Tibetan top court continues rejection of Topgyal Tsering as new minister

Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission Secretary Tashi Gyatso answers questions from journalists during a press conference at his office in Dharamshala, India, on 4 April 2019.

Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission Secretary Tashi Gyatso answers questions from journalists during a press conference at his office in Dharamshala, India, on 4 April 2019. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 4 April 2019

Continuing with their refusal to accept Topgyal Tsering’s appointment as a minister, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission released a nine-page explanation for their position at a press conference.

The paper reiterated the Commission’s position, which differs from the decision taken by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile approving the choice of CTA President Lobsang Sangya’s proposal for appointment of a new minister.

Speaker Pema Jungney had declared Topgyal Tsering to be approved following a secret balloting that won him 21 votes from a total 42 votes. The Charter of the Tibetans-in-exile mandates that approval must get at least 50% of the votes from the members present in the House. There were 43 members present, including the Speaker. However, the Speaker didn’t cast his vote.

Jungney announced that 50% of the 43 would be 21.5. This he said was according to Google calculations. Quoting Article 49.1 of the Charter, he said that fractions could be dismissed.

In the Supreme Justice Commission’s explanation, quoting Article 22 of the Charter that mandates 50% of the votes from the members present in the House during the process. The paper stated that 21 of 43 makes it 48.84%, and hence they would not be able to accept the result. It further stated that Article 49 is not about election of ministers, but rather it’s about the quorum it needs to proceed to decide on matters in the House, as then the fractions could be ignored.

Item 1 of Article 49 says: “If two-thirds of the total number of members, either in the Tibetan Parliament or its Standing Committee, as the case may be, are in session, it shall have the right to resolve any matter. Provided that when the total percentages are calculated the fractions thereof shall not be taken into account.”

The document showed the minutes of the proceedings after the House approved Topgyal Tsering, including a number of back and forth communications between the Commission and the Speaker, and a meeting by the Chief Justice Commissioner, the Speaker, and the CTA President over the issue.

The Speaker has referred to Article 58 of the Charter, and stated that the Supreme Justice Commission have no right to intervene in the business of the House, and that it is up to them to accept the approval of the House, and consider swearing in the new minister.

Item 1 of Article 58 says: “Any manner of the proceedings of the Tibetan Parliament shall not be called into question by any Tibetan Justice Commissioner under the pretext of any alleged irregularity or discrepancy with the regulations.”

Secretary of the Commission Tashi Gyatso, answering questions from the journalists, said that the Article 22 and 49 are two different matters. “There’s no confusion in these two articles. One is about the election of ministers, and the other is about the quorum of the House.”

Explaining Article 58, he said that the Supreme Justice Commission has not tried to interfere in the proceedings of the House. “We are pointing out what the Charter specifies, and not being fulfilled as required according to Article 22,” Gyatso said.

He added that the Supreme Justice Commission is there to protect the Charter. It is the prerogative of the Commission to interpret and make the decisions thereof pertaining to the Charter, and thus protect the rule of law.

Meeting the Speaker after the press conference by the Commission, Jungney reiterated his position, and quoting Google calculations said 50% of 43 is 21.5, and that the fractions could be discounted.

In the meantime, Topgyal Tsering has retired from the service of CTA. He has been serving since 1977 in various positions, and at the time of retirement was the Cabinet Secretary.


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