By Tenzin Dharpo
Defense lawyer Lobsang Dakpa. photo- Tibetanparliament.org
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 10: The defense lawyer of the Tibetan Kashag (Cabinet) led by President Dr. Lobsang Sangay, in the high profile ‘Case no. 20’ who failed to appear for two separate summons by the apex Tibetan court was declared a contemnor of the court on Monday.
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) yesterday declared that Lobsang Dakpa who represented the Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration against a defamation suit by former NA envoy and former Speaker of the Tibetan parliament, Penpa Tsering was in contempt of the court, over his remarks that criticized the verdict of the court on October 14.
The TSJC in a 7-page pronouncement said that Dakpa’s license to practice law in any Tibetan court is henceforth rescinded and that he must offer 100 butter lamps and offer a khatak, a traditional Tibetan scarf to the throne of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Theckchen Choling Tsuglakhang within the next 15 days, as a sign of apology over his remarks.
On October 14, the day when the TSJC ruled the case in favor of the plaintiff, Dakpa said that in his capacity as the defense lawyer, he was “not satisfied” with the verdict. He said that the court essentially handicapped the defendant’s moves by rejecting witnesses and disallowed producing confidential documents and likened the court of dismembering the defense throughout the proceedings.
The defense lawyer who is also a sitting Tibetan legislator failed to appear twice before the Tibetan court on December 6 and December 9 for hearing on the matter.
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission said that Dakpa has failed to adhere to the ethics of his profession as a lawyer and also failed to respect the court’s procedure and its proceedings and hence damaged the democratic process of the exile Tibetans.
The high profile defamation case was filed in May 2018 by Penpa Tsering, the former representative of the office in North America, against Kashag led by Lobsang Sangay, Sikyong of the Tibetan administration.
The then Chief Justice Commissioner Kargyu Dhondup acquitted the plaintiff Penpa Tsering from all the charges. The verdict ordered the defendant to issue an apology and clarification for the same through CTA’s official outlets and also to compensate INR 98,700 for the plaintiff’s lawyer fee.
The Kashag has fulfilled part of the judgement by paying the compensation but is yet to issue an apology despite failing to adhere to an earlier court deadline. The court has set the new deadline of December 27, failing which it said would result in the ineligibility to run for public office and the revocation of voting rights of all the members of the Cabinet, including the incumbent President.