Preliminary hearing for alleged Tongsa land scam heldSurjaman Thapa, Trongsa
Apr 21 2017
The preliminary hearing for an alleged illegal land transaction case in Trongsa involving former Trongsa Dzongda Lhab Dorji and his wife, and eight other individuals was held yesterday at the Trongsa District Court.
The Anti-corruption Commission registered the case with the court in February this year after the Office of the Attorney General dismissed it saying the case did not merit criminal proceedings.
Former Trongsa Dzongda Lhab Dorji and his wife Karma Tshetim Dolma are the prime accused. ACC have charged them with forgery, execution of documents by deception, official misconduct, and offence related to witness.
The other accused individuals are the then Trongsa Drangpon Ugyen Tenzin and former Draagteng Gup Tenzin who are accused of forgery, while the former land surveyor Narayan Dangle is being accused of official misconduct. He is also being charged for abetting the alleged crime.
The rest- former Nubi Gups Tashi Penden and Phuntsho, and Wangchukla and Kinleyla, the then Tshogpas of Nubi gewog, and National Land Commission’s Surveyor Kezang Nima- are accused of official misconduct.
The case concerns an alleged illegal transaction of private land measuring 2.77 acres in total in Taktse where parts of the College of Culture and Language Studies stand today. It is reported to have taken place more than a decade ago. But the case came under ACC’s scanner only in 2011 after the landowner Gyalmo from Taktse lodged a complaint to the ACC stating that she did not sell the land to Karma Tshetim Dolma.
ACC, upon investigation, found out that Karma Tshetim Dolma had colluded with the then former Draagteng Gup Tenzin and former Nubi Tshogpa late Rinchen to register the land in her name. ACC says by then the land, originally belonging to Gyalmo, has already been taken over by the Education Ministry for the construction of College of Language and Cultural Studies.
ACC added both former Dzongda Lhab Dorji and former Draagteng Gup Tenzin knew the land has already been acquired by the government. In fact, the two were said to be members of a committee formed to acquire the land.
The ACC told the court that Karma Tshetim Dolma registered the land in her name with a sole intent to obtain a substitute land in Thumang, Nubi. At the preliminary hearing yesterday, the ACC told the court that Karma Tshetim Dolma should be made to surrender a land measuring more than four acres in Thumang in Nubi to the government, which ACC says was acquired as substitute land fraudulently by the accused.
Karma Tshetim Dolma has built a resort on the land in question in Thumang, which is located above the road at Viewpoint. The ACC said she should also be asked to remove the structure at her own cost. The ACC further asked the court to nullify other related land transactions and make Karma Tshetim Dolma to compensate the former landowner Gyalmo from Taktse.
The accused will submit their rebuttal statement on the 1st of June. The preliminary hearing for the case was supposed to take place last Thursday. However, it was deferred to yesterday, April 20, after some of the defendants failed to report to the court.
Meanwhile, during the two hour hearing, Trongsa Drangpon said section 128(3) of the ACC act gives the commission the authority to prosecute the case. The Drangpon’s remark comes amidst media reports on the Office of the Attorney General questioning the legality of ACC prosecuting the case.