Former Finance Minister involved in alleged encroachment of government land

The case pertains to a 10-decimal government land that the former finance minister allegedly converted into private ownership in 2001

Former Finance Minister Namgay Dorji is allegedly caught in a land grab case, with an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigation confirming that he had converted a 10-decimal government land in Taba, Thimphu into his personal ownership.

The ACC forwarded the case to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on March 1, 2019. The OAG is reviewing the case. 

An anonymous person had filed the complaint to ACC on November 20, 2017, following which the Commission had investigated the case to determine if the claim of encroachment into state land was genuine or otherwise.

The case concerns a 10-decimal land at Churagang, Taba, Kawang Gewog (Plot no. 164; new TA1 -183) registered in the name of Namgay Dorji (former finance minister).

The ACC investigation found that Plot number 164 was once recorded as government land and other time as “thramless”. The detailed survey map of 1988 showed that the plot 164 was adjacent to plot 166, which was initially a 20-decimal land which was bought by Namgay Dorji’s sister from Aum Bakhum. From this 20 decimal land, 7-decimal was said to have transferred to the elder sister of Namgay Dorji in 1993. However, no documents were found, rendering the transaction null.

During the 2000 NSC survey, the former minister measured the 7-decimal land in plot number 164 and moved the plot away from the mother plot (plot 166). This, the investigation found was encroachment into a state land.

In 2001, the former finance minister initiated the transfer of the land to his name. On 17 August 2001, the Thimphu Dzongkhag court vide judgment number ‘Thruencho ang (8668)’ transferred the land to Namgay Dorji’s name.

Namgay Dorji had also processed a No Objection Letter through the local government officials, stating that the 7-decimal land bearing Thram number 711 (old) and plot number 164 was an ancestral possession of his sister.

However, during the investigation, most of the village representatives who had signed the No Objection Letter stated that they did not see the document, let alone having it signed. Others asserted that they do not recollect putting their thumb impression on the letter and did not have any knowledge about the letter.

During the course of the investigation that stretched over six months, the ACC reviewed Thram history, kashos and executive orders, National Assembly resolutions, survey guidelines and land transaction documents in court orders and sale deeds. Also the officials of the National Land Commission Secretariat (NLCS) and Thimphu Thromde were consulted for expert views.

The ACC investigation had obtained sufficient evidence to build prima facie case of encroachment into a state land under section Ka 6.20 of the Land Act 1979 and deceptive practice under Na-2-of the Thrimzhung Chenmo.

The ACC has recommended the OAG to restitute the plot to the state.

Meanwhile, the ACC has frozen the plot owned by Namgay Dorji. The revised freeze notice was issued on 15 February 2019.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu