Friday, November 23, 2012

The Malformed Sentinel

The Anti Corruption Commission is a democratic institution whose fetus was formed and nourished in the womb of the cusp of monarchy and democracy. The paranoia surrounding the imminent arrival of the enfant terrible called democracy and the corruption that would ensue, called for the need to create an institution that would battle corruption and all wrong doings. The mighty child born just before the arrival of democracy was named Anti Corruption Commission. The all-powerful ACC was created as a fortification against corruption by the elected leaders of the as yet unborn democracy.

Unfortunately, the child was born with a severe deformity at birth. It was born with its eyes in the back of its head. Thus, the avatar of the Argos Panoptes now stands at the gate, ferociously guarding its rear but bat-blind in its frontward vision.

The ACC has been empowered with terrifying authority that surpasses those of the Head of State and those of the Head of Government as well as those of the Judiciary. In suspending the Speaker of the Parliament, a position that is at the apex of the democratic ladder, the ACC has demonstrated powers that no single institution should be empowered with.

I am not questioning the functioning of the ACC but the Act that empowers an oversight agency with such absolute administrative and judicial powers. I am not even questioning the right or the wrong of what the ACC has done. I am leaving that for the Courts to judge and decide.

There seems to be an urgent need to amend the ACC Act so that it is able to fulfill its primary function for the purpose for which it was created: to CONTROL corruption.

The history of cases so far handled by the ACC will reveal that it has completely deviated from its mandate. All that it has done so far is be embroiled in witch-hunting, giving us this uneasy feeling that the mighty ACC might be misused by interest groups to dig up and prosecute cases that have long been buried in history, thereby distracting its attention from the rampant corruption that is currently under way. This digression is dangerously counter productive.

The manner in which the ACC is made to function, it is obvious that the corruptions occurring now will be dealt with 20 years from hence.

The Bhutanese people must ask the question: Is this an effective way of battling corruption?


  1. This post of yours stinks of biases. While ACC has done what they have done with every corrupt seem to be offended by the fact that they also did the same thing to the Speaker!
    All corrput people will face the music in their life time and what ACC has done is something none of our mandated insitutions would do.
    We all know that laws must be abided...but when laws are not uniformly applied...the nation as a whole suffers. The national interest must reign over any interest group or party's interest

  2. Sir, I completely agree with you. But what, if the one whole year of investigation comes under conclusion within no time. What if Corruption, which ACC found out is not coming under any logical conclusion. ACC is compelled to prosecute the case. I don't know much about the law, but what I feel is that ACC would not have charged those involved with criminal charges without any rigid evidences. Now, ACC has completed with its investigation and so it deserves logical conclusion. We can't say that those corruptions were taken under different era, different law because its PM, OL and responsible institutions which found a need for the investigation. If they are to say this now, then they should not have wasted a lot of resources, time and manpower. So, what I mean to say is that, it seems absolutely ok for ACC to prosecute its own case when needed. After all its in the hand of Judiciary. If they are not given this power, then their hard work and dedication might go in vain.
    Just a personal view of a student.

  3. Anon,

    How can you say that this is a biased post? Please read once again and understand it properly. I am making two clear points:

    1. ACC will be more useful if they concentrated on CONTROLLING corruption
    2. No single agency should have the power the ACC has exhibited.

    I am not faulting the ACC for what they have done - but what their Act empowers them. If anything, I am blaming the legislative for having endorsed the ACC Act of 2011. The fact that the Parliament passed the ACC Act,2011 shows that our Parliamentarians did not take their responsibilities seriously. If they did, they would have seen the implications of a clause that empowers the ACC to suspend any one at will.

  4. Jamtsho,

    Thanks for your comment. My stand is simple: the ACC is free to charge anyone with any kind of allegation and substantiate them in the court of law but is it correct that they should have the authority to pass a judgement? Isn't that in the domain of the Judiciary?

    In other words, let the Courts decide if the charged parties are criminals or not. The ACC should have the mandate to prosecute them as criminals - not announce them as such.

  5. I totally agree with you in ACC being “embroiled in witch-hunting” business. The purpose for which it was created is abused by the office. It acts as if it is mandatory to dig a case and proof to the public of its power. Victimizing many ignorant people of its high-handedness- “To err is human”, it is through mistakes people learn. Even God forgives and this ACC has been way beyond God. I personally am interested to study its policy framework. I wonder how ACC have defined corruption. I also feel there should be check and balance in placed. Just because an ignorant person taste a cube of sugar while making cake doesn’t make him/her a criminal lifetime. Where is the provision to study its purpose, why, how and what of the history instead and nabbing, tearing and brandishing in its victory in seizing another crook? ACC many a times had over ruled individual human rights as well. It has interpreted laws to suite its purpose and self revenge. Some high orders must intervene!


  6. I also don't understand why the ACC is wasting so much time and energy on something of the past; if they need to show examples of corruption am sure the list will be endless from the minutest to the gigantic. I hope that at least some part of the office is indulging in finding ways to combat and stop corruption. They should deal with the present day ongoings and create awareness everyday.

