I thought I was just facing a lot of confusion in the cadastral surveys. It seems there is a lot more that I’m facing.
My plot of land with transfer problems has been ‘passed on’ by every committee. They never say no but they never take any action either. They don’t want to take any decision as they see any decision as risky. And they don’t want to help either. My final act to save my land is to appeal to the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s office.
The Zimpon’s office told me to be patient as there are many cases and they will get to my case eventually. That was in September 2012.
Then in the first week of october, on a sunday, when government officials usually do not work, and when nobody was at the land, the Dungkhag Land Record Officer and the Satsab Committee members showed up and within the morning dished out my land to resettlers who were short of land after the cadastral survey!
No word to me or anybody else. When I called up the Dungkhag Land Record Office, the clerk called Jamtsho, he was furiously defensive over the decision. According to his logic, land is either government land or private land, nothing in between. Do you have a court verdict for your land to get a lagthram was his rhetorical question. He clearly knew I didn’t.
I explained that yes, because of my specific problems I didn’t have a verdict. However, as the case was genuine and that I had paid for the land and had all the court papers processed, but was stuck because of complications arising from the transfer ban. However, even if the authorities were not interested to help me solve my case, I did have a right to appeal to the King. And I have appealed and he should wait until at least the Zimpon’s office gave their decision.
He replied that if the Gyalpoi Zimpon wanted him to not take any action then he should have been informed. Since he was not informed then he had no reason to go ahead.
Now the decision has been taken by the committee and there is no going back, was his final stand. “Even the Zimpon cannot change our decision as the committee has decided. This is what I will tell him even if the Zimpon calls.”
Aggressively defensive. Is this what public service is all about? Is this the type of service we pay taxes for?
I said it is His Majesty’s prerogative to decide on land cases. By taking their action before His Majesty even has a chance to look at the case, they are denying the Royal Prerogative. Isn’t that wrong? He was silent, but reverted to his favourite position that ‘the decision has been made by the committee’. Are committees, faceless and nameless as they tend to be, above the law? They seem to be, the manner in which big decisions are made only by committees.
The other interesting point is that the NLC surveyor told me that if you land is less than is registered in the thram, you can get the amount that is less only if the neighbouring plots have excess and only if that excess is adjacent to your land.
So it is another question why these people, whose land lies in some other part of the geog, have been given my land as replacement?
I called up a lawyer to ask for some advice on what sort of action I could take. Could I put in a stay order from a court while the Gyalpoi Zimpon’s office investigated the case or was there something else I could do?
His reply was shocking and depressing and completely ridiculous. He said that the judiciary has decided, that the 2007 Land Act now no longer required a ‘court verdict’ to transact land. This has now been interpreted to mean that the judiciary should have absolutely no role in any land cases.
The courts now reject all land cases and the only way one can open a court case is by obtaining a ‘supporting letter’ from the National Land Commission confirming that the land is in dispute. In other words, the judiciary has put a bureaucrat between the people and justice. I thought NOTHING could come between the people and justice! It is the duty of a judge to assess the authenticity of a case and his right to throw out those that aren’t.
I will of course follow up and see if this is true. If it is, then it is very clear that democracy has come too early, with people making decisions of far reaching consequences of which they are blissfully unaware. Unaware also of the contradictions between what they are doing and some very fundamental principles of justice and democracy. Bhutan is quickly turning into a country of abject juridical confusion.
Tashi Commercial has a similar problem over their BOD land in Gelephu although it has not yet been dished out even though that case is almost 20 years older than mine!