In a dramatic twist in the Gyelpozhing land case, the Prime Minister and the ministers concerned, who have been reiterating time and again that they have been dragged into this case, have unanimously decided to voluntarily return the land allotted in their names or in the names of their immediate relatives in Gyelpozhing town to the government.
This, according to the cabinet’s press release, is a show of appreciation and support for the work of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The press release comes months after the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) maintained there is no legal basis to pursue the matter through the court of law after having had scrutinized the ACC’s report.
While the ACC maintained that land allotment in Gyelpozhing was illegal, the OAG then concluded that no laws were violated, albeit recommending some administrative action against the chairman and the members of the land allotment committee.
And now the cabinet has reasoned that it wasn’t practicable and appropriate to take administrative action on a matter that had taken place a decade earlier under a different system, also calmly justifying that many of the committee members were no longer in public service. It was stated further that the focus of the current government is to prevent corruption during its own term and in the future.
But there is more to the cabinet’s press release than what meets the eye. For now, it only coerces people to ridicule and make a mockery out of it.
While moral responsibility has been taken, there are also questions surfacing pertaining to the timeliness of such a move. Why some ministers wanted to return land now when it could have been done a year back?
Many people feel the issue was not about the land, but about the process, whether it was rightly done. Whether people in the higher echelons were serious about abiding by the rule of the law, or whether there were different laws for different people.
Some bickered that if no rules were violated in the Gyelpozhing case and if there were no elements of corruption in the way the land was acquired, the ministers are entitled to and thus must keep the land. They say it isn’t about a gesture of good will.
While the ministers’ resolution has received much appreciation, some are in oblivion why the ministers wanted to do it now as the ACC is yet to make an ultimatum whether it would go along with the OAG’s recommendations or take up prosecution on their own.
Some can’t help asking whether it was the guilty conscience that the ministers now wanted to surrender the land. They say the ministers should allow the laws take care of the case.
Far from abating the case, the cabinet’s move for now has only created more doubts and suspicion.