DNT urges DPT to file constitutional case against government

Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) will urge the opposition party, Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT), to file a constitutional writ against the government as the Thimphu High Court ruled out that DNT has no legal standing to file a constitutional writ as it is not a party that is directly harmed.

This was disclosed during the DNT’s press conference yesterday, where party spokesperson Dr. Tandin Dorji said that they respected the court’s ruling that DNT has no legal standing as it is not directly harmed, affected or suffered an actual injury.

But he said the loss of revenue for the nation is a loss to all Bhutanese and has affected all of us.

“Nevertheless we acknowledge the absence in our legal system of filling public litigation cases and despite our best efforts to convince on our legal standing, we respect the ruling by the court of placing the responsibility on filing constitution writ on the opposition,” Dr. Tandin Dorji said.

According to DNT’s spokesperson, the opposition has also stated that the provision of fiscal incentives in 2016 is a violation of the constitution and it is therefore the responsibility of the opposition now to decide whether to file a case to clarify on the constitutionality of providing incentives.

Dr. Tandin Dorji said having thus ruled, it is apparent that the government has no legal justification for violating the constitution. “The dismissal of the case is based entirely on the legal standing of DNT and whether, as a party outside the parliament, can file for a constitutional writ,” he said.

The court, in its wisdom and for the future of democracy, has ruled that only the opposition party has the responsibility, he added.

“We respect the decision and urge that the opposition party will take this case forward and bring it to its logical conclusion,” Dr Tandin Dorji said.

DNT also maintained that the dismissal by the court of the government’s argument of the matter being sub-judice has clarified that the government has no authority whatsoever to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court and that only His Majesty the King can command for such an abstract judicial review.

The party also acknowledged that they are grateful to the High Court for giving DNT the opportunity to submit petition on the violation of the constitution by the government and for the fair legal processes accorded to them.

Dr. Tandin Dorji said, “While the High Court has not passed judgment on the constitutional violation per se, we thank the court for ruling that any past fiscal incentives or schemes or schemes should be subject to review, if necessary, by the succeeding government and subsequently ratified by the Parliament through amendment or by way of introducing a new Money Bill on those past fiscal incentives.”

However, he said the government’s failure to follow this in passing its fiscal incentives policy is clearly not in accordance with the law, adding that they will not appeal the case again.

Meanwhile, the High Court dismissed the DNT’s constitutional writ filed against the government on fiscal incentive on Thursday. The court ruled out that the party has no legal standing to sue as it is not a party who is directly harmed.

According to the judgment, as per Civil and Criminal Procedure Code, only a person or class of individuals, whose rights are directly affected or suffered an actual injury, has the legal standing to sue.

Meanwhile, the case was registered before the court in August this year.

However, talking to Business Bhutan, Opposition Leader Dr. Pema Gyamtsho said that they will study the case and the verdict before deciding whether to take the case further or not.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu