By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission's Secretary Tashi Gyamtso at the press conference at Gangchen Kyishong on April 4, 2019. Phayul photo.
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 4: The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission and the Tibetan Parliament in Exile have reached an impasse over the appointment of former Cabinet Secretary Topgyal Tsering Zongkha as a new Kalon (minister) in the Tibetan cabinet headed by President Lobsang Sangay.
The Tibetan top court this morning at a press conference reiterated that it will not swear in Topgyal Zongkha as a Kalon despite being declared as a new appointee in the Cabinet by the Speaker of the Tibetan parliament in Exile following a voting in the parliament.
Secretary Tashi Gyatso from the SJC argued that the vote secured did not amount to 50% as 21 votes out of 43 amounts to 48.8%, and that the benchmark for appointment as enshrined in the provision of article 22 of the charter of Tibetan government-in-exile is not fulfilled.
On March 22, during the 2019-20 budget session of the Tibetan parliament, TPiE Speaker Pema Jungney declared Topgyal Zongkha as a new Kalon after he secured 21 votes in the secret ballot. The decision by the Speaker was based on the premise that 50% of the votes would mean 21.5 and 21 was considered sufficient as per the direction of article 49 of the charter that says decimals may be not taken into account in such voting.
Speaker of the TPiE Pema Jungney speaking with the press at Gangchen kyishong on April 4, 2019. Phayul photo.
The SJC Secretary further said the Speaker has misinterpreted the Article 46 and 58 in asserting that no court has jurisdiction over the voting procedures of the Tibetan parliament. Gyatso said that the SJC is tasked with safeguarding the Tibetan charter and that any act of undermining the same will not go unchecked.
While responding to the allegations, Speaker Pema Jungney told the media today that there is no change in his recognition that the candidate secured 50% of the votes and he was hence declared as a Kalon. He also cited Article 58, Clause-1 which states, “Any manner of the proceedings of the Tibetan Assembly shall not be called into question by any Tibetan Justice Commission under the pretext of any alleged irregularity or discrepancy with the regulations”.
“The charter has prescribed that any proceedings in the assembly cannot be called into question by any TJC. The President’s candidate secured 50% vote in the floor test and the Parliament has declared him to be a Kalon. Now it is up to the SJC to swear him in or not,” Jungney said.
The top Tibetan court and the parliament failed to reach a consensus despite holding closed door meetings.