Issue expected to submit to Commission meeting today

The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) is yet to deliberate and decide on the suspension of labour ministry’s director general (DG) Sherab Tenzin.

The Anti Corruption Commission, on August 26, sent a letter RCSC asking the Commission to suspend the director general. An official from the legal division said that RCSC has received such cases in the past from ACC and that due process is well established.

“Once the letter is received, the legal division reviews it and submits with their findings to the next earliest Commission meeting for deliberation and decision,” the official said. “The case is still under review.”

According to ACC, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged the DG on four counts of offences related to two different overseas employments in Japan and India at the Thimphu dzongkhag court on August 23.

ACC stated that its letter is in line with Section 168 of the ACC Act of Bhutan 2011. “As per Section 167(2) of the ACC Act 2011, the agency concerned is required to suspend the public servant charged,” the letter stated. “However, if it decides not to suspend, the commission should ensure that the DG does not use public resources including office time to appear before the court.”

The RCSC official said that irrespective of whether a civil servant is suspended or not, a civil servant charged in the court for any kind of charges cannot use public resources to appear before the court.

“This responsibility is decentralised to the respective agencies’ management.”

On the delay, the official said that the letter was received last week after which legal division has to follow the due process. “The issue will be submitted to the Commission where they meet every Tuesday.”

Chapter 19 of the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulation (BCSR) 2018 states that the authority to impose a penalty on a civil servant shall be exercised by the respective authority. Since the director general is in the executive position, as per the BCSR, only RCSC can investigate and take action on the DG and not the agency.

The Commission in April had completed its own investigation after it received the case from the labour ministry to take administrative action against the DG. However, the complete investigative report and administrative charges would be established only after the court verdict.

As provisioned in Section 45 (k) (under the rights of civil servant) of the Civil Service Act of Bhutan 2010, a civil servant shall not be removed, demoted, terminated or administratively penalized without due administrative process. The procedures for administrative actions are clearly stipulated in the BCSR.

For instance, the official said that in the case at hand, ACC has criminally charged DG for seeking financial assistance from placement contractor of department of employment and human resources violating civil service code of conduct and ethics.

“The ACC’s alleged administrative charge of violation of code of conduct and ethics can be established only if the court of law determines that DG has sought financial assistance,” the official said.

Last week, the Commission met for the entire day, but the letter might not have reached the office, said the official. However, with the Commission meeting scheduled today, it is expected to deliberate on the case today.

Meanwhile, the labour and human ministry would wait for the RCSC’s decision on the DG to take action against assistant programme officer Ugyen Tashi who is also charged for similar case with the DG related to overseas employment programme in Japan.

Yangchen C Rinzin