By Tenzin Sangmo
Lobsang Sangay (R) and Penpa Tsering shake hands at a press conference following Sangay's victory in the elections/Phayul Photo/file/2016
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 12: In a new development in the case no. 20 between former North America Representative Penpa Tsering and the Tibetan President Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (SJC) instructed Sangay to edit out the arguments not relevant to the case and submit another statement following the instruction of the SJC’s letter.
The written statement was due on November 20th after completing the three months’ extension granted after the original stipulated time of three months.
It can be deduced from the letter that the written statement was submitted on November 30th.
The letter dated December 7, 2018 surmises the content of the written statement and points out the argument in the statement asserting the authority of Kashag to appoint representatives to offices of Tibet is not necessary as the plaintiff had specified in the petition that he is not challenging the Kashag’s authority.
It also urges the defendant to be mindful when referring to articles of Tibetan Civil Procedural Code in order to make relevant arguments.
The letter instructs the defendant to not mix the continuous association of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s name with the offices of Tibet with article 19(1) of Public Service Commission Guideline and article 5(2) of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) Administrative Guidelines.
The letter makes note of the fact that His Holiness the Dalai Lama had abdicated his political and administrative power on 29/05/2011 with the 25th amendment to the Charters of Tibetan government-in-exile, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration. “Article 19 of the charter assigns the President with full administrative power, and article 20 assigns President led Kashag to carry out the administrative duties,” asserts the letter.
Surmising the instruction, the letter states, "Although His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to bless and guide the administration, his symbolic presence cannot be mixed with responsibilities to adhere to the guidelines of the administration."
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission gave the deadline of January 15th, 2019, for the defendant to respond with a new statement that requires it to be concluded by acknowledging the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission’s instruction and promising to uphold its rules.
Former North America Representative Penpa Tsering filed a legal case against the Kashag over its decision to release him from duty as the North America Representative of the Office of Tibet last year.
Asked if his move could lead to more discord within the exile Tibetan community, Tsering said there was no reason for any discord just because of his taking the matter to the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission. "There are two options to prevent discord if any, one of the Kashag taking its responsibility or the court clearing this matter," Tsering told reporters on May 18.
The Tibetan cabinet (Kashag) earlier last year said that ousting of North America Representative Penpa Tsering was solely due to his "failure to assume his duties appropriately and in the manner befitting of the office, as seen by the Kashag." Tsering was replaced replaced by Education Minister Ngodup Tsering in December 2017.
Following the official notice Nov. 7, 2017, the incident sparked debates and discussions within the Tibetan diaspora with some saying the mood was akin to the campaign season disarray that was witnessed in the run up to the Tibetan general elections.
The former Speaker of the Tibetan parliament refuted all the allegations against him saying they were “false, incomplete and manipulative,” at a press conference on December 6, 2017. He said that while the executive body of the Central Tibetan Administration led by Dr. Lobsang Sangay has the authority to terminate him, he rejects the allegations which he said was an “attempt to malign his image.”
The row over the termination of Penpa Tsering’s tenure in Washington office began on Nov. 7 when the Kashag made a public announcement that former education minister Ngodup Tsering would be the new NA envoy. Later the Kashag made public a 10-point statement which cited growing “performance and trust deficit” as well as “insubordination” by Penpa Tsering.
The row became one of the most widely discussed issues within the Tibetan community on social networking and microblogging websites.