Quite historical was the verdict of the Supreme Court then when it decided the fate of the country’s first constitutional case about three years back.
In the aftermath of the judgment – there were people talking, analyzing, and reflecting then. Did the government lose? Or did the opposition win? And what kind of precedent the judgment would set for the future course of democracy in Bhutan?
Not merely as the first constitutional case between the ruling and opposition party, but some saw the case in itself as a trial for the Supreme Court. At best, it was considered then as victory of the institution of democracy. Accountability must be upheld and the Supreme Court verdict had just done that – it ensured that the due process of law must be followed and that not even a majority government can get away with it.
While the opposition, now the ruling government, was resolute that tax revision breached the provisions of Public Finance Act and the Constitution, the previous government then maintained that it would develop a tax paying culture and bridge the rich-poor divide in the country. The two started to wrangle, like two opposing sides locking horns.
The case is long over now. However, the government, which towed the line of legality, abided and preached the holy book of the Constitution as the opposition then, is now being questioned about disregarding certain provisions of the Constitution.
Political party like Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) and other keen observers allege that the PDP government establishing a new centre to look after the Economic Stimulus Plan fund under the leadership of the Prime Minister is illegal, disregards certain provisions of the Constitution, Financial Services Act 2011, and oversteps the mandates of the central bank.
Another hovering question, among some, is whether the Constitution allows establishment of such centre. If the government of the day has not breached constitutional provisions, it should explain and elucidate rather than maintaining an aloof stand. The government has to explain if accountability is being demanded, and they should shoulder that responsibility.
And rather than, meanwhile, viewing it as a debauched attempt for political mileage, DNT’s concerns somehow also exemplify the true workings of a democracy, keeping a check and balance in the system. It sets a precedence which is pivotal in a democracy.