Published On: Fri, Mar 8th, 2013

Speaker and Home Minister may not be eligible for 2013 race

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With both the Speaker Jigme Tshultim and Home Minister Lyonpo Minjur Dorji convicted under criminal charges by the Mongar district court the two candidates may not be allowed to contest in the 2013 race.

This is because both the Constitution and the Election Act debars anyone who has been convicted for any criminal offence and is sentenced.

The Mongar Court Judge in a telephone interview confirmed that both the Speaker and Home Minister had been convicted under criminal charges filed by the Anti Corruption Commission and accordingly sentenced for imprisonment. He added that the Prison term, is a bailable one.

The Home Minister, Minjur Dorji was charged for the offence of official misconduct while the Speaker has been booked for official misconduct, fraud, forgery, and deceptive practices.

The Constitution under Article 23 for Election lays out the clause for disqualification in section 4c which says, “A person shall be disqualified as a candidate or a member holding an elective office under this Constitution, if the person: Is convicted for any criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment;”

The final decision on disqualification is to be taken by the High Court and Supreme Court based on an election petition filed in line with the Election Act.

Article 23, section 5 says, “Any disqualification under section 4 of this Article shall be adjudicated by the High Court on an election petition filed pursuant to a law made by Parliament under section 7 of this Article.”

Section 7 in short refers to Election laws made  by the Parliament like the Election Act of Bhutan that governs the conducting of Elections in Bhutan and also the Election Commission of Bhutan.

The Election Act also lays out a disqualification criteria which may apply in the case of the Speaker and the Home Minister.

Here Section 179 (a) of the Election Act disqualifies candidates who ‘have been convicted for any criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment.’

However, some minor confusion has propped up due to Section 179 (g) which says, ‘a person shall be disqualified as a candidate or a member holding an elective office under the Constitution, if he/she: has been accused of felony in a pending case and the competent Court has taken cognizance and charges have been framed against him/her.’

The key word here is ‘felony ‘ which means a prison sentence of over three years for which there is no bail. If only this section were applied ignoring the above sections then the Speaker and Home Minister technically could claim that they were not charged for a felony and so can contest the elections.

A legal expert that The Bhutanese talked to said, “The constitution is the Supreme law and there it is clearly laid out that those convicted of criminal charges are disqualified. The key word in the constitution is ‘any’ criminal offence and so since the Speaker and Home Minister have been criminally charged and convicted they will not be allowed to participate.”

A sitting Judge that the paper talked to said that though various provisions were there the interpretation had to be made by the High Court.

Meanwhile PDP member and former Attorney General and Drangpon, Damcho Dorji said, “As per Section 179 of the Election Act, the Speaker and the Home Minister may not be able to contest for an elective office as they have been convicted for a criminal offence.”

He further said, “So until this conviction by the Mongar Dzongkhag Court is overruled or quashed totally without any sentence of imprisonment, they will stand convicted within the meaning of Section 179 of the Election Act not only for the 2013 election but for all elections in future. However, it is in the jurisdiction of the ECB to interpret this Section.”

Currently though charged criminally the Speaker and Home Minister come under the misdemeanor category which is bailable with a minimum sentence of a year and a maximum of less than three years.  However, this still means a criminal conviction.

An Election Officer explained that as per the Election Act all candidates as part of their registration process would have to bring in an affidavit from the courts saying that the candidate has not been criminally convicted or does not have an ongoing criminal case.

This affidavit would not be given in cases where people had been convicted for criminal cases. The ECB declined to officially comment  on the eligibility of the Speaker and the Home Minister.

In earlier interviews with the paper a senior ECB official had confirmed that the Speaker and Home Minister would not be allowed to contest if they are criminally convicted.

However, in 2009 the High Court set a precedent of disqualifying some Gups from participating in the Gup elections for some misdemeanor charges.

Puran Gurung / Thimphu

 

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Displaying 12 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Karma says:

    Forget about rerun, they should be sitting in Jail. The jail term handed over to them is too lenient.

  2. zopla says:

    This paper did all these to disqualify these two candidates from contesting next election and perhaps it is successful!!! Big Congratulation!!! This paper knew that case is not so sever (as confirmed through verdict that it is just misdemeanor )   but there were lapses which could at least disqualify these two candidates. And i am sure this paper must be celebrating!!! i won’t be surprised even if this paper closes down after this verdict or perhaps after election as their mission is almost accomplished!!!

    • Are you the relative or Supporter of This Two Corrupted Leaders. The Paper has brought light to the people of Bhutan How Corrupt Leader we have in our Country. This is high time that Those Rootten and Corrupted Leaders to throw out from their post. They will eat the country.

  3. LAKSAM says:

    This paper may cel;ebrate but it is not the end of these two candidates’ lives! They still have time and means to proof otherwise!

  4. GIVE NO HAPINESS GET NO HAPPINESS says:

    The accused civil servants would be terminated without benefitis as per rcsc, what about speaker n Home minister, looks like they will get it. 

  5. Sangay says:

    one can join Kharchu Dratshang and the other Dremitse…as novice monks to wahs their sins

  6. Drangnam says:

    Mr Gara, You are too short sighted and have not gone beyond the two Minister and god father is still at large and will take some more years to solve this issues. 

  7. benz says:

    Its so funny and alarming to see this news. Returning to the 2013 race??….arent they human beings…if yes they should have some guilty feeling and shamefulness in them. How can anybody think of returning with such a terror act …of course they are left unpunished with just few amount as compensation. The sufferers would be those CIVIL servants who wud be terminated without benifits. As for Jigme Tshultrim & Home Minister they already have enough accumulated (ofcourse through illegal means) in the past yrs of their service which his upcoming 5 to 6 generations can also enjoy without having to do anything on their own. I would suggest these two culprits be applied petrol on their bums and kicked mercilessly wearing army boots  at Thimphu Clock tower. Do anybody have any other suggestions…u r welcome

  8. LAKSAM says:

    Yes they can recontest in 2013 election, because their conviction is misdemeanour and not felony. So do not feel funny and alarmed!

  9. Demat says:

    I do feels sorry for the other committee members. Dzongkhags used to be run by the Dzongdas as if they wee Kings. Jigme Tshultim, Lhakpa Dorji (jack) and Pem L Dorji (Habu) , they are by nature big bullies with bloated egos. They literally ran the Dzongkhags as Hitlers. Lhakpa killed a monk and got away with it and Pem Dorji got away with Phobjika land scam. 
    Those committee members, I am sure didn’t  see the list of people until Dzongdas decided who would get the land. They were ordered to sign the document. 

  10. Drangnam says:

    Like Demat said  apart from above Dzongdas, There is Paro Dzongda behaving  like Hitler and bullying the Lama,Khenpo and Public.At one time he had clash with one of the staff and was trying to manhandle him.Lucky that he didnot raise his hand otherwise he would have got counter kick to his shamu/mole and eyees.  Instead of bullying , he should be concentrating on the land disputes , Cleaning up the mess and win the hearts of Paro. Otherwise, in democratic world, no body will tolerate the dictatorship and violation of constitutional rights.

  11. lane says:

    whether there may b the law that they can contest for next election but if i m in their position i can’t com again for contesting for showing corupted face and corrupted mind. i wil feel ashame of doing blunder of intention and gve the chance to other justice people. But two blunder may come 2 contest for doing another blunder of intention.  i advice not to contest again bcoz there r many capable people than them who can contest. we don’t regret for not having useless and corupted men instead we would b happy 2 hear that they r gone 4rm region of corruption.

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