Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Bizarre Case of Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji

The news that Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji had attacked an ACC (Anti Corruption Commission) official with a knife was so incredulous that I was stunned into numbness that whole evening. How is it possible that such a thing can happen – that such an act can take place within the sanctum sanctorum of the land’s highest justice system?

It is not upto commoners like us to question the validity of the proceedings of the three tiers of Bhutan’s judicial system, which culminated in the pronounced verdict in the Trongsa land case against Karma Tshetim Dolma, Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji’s wife. To question the wisdom behind the verdict is to lose faith in the institution of Bhutan’s judicial system. It is a dangerous thing to happen. It is not about that at all. I am not questioning the verdict – I am appalled by the act of Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji.

Ex-President of JDWNRH Lhab Dorji receiving one of the many donations of medical equipment made by the Rotary Club of Thimphu

What drove Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji to commit such an act that is self-destructive?

The Supreme Court upheld the lower Courts’ verdict and ruled that Lhab Dorji would get five years of prison for his involvement in the Trongsa land case. Without doubt Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji would know that an attempt to murder would get him lifetime imprisonment. He knew that 5 years was better than a lifetime in prison. And yet, he went ahead and carried through the premeditated act of murder.


Is it an act of a prey whose back has been pushed to the wall and he finds that he has nowhere else to go but forward – a final act in desperate retaliation – the outpouring of frustrations that remained pent up throughout the long drawn legal process?

I met Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji many times – first time in his capacity as the Thimphu Dzongda. Then few times when he was the President of JDWNRH, when I had to meet him in my capacity as the Secretary of the Rotary Club of Thimphu – to implement health related projects involving delivery and installation of medical equipment in JDWNRH. I always found him to be a balanced and levelheaded person. Then what caused him to take law into his own hands? Does he believe that the law has failed him?

My heart goes out to Ex-Dzongda Lhab Dorji – not because I believe that he is innocent of the charges leveled at him – but because it is obvious that there are issues that we are clueless about.

Lhab Dorji made a mistake – he got caught in an act of crime.

The thing about crime is that it is a crime only when you are caught in it – otherwise it is not a crime. There are hundred times bigger criminals than Lhab Dorji who are walking free and dispensing morality to people. They are the epitome of human morality.

That is the tragedy of life!

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