Educating officials

Yesterday, during the NA’s Question Hour, I asked the Education Minister:

On 30th June 2009, the RCSC terminated (without benefits) seven civil servants from the Ministry of Education for embezzling Government funds. However, the RCSC and Ministry of Education had already taken various disciplinary actions against each of them. So the termination of these education officials may be in contravention to Chapter 19, Section 10.2 of the RCSC’s BCSR which states that “Only one penalty shall be imposed in each case.”

How has the Ministry of Education sought to redress this possible injustice against the Education personnel?

All seven officials had tampered with accounts to include TA/DA for people who had not participated in the workshops that they had conducted. The officials claimed that the accounts had been manipulated to cover workshop expenses.

What they did is wrong. They must accept responsibility for their actions. And they must be fully accountable.

Four of the seven officials had manipulated less than Nu 30,000 each. The others between Nu 100,000 and Nu 200,000. All of them were terminated. And without benefits. The benefits (government contribution to the Provident Fund, and gratuity) for some of them total Nu 12,50,000.

If the penalty for misusing Nu 29,000 is termination from service and loss of more than Nu 13,00,000 (as in one official’s case), so be it. That the penalty appears excessively high is no excuse to argue in favour of officials who misuse public money. The law must be obeyed.

But that’s where it gets complicated. The law (in this case the BCSR) clearly states that only one penalty can be imposed on each case. And in this case, all seven officials received multiple penalties.

The first penalty was imposed by the RCSC and Ministry of Education jointly. They had decided to withhold the promotions, increments and further training of the officials involved. These penalties were applied because the RCSC and Ministry of Education had decided not to take the officials to court.

But after applying the penalties, the officials were taken to court. The District Court ruled in favour of the officials. But, the High Court ruled against them. And charged them with sentences for misdemeanor. Now the BCSR states that civil servants charged with misdemeanor will be terminated (without benefits) from service. So the seven officials were terminated – they lost their jobs and their benefits.

But, in terminating them, the RCSC violated BCSR, which prohibits the application of more than one penalty per offence.

Hence my question.

The Education Minister’s response was encouraging. He reported that he was pursuing the matter, and that the “case is not yet over.”

 

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Comments

  1. Here comes the urgent need of a
    1. Supreme Court.
    2. Civil Administrative Court.
    Unfortunately, we have none.

    If someone breaches our Constitution, where do we appeal? No where.

    If the very RCSC contradicts its very own BCSR, where do we appeal? No where.

    If RCSC transfers or terminates or demotes a civil servant unfairly, where do we appeal? No where.

    This is indeed very worrisome.

  2. Aro Khampa says:

    Tangba, I second thee.

  3. This again boils down to the Govt. not admiting that they made a mistake when they have made one. I would like to urge the Govt. that its okay to make a mistake and learn from it. and we can only correct them in the first place by acknowledging. ” we are loooking into the case/we will look into the case” has been said so many times in the past and all of us.. at least to me it means that perhaps the matter/case is meant or wished to be forgotten. This is a very sad situation. Avoiding/ignoring the blame is not the answer to these problems… being afriad of admiting it worse… many not right solutions will follow… making it worse in the end.

    In the process people are losing everything- most imporantly trust and faith in the system. I am afriad that this will lead to more serious problems in the future.

    But think… who are the losers?
    its the average Bhutanese… average workers.. who have worked so hard to make a living, to serve the country… it’s the average workers.. not anybody else….

  4. Dear OL

    “The case is not yet over” but the impact has already been felt. Their morality has been severely affected. It was one of the worst example of corruption case in the recent times which hampered but the average citizens.

    We all know that ACC and RAA can take actions only to whom they think they can get sufficient control otherwise most of the high-profile cases end even before public know of any penalties. That is why, sometimes it gives us feeling that ACC is meant only to civil servants that both lag and lack backing and any external powers.

    My point, if I try to link to this case is, when the BCSR clearly states out existence of only one penalty why has government failed to abide by its own laws, rules and regulations? Now that we know, what kind of penalties do exist for executors? What is the moral responsibility of RCSC, RAA and ACC in this? Of all, who is going to answer all these? NONE!

    This apparently indicates two prominent issues; one, RAA, ACC, RCSC and MoE tried to enforce as many penalties to the 7 officers as possible in order to exert undue publicity and knowing that this 7 officials lag and lack stronger backups, the multi-penalties were quite apparent of this fact. Otherwise people will agree that if one amongst 7 of them were relative or strongly linked to influential people, they must have escaped even without a single penalty. We know cases and we have seen, heard of it.

    Second, it discourages able civil servants to strive and work for excellence and contribute towards country’s growth. While checks and balance are imperative to ensure effective public service delivery, there must appropriate system where morality of civil servants are protected. Today one may work tirelessly and tomorrow he/she is imposed several penalties for one error despite existence of law forbidding the former. Who will be motivated to work when such system functions in total failure?

  5. I am interested to know how the above mentioned justice may be interpreted in the GNH context. If individual happiness does matter within the GNH framework, this is where the challenge lies. EQUITY and EQUALITY…….what matters is how we can prevent FUTURE corrupt behaviour, more than whether we have punished the PRESENT corrupt. If we are unfair in justice (ironically), then there is little guarantee that corruption will be prevented and greater likeliness that individual happiness will be sacrificed.

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