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Tibetan judges deny wrong doing, say TPiE “not above the law”

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Chief Justice Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo (C), and Justice Commissioners, Karma Dadul (L) and Tenzin Lungtok (R) address the press on Friday in Dharamshala (Phayul photo)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Mar. 25: The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) on Friday denied any violation of the charter, the prime cause cited by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile in their removal.  “We haven’t violated any law. I think it is important for the TPiE Speaker Pema Jungney and 11 MPs in the Parliamentary Standing Committee to take the historical responsibility for such a move,” said Chief Justice Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo at the press release.

The judicial body of the Central Tibetan Administration also remarked that the suo moto ruling in September was aimed “protect the charter”, noting that the TPiE is “not above the law”. The parliament session on Thursday voted 31-10 in favour of the motion to remove three top judges of the TSJC through a secret ballot.

The Chief Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo also said that it sets a ‘dangerous’ precedent for the future as no ‘checks and balances’ will be tolerated, “It seems that Tibetan parliament will hold the ultimate power if we move forward like this; there might come a time that anybody else in the Administration will be afraid to hold the parliament accountable.” The TSJC argued that many states in India including Himachal, Haryana and Punjab continued their sessions despite the pandemic, and the postponement till March this year was against the charter.  

TPiE Speaker Pema Jungney said that the motion was necessary to ‘protect the charter’. The parliament rejected the suo moto ruling adding that the court does not have any jurisdiction over the internal proceedings of the house. The Supreme Justice penalized the standing committee of the parliament over failure to conduct the 10th session due to Covid-19 restrictions. The press release today said that the trio will leave the office immediately, not because they had done anything ‘unlawful’, but only out of respect for the constitution. 

Chief Justice Commissioner Sonam Norbu Dagpo and the two Justice Commissioners, Tenzin Lungtok and Karma Dadul, are all veteran civil servants of the exile Tibetan government, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration.

8 Responses

  1. Without separation of the three branches of govt: executive, legislative & judiciary, and without independent judiciary there can be no genuine democracy. The TPIE’s actions here are unconstitutional. It’s anti-democratic. It should be rightly condemned by the people. We need a strong democracy in exile. China is laughing at the TPIE’s behavior. The Constitution/Charter must be respected & followed above all else.

  2. Speaker cannot impeach anyone. It was a motion passed by the Executive members for the Speaker’s to give his explanation about the entire story and assembly members knew why the Executive members bringing the motion of impeachment. Impeachment was not easy as it should get 2/3 members support. Mr. Speaker would not be spared from criticism even if the motion did not get required support. Critics would always find something to criticise as it is their job whether we see it destructive or constructive.

  3. TPiE does not need to apologize at all. 31 parliamentarians voted yes on the resolution to remove TSJC. How the TPIE conducts its business and interprets rules that apply to their proceedings is entirely their jurisdiction. TPiE needs to stand its ground and not be intimidated by the PR campaign of the justice commissioner and his cronies. What TPiE did was bawse move! Good to see some actions

    1. Wrong. The three branches of the CTA are separate. The legislature should not have the power to remove the judiciary or executive without following the Charter. An independent judiciary is key to democracy. Without it the other branches can run amok. If a Justice is to be investigated for wrongdoing it should not be by the TPIE or the Sikyong but an independent investigator. This action smacks of Banana Republic style government.

  4. Constitution is constitution. So there is no excuse or exception even the sky is falling down until the very constitution is amended. The standing committee has clearly violated the article 40 according to the interpreters(TSJC)of the law. After all, TPIE cant forget that they are the law maker, not interpreter.

  5. The recent removal of three judges from the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission by the TPiE by means of a secret ballot was a radical action which set the CTA on a very perilous path. Both sides cited cursorial reasons based on the Cha-Trim. However, also they drew certain practical analogy of other democratic countries in terms of handling COVID pandemic to justify their respective actions. This is neither realistic nor appropriate methodology. The nature of our democracy is so different from the rest and, as such, our needs and aspirations have no comparisons. We need to see what works the best and what does not for our unique situation. However, this does not at all imply encouragement to resort to frequent changes to the Cha-Trim nor does it mean to minimize the supreme importance of implementing every enshrined provisions of the Charter to its letter. Since HH has bestowed our democracy, we have done commendably well thus far. But it is not the time for complacence. Our democracy is still at its nascent stage and at a more trail and error process than others. Because of it, we are bound to encounter roadblocks while putting the Chat-Trim into practice. At such times instead of rushing to hasty decisions, the responsible civil servants should implement their prudence and be able to perceive the ramifications of their actions for our greater good. This, of course, entails generating willingness of meeting minds and deliberating dialogues so that all trivialities can be eliminated and a consensus be reached with transparency and to the satisfactions of all, including the general public.

  6. We condemn this decision by Legislative Assembly and thus asking them to apologise publicly to restore the damage done to our democracy!
    The Justice Commissioners should be reinstated, invalidating the Resolution passed , which was done in so much haste without giving them adequate time for discussion.( here I would like to remind what MP Tsering Lhamo la pointed out in the parliament stating it was done in such a secrecy that she finds it odd and thus not apprehensive.)
    Or Senior CTA officials should resign in mass to protest against this injustice and humiliation on their very fellows , who have served the CTA for decades.
    Tibetans should not vote for Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the rest MPs who passed this Resolution!

  7. It is disheartening to see that the Parliamentarians not only violated Article 40 by not even holding an online meeting within the period set within the Charter; but they retaliated by impeaching the entire Judiciary on baseless grounds.
    1. Article 54 states that impeachment cannot be discussed until a special committee is formed to do that. But Speaker held a secret ballot and impeached in less than 2 hours.
    2. Grounds of impeachment has to be if the Justice commissioners violate the law or are incapable. The SJC followed all the laws including suo moto correctly, and all of them seem to be in good health.

    Just because Speaker said he didnt know and was on sick leave when the suo moto amendment was received by his office years ago (during the time of previous Supreme Justice Commissioners), doesnt mean he can pick and choose what laws he wants to follow or ignore. No one is above the law, no even the chithue.

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