OAG has to get its basics right

The country is in oblivion, and for the right reasons, because it has been grappled with an issue that has been pricking the conscience of every Bhutanese citizen – the Gyelpozhing land issue.

The issue has presently taken an untoward turn with the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) fighting out in the High Court with the ACC having suspended the speaker and the home minister and the OAG challenging the legality of the suspension.

The conflict between the ACC and the OAG is a sign that the country still needs to consolidate our newly established democratic institutions in the absence of which differences between two institutions will continue to surface whenever the court is moved with a high profile case like Gyelpozhing.

In the current case, the difference between the two institutions has shifted the focus away from the main issue to a different dimension.

Critics also say that the OAG has unnecessarily involved itself in the case.

After the ACC investigation traced signs of major corruption in the Gyelpoizhing land case, it has done what it is supposed to do. In September this year, the OAG made its “opinion” public by posting on its website where it declared that there was no elements of corruption in the ways the land were allotted.

This public declaration was completely uncalled for because it confused many ordinary minds and led them to rather conclude that the ACC is wrong. The public declaration of its opinion which was in complete contrast to the ACC finding, in a way, also served like a verdict for the case. The OAG should have handled the issue in a better way.

Now that the ACC has moved the court in Mongar and following it suspended the speaker and the home minister, the OAG comes back to the scene again and challenges the ACC’s right to suspend the two important people.

To an ordinary mind, it may appear that the OAG is hell-bent on nullifying the Gyelpoizhing case.

Photo courtesy- Bhutan Observer

It is also clear that the ACC is not prosecuting the government in any way. It is prosecuting many people and two of them happened to be a minister and the speaker but the duo is not the government. Despite that, the OAG is vehemently arguing against the ACC’s right to suspend the two despite the 2011 ACC Act clearly giving it the right to do so.

Like the ACC put it, if the OAG is involved in the case in any way, it should actually be defending the ACC. If it chooses not to, it should at least not be siding with two senior politicians who are charged with criminal cases.

The OAG has to get its basics right and let the case run its course.

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