011, the irregularity of which surrounds, it is the subject matter of ACC investigation,” an ACC official said.

Dawa Norbu also said that if the land was sold to another individual as the ACC pointed out, then there should be a remark written on the thram or should have been deleted from the thram.

While conducting the investigation of alleged misuse of power by Shengana Bjemi gup, ACC looked into two parts of the allegation: origin and transfer history of the alleged plot; and encroachment on State land during NCRP 2011 in Punakha.

ACC reviewed the chagzhag thrams, legitimate land ownership certificates, collected from NLCS to determine the history of the alleged 80 decimals wetland plot BJM-2912 called ‘Kuchey Parkha Damlekna’ which is registered in thram No. 152 under the name of Passang Wamgmo.

The earliest available records showed that the plot was initially registered in Shar Thinley’s name under his old thram No. 161. At the same time, another plot with similar name but different plot size of 41 decimals, ‘Kuchey Parkha Shamkharlog Damzhing’ was registered in the name of Dorji Pelmo in thram No. 80.

In her statement to the ACC, Dorji Pemo said that the plot Kuchey Parkha Shamkharlog Damzhing was given to her by her maternal uncle 30 years ago.

Regarding the second part of the allegation, ACC discovered that the alleged plot was not surveyed during the detailed survey of 1991 and new Sa-Thram Compilation (NSC) survey in 2000. In the 1991 detailed survey, the land was remarked as ‘jomey’ (no owner) and also it was not shown in the 1991 cadastral map.

Even during the NSC survey in 2000, the plot was not surveyed and remarked as ‘sa cha mey’ (no land) in the NSC Kappa. The NSC surveyor and land record assistant stated that the reason for the remark in NSC Kappa was due to the inability of the land owner/representative to identify the plot on ground during the survey.

Since the plot could not be identified on ground, it was not reflected in any of the maps prior to NCRP in 2011. ACC also found that an application submitted by Shar Thinley to NLCS on July 8, 2000 requesting the alleged plot to be removed from his thram as it could not be found.

However, ACC’s investigation revealed that the incumbent gup on behalf of his wife had submitted an application on February 27, 2011 requesting the surveyor to survey the 80 decimal wetland plot which is in their thram but was not included in the map.

In its investigation report forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on June 30 for prosecution, ACC recommended the state prosecutor to charge Gup Samten Phuntsho of official misconduct for knowingly endorsing the application and showing a State land as their omitted land. His wife, two former sai tshogpa and a surveyor accused of encroaching State land.

The ACC began investigation in 2019 after the commission received a complaint against the  gup alleging that he had surveyed and registered State land in his wife’s name on the pretext of surveying an omitted land reflected in her chagzhag thram.


Edited By Tshering Palden