Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the High Court’s judgement on Zangdopelri land dispute in Samdrupjongkhar on September 20.

It also ordered the plaintiff and defendant to enforce the district court’s judgment on the case within three months.

Samdrupjongkhar thromde appealed to the SC after the High Court’s larger bench ordered them to compensate Nu 27,987,842.19 to the caretaker of the Zangdopelri in the heart of Samdrupjongkhar town, Thinley Dorji.

Thinley Dorji was the main coordinator during the Zangdopelri construction and had taken care of the properties.

The dispute started after the National Land Commission directed Thinley Dorji to surrender the Zangdopelri land to the thromde as the land did not belong to him.

He then filed a case against the thromde in 2015.

The court judgment ordered Thinley Dorji to surrender the land with the Zangdopelri and two double-storied buildings to the thromde administration.

The compensation was as per Thinley Dorji’s claims for the expenses incurred while constructing the Zangdopelri, two buildings, walls, a butter lamp house, and land tax.

Thinley Dorji had also appealed to the SC as he was also not satisfied with the judgement when the court ordered him to hand over the properties to the thromde because he had been taking care of it for so long.

Thromde’s legal officer, Tshering Chophel, said the thromde administration as a local authority was following due process of the law and wanted to verify the actual owner of the land.

He said the thromde never wanted the land or had any interest to own it. “We are also not the competent authority to pay the compensation. We are just following the order as an implementing agency.”

He said the Zangdopelri was built as per the special culture committee and the then Kidu lyonpo’s (home minister) order in the 1980s for public purposes and not to benefit a private individual or entity.

According to Tshering Chophel, the order also stated that the Zangdopelri will be handed over to the government after construction. “Thinley Dorji was asked to supervise the construction and there was nothing mentioned about giving him the land ownership. We don’t know why he didn’t hand over the Zangdopelri to the government.”