Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill draws major debate in NA

The Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee, Ugyen Dorji

Sangay Rabten

The National Assembly has instructed the Good Governance Committee to rework on the recommendations of Anti-Corruption (Amendment Bill) in the ongoing parliament session.

The committee has recommended and proposed some new clauses in the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill. The Good Governance Committee recommended having the section as “an offence under this section shall be a misdemeanour or value-based sentencing, whichever is higher.

In the Anti-Corruption Act 2011, most of the penal provisions are classified as a misdemeanour or value-based sentencing, whichever is higher subject to a maximum of the felony of the second degree if the value or the amounts involved in the crime exceed the total amount of minimum wage for 35 years or more at the time of the crime.

The chairperson of the Good Governance Committee, Dewathang-Gomdhar MP Ugyen Dorji, presented the recommendation to the House and said there are 27 sections on penal provision of Ant-Corruption Amendment Bill where most of the points are similar. He said endorsing one section could be similar with all other sections.

However, the Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi pointed out that there are few errors in some sections of the recommendations regarding the penal provision.

He opined that in some sections some clauses are stated as a petty misdemeanour or value-based sentencing while some as a misdemeanour or value-based sentencing, and few others as a fourth-degree felony or value-based sentencing. However, the committee has written it all as a misdemeanour or value-based sentencing in the recommendations.

The chairperson said the recommendations were made after thorough study and consulting ACC, Royal Civil Service Commission and Office of Attorney General.

The committee also proposed new clauses in Anti-Corruption Bill. The committee proposed new subsection in Section 104 as “Any movable property which is frozen or confiscated under this Act by the commission may be allowed to use, operate or lease such properties upon depositing a reasonable sum of money or monies worth as a pledge pending the outcome of the investigation or auction by the Commission with approval from the court.”

In Section 108 the committee proposed: “Any immovable property which is frozen, seized or confiscated by the commission may be allowed to use, operate or lease, pending outcome of the investigation and prosecution with approval from the court.”

However, the committee is asked to revisit the section as the majority of the members pointed out that the subsections are not very clear.

Gangzur Minjey MP Kinga Penjor said that it is not clear who will be allowed to use. “As per the new clause, it is like the accused is allowed to use. There should be third party to allow the usage until the judgment is passed,” the MP said.

Section 62 (2) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2011 states: “A public servant who is guilty of an offence under this section shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding two times the amount which was so claimed or value-based sentence.”

The NA rejected the Good Governance Committee’s proposal to increase the punishment for false claims by public servants during the deliberation of the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill.