By Tenzin Sangmo
First hearing session of Case No. 20 at TSJC
DHARAMSHALA, June 5: Case No. 20, better known as LS Vs. PT case saw its first hearing today after a year since it was first lodged. However, it might be stalling again with the defendant’s lawyer requesting the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) for a three-month extension.
Penpa Tsering, former Tibetan Representative of North America, the plaintiff in the case, filed the case against Dr. Lobsang Sangay led 15th Kashag, after it published a 10-point clarification on 18 Nov 2017 over the former’s termination from the Office of Tibet, Washington on Nov. 7, 2017.
Kashag cited “growing trust deficit, underperformance and insubordination,” as the ground for termination and quoted Chapter 1 Article 1(3) of the Tibetan Charter and Article 19(1) of the Tibetan Public Service Commission rules and regulations that sanction the termination.
Penpa Tsering was accompanied by his lawyer Namgyal Tsekyi while the defendant was represented by its lawyer Lobsang Dakpa, a lawyer and a member Tibetan parliament-in-exile.
The hearing today was devoted to the framing of issues where the Chief Justice Commissioner posed questions on ten issues that one party affirms and another party denies in their respective written statements that require an explanation in order to proceed to trial.
The defendant responded to most questions by saying they were already answered in the written statement. The commissioner, after multiple reminders, categorically stated that the commission will take the responses as being the final.
When the afternoon session began with only two issues left for questioning, the defendant requested for extension of three months in order to come up with an explanation for questions raised.
The plaintiff and his lawyer both objected vehemently to the request saying enough extension has been given and that few more months wouldn’t make any difference.
In her objection, plaintiff’s lawyer spoke on the impact of another extension on prolonging the social, psychological, monetary and time loss suffered by the plaintiff, saying her client would consider demanding a significant compensation in such case.
Notwithstanding the defence lawyer’s expressed readiness to compensate, the plaintiff said he has already spent a considerable amount of time waiting for the case to proceed and reminded the commission that justice delayed could amount to justice being denied.
He further remarked that the defence’s lack of preparedness is a clear indication of its lack of seriousness toward the case and of non-adherence to the series of instructions given by the commission.
“Resolving the case sooner holds the key to resolving the public commotion attached to it,” Tsering said in response to the opponent’s argument that more time would help it frame the answer in detail and therefore lead to a fair trial.
The commissioner said it would consider the application for extension after deliberation with the two other commissioners. It, however, said even if the extension is granted it would be applicable only to the remaining two issues left for discussion.
The defence lawyer, post the hearing, told the media that he has the explanation demanded by the commissioner while the plaintiff said they wouldn’t like to comment on anything at the moment.
Two things were made clear today by the commission – the case is not contesting Kashag’s right to terminate the service of a Representative of Office of Tibet as both parties are in agreement over Kashag’s prerogative and that His Holiness' name cannot be used in the case as he devolved his political power in 2011.
The hearing was attended by Tibetan parliamentarians, media and members of the public. The commission said an announcement would be issued about the date of next hearing or if an extension of any duration is granted to the defence.