Appealling justice

Yesterday, after learning that the government was appealing the High Court’s verdict, Bhutan Today sent me some questions. With their permission, I’m reproducing their questions and my answers here.

What do you think about the government appealing to the Supreme Court?

I am pleased that the government has decided to appeal to the Supreme Court, as they were obviously not satisfied with the High Court’s verdict. Remember that the government has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

As far as the opposition party is concerned, we respect the government’s decision to appeal, and will submit to the judicial process completely.

Do you think the High Court’s verdict has failed to set a precedence on constitutional cases for the future?

The High Court has not failed in any way. They ordered a verdict after giving the case careful and considerable thought. The fact that the government is appealing to the Supreme Court does not diminish, in any way or manner, the excellent work done by the High Court.

How hopeful are you of what the Supreme Court might pass as verdict? Do you think it will favor the government?

I have full confidence in the Judiciary. And I am absolutely certain that the Judiciary will fulfill their Constitutional mandate to “safeguard, uphold, and administer Justice fairly and independently without fear, favour, or undue delay in accordance with the Rule of Law to inspire trust and confidence and to enhance access to Justice.”

Obviously, we cannot predict what the final verdict will be. But regardless of how Supreme Court rules, you can rest assured that the opposition party will accept it without any question.

What is the long term implication of this case incase the Supreme Court intrepretation favors the government?

The fact that the government is appealing to the Supreme Court is good. It will bring proper closure to our first constitutional case. After all, the Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution, and the final authority on its implementation.

We will argue the case to the very best of our ability, but we will accept, and abide by, the Supreme Court’s final verdict. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, I am confident that the long term interests country and the people will be protected.


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  1. Here, the Honble OL is clear and firmed for respecting the eventualities that would come sooner or later from the coustodian and final interpretator of the constitution. He had answered the questions decently without arguing and blaming anyone for appealling the matter. Opposition is doing as opposition and the rulling party is doing as the rulling govt, everybody is infact doing their own job. Let the differences felt be solved from supreme court as the matter had moved up, for which OL had assured his acceptance regardless of the SC rulling and the govt ofcourse has also have to accpept and abide by then. But more than the Opposition and the rulling party, the people have to stop grumbling and commenting, whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not….

  2. Whatever, the Supreme Court has to go by the law and the law on taxation is crestal clear that the govt cannot raise tax except by law. Where was that law for DPT govt to raise the tax? It is as simple as that. I am confident that the SC will pass the verdict same as the HC unless it wants to be laughed at by the people.

  3. Thanks that the HC did order interest on the illegal tax collected by the govt. to be refunded to the people. Actually, people are entitled for interest on their money collected by the DPT.Govt.. Ity was not a fair judgement in totality.

  4. Pema Sherab says

    This is What i have posted in the Kuenselonline..

    Anybody can be a hero in our small way perhaps if we are dedicated and loyal, yet in the diverse fields. Yes in the case over tax raise, which would save lots of poor people and poor people alone, the Hon’ble OL and his team mate the Hon’ble Damcho, is the HERO. The reason why I say poor ppl alone, read the statistics from the kuensel, many who bought luxury cars like Prado, landCruser, CR-V etc… have not paid much taxes, because they bought cars on government Quotas. And wow, what a shame, one of purpose/objectives of raising taxes was to reduce traffic congestion and environment pollution, yet the RSTA records showed that after increasing taxes also increased numbers of vehicles coming into Bhutan. Let me put my personal feelings here, people might have thought that taxes may again be increased, because it’s all up to the Finance Ministry and they must be buying before the government yet revised taxes again.

    Now, the Hon’ble PM didn’t expect the verdict as resulted and in next few days it would mean either government taking case further or Amendments of the various! Acts! Now the point is, if ever the Supreme Court’s verdict or the interpretations of constitution differ from the High court, than the general public will not have any faith in the judiciary system of Bhutan for generations to come, moreover this would be quoted in every bad examples henceforth, this would become common phrases everywhere and finally the constitution would mean anything to any people, (if) because the different level of same institution has different interpretations. Than to whom general public to believe (bull shit yeah!), therefore, my personal feeling is that even the government taking the case further, I do believe that the verdict may not differ, and this justify enough that OL is the HERO for saving the Constitution of Bhutan and making the strong foundation of Democracy in Bhutan, not because he won the case this time, but because making sure both the Ruling or Opposition party in the future must abide by the National law i.e THE CONSTITUTION OF THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN. LONG LIVE BHUTAN

  5. ST,

    Yes, the Constitution says that taxes cannot be altered or revised except by ‘law’ and you asks (as would any ignoramous) where is the law. The law in question is the Sales Tax, Customs and Excise Act 2000. Therefore, the government has the right to feel dissatisfied with the justice rendered by the High Court. If the Constitution were to say ‘except by Parliament’ instead of ‘except by law’, then every Tom, Dick and Harry would agree with the verdict, but the Constitution doesn’t say like that.

    And also, I don’t think Constitution can be taken as the legal authority on any matter (in this case taxation). If Constitution alone can give legal authority on taxation, what is the use of Sales Tax, Customs and Excise Act 2000. The latter gives full authority on fixation, alteration and revision of indirect taxes to the government. I wonder how the High Court missed this provision.

    Something’s fishy.

  6. I really think that the Government should weigh the cost and benefits of this appeal. I sincerely hope that this act of the Government is really in the best interest of the country and not an ego issue because of the earlier verdict by the high court. I beleive that this case is going to be given priority over other cases and might take up a lot of time and money in the process of which other cases might be back-logged.
    I don’t mean to say that they shouldn’t appeal as it thier right to appeal as mentioned by the Opposition Leader in the interview.I just hope that this is not a strategy to twist the law into their favor or in this case to win the first constitutional case in Bhutan.

  7. Two reasons why the Sales Tax, Customs and Excise Act 2000 should be SUBSERVIENT to the Constitution of Bhutan 2008.

    1. The principles of jurisprudence requires all laws of the land to be compatible with the Constitution and not the other way round.

    2. If some provisions of the Sales Act 2000, or any other Act, is in contradiction with the Constitution, then the Act must be amended, not the Constitution. This implies that no Acts or their provisions that contradict with any provisions of the Constitution should be enforced. They should be amended immediately.

    How the current DPT government wants these amendments to be made, is their prerogative. This is where they can fool around if they want or brag their absolute majority they have in the parliament.

    But they can’t take the country for a ride by quoting some Acts that are inconsistent with the Constitution.

  8. Pema,

    I surrendered to you because you don’t know anything.


  9. Though i voted for DPT, yet i felt that our opposition leader had gone in accordance with the laws of land. He had respected the Supreme law, i.e. Constitution and i am very much eager to hear verdict from Supreme Court. I hope laws of land will uplift without harming Bhutanese. Our laudable government had also done well. So keeping on watching and listening verdict from Supreme court. Let’s see the Defendant.

  10. Contrary to what the OL says, I believe the government should have graciously accepted the verdict passed by the High Court and refrained from appealing this case to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court does not uphold the verdict passed by the High Court, it would only make people believe that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is in complete cohorts with the ruling party, something which is being alleged in many quarters already. On the other hand if the Supreme Court goes along with the verdict passed by the High Court, while the Chief Justice and the Apex Court of our land would be lauded, it would be a big blow to the DPT and relations between the Judiciary and the Executive would be strained, something which would not be good for both these institutions.

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