  7. Yeshey Sir,

    I hope you will post a follow-up post about OAG and its 'deformities' and why and how it should or should not be the legal counsel for private individuals. If something is not done urgently, a day might come when the OAG will be defending speakers/ministers for murder, rape, etc.

  8. it would be interesting to see your opinion on the recent clash between OAG and ACC..i also feel this article bit bias as well because of its timing since this is the first time ACC have gone after the so called "big fishes".... common people have faced this problem but ACC's power was never seen as problem until now...but then i again wonder if such questions are only relevant when high profile individuals are facing the music...

  9. Dear Anon,
    I do not think that you or anyone is right to fault the OAG for requesting for a restraining order on the suspension order issued by the ACC. In doing so, the OAG is NOT defending the Speaker or the Home Minister. They are merely challenging the legality of what the ACC has done.

    You would be right if the OAG were to fight the case on behalf of the Speaker and the Home Minister in the District Court of Mongar where the case has been filed.

    As I said, I am not even saying that the ACC is wrong in whatever they have done. What I am saying is that no single agency should have the power to suspend the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Constitution does not bestow that kind of absolute power to neither the Head of State nor the Head of the government.

  10. Dear Chimi,

    I do not think there is a clash between the OAG and the ACC. If anything, there is a difference of opinion in their individual interpretation of a specific law. The matter is now in the court of law - so let the court decide.

    The Speaker and the Home Ministers are members of the Cabinet, a functioning government. The government merely asked the OAG to seek the court's view on the legality ACC's suspension order. Now, if the Court rules that the ACC has the authority, then the matter ends there. OAG has to withdraw and allow the law to take its course.

    Please remember, the OAG is NOT fighting a case because it wants to prove that the Speaker and the Home Minister are perceived to be innocent of the charges.

  11. Dear Yeshey, your article is biased and in bad taste. The descriptions you choose to use, malformed, severe deformity, eyes in the back of its head,Argos Panoptes, guarding its rear, bat-blind in its frontward vision, etc betrays your bias even before you come to the mighty power granted. I enjoy your other articles but this time, man you prove to be a very biased person. I hope none of your relatives are in the Gelpoishing case. The ACC is empowered to the extent required to fulfill its mandate but maybe some in ACC are over enthusiastic. The ruling by the High Court settles the teething problems which come with nascent democracy and autonomous institutions. There is check and balancesbuilt but you refuse to see them.

  12. Dear Anon,

    Thank you for your comment.

    You are not being fair in calling my post “biased”. I invite you to reread my post with an open mind rather than reading it with a preconceived notion.

    I am pained that a great organization with a set of very competent and dedicated people are rendered ineffectual behind purposes that was not in the scheme of things at the time when its need was conceived. Unless you accept that the way forward is to look backwards, I believe that the ACC is being distracted from its primary function: CONTROLLING CORRUPTION.

    I wish for the ACC to be forward looking. I want them to have time to combat and control corruption. I do not want them to be forever embroiled in cases from the past thereby leaving them with no time or resource to take on cases that are in the here and now.

    They cannot keep policing the past. If that were important and necessary, let us ask for the creation of an organization named PCC (Past Corruption Commission).

    If the system is to be cleansed of corruption, if we are to control and combat corruption, let us free the ACC from being bogged down with cases that happened in the past. That way they will be more effective and useful.

  13. Taking legal actions against those who have acted corruptly is also a way of controlling corruption, which you seem to ignore.
    ACC is not digging past graves but has been asked by PM to investigate Gelpoishing case to quell public concerns expressed in media. Instead of appreciating ACC and supporting it you seem to fault it for doing its job.

  14. Dear Anon,

    I wish you would read my post properly and understand the implications of what I am saying. I am not faulting the ACC for doing what they have done. They did exactly what they have been empowered to do. You are missing the point I am trying to make.

    Simply said, I am trying to make this simple point: there is nothing democratic about a democratic institution being empowered to act in a most undemocratic manner. Under a democracy, no single institution should have the kind of power that the ACC has been empowered with. What I am asking for is the rationalization of the powers that can be exercised by organizations such as ACC, RCSC, ECB, RAA etc.

    Check and balance is all fine but we cannot allow the check to upset the balance.

    And, by the way, I disagree that digging into the past is an effective way of controlling corruption. On the contrary, the ACC being forever embroiled in matters of the past is one sure way of promoting corruption since their attention will be drawn away from the corruption that is happening now, which is what they are supposed to combat.

    Incidentally, now that the High Court has passed a ruling, you have to agree that I am in the right. It is now time to amend the ACC Act to ensure that their time and resources are directed towards matters for which they were created.

    ACC is an important agency with very serious responsibilities. We have the right set of people working for it. Let us not waste their competence on something that should, for all reasonable purposes, be outside their mandate and scope.

  15. The ACC is a big joke!!! Had it focussed on fixing the system that allows people to be corrupt, they would have saved millions instead of what they are doing now - witch hunting. In trying to prove that some one is corrupt, they are spending more than the amount actually misused by the accused. Let us hope that the people working there get their senses checked, including the location of their eyes and brains, before they do more damage to the country's peace, harmony and stability.