Penpa Tsering to file contempt procedure against Tibetan Cabinet

Signboard above the Cabinet building of the Central Tibetan Administration on 15 November 2019.

Signboard above the Cabinet building of the Central Tibetan Administration on 15 November 2019. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 16 November 2019

Following the failure of the Lobsang Sangay-led cabinet of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) to uphold the Tibetan Supreme Justice verdict requiring an apology to Penpa Tsering, the plaintiff is planning to file contempt proceedings against the Tibetan administrators.

The Cabinet refused to answer a request by the members of the press for clarification concerning insubordination of the judgment.

The court’s orders were to be fulfilled by the 13th of November, and the report of compliance to be submitted to the office of the Supreme Justice Commission by the 15th. The Cabinet submitted the report and the same had been sent to plaintiff Penpa Tsering by the court. The Cabinet paid Tsering’s lawyer fees of 98,000 rupees ($1,400 USD approx) as per the order.

Penpa Tsering responded to questions from Tibet Sun regarding the documents he received from the office of the court, saying that the Cabinet had not issued an apology as mandated by the court, in what has become known as Case no 20, which has become the biggest court case in the exile Tibetan community.

Speaking to Tibet Sun, Penpa Tsering said that he will appeal under civil procedure Articles 51 and 84 of the Tibetan judiciary for willful breach of the verdict given by the Tibetan court on 14 October which vindicated Tsering of all the charges, which amounted to defamation by the exile Tibetan cabinet.

Article 51 (B)(2) pertains to abrogating election rights by the court in case of non-compliance of its verdict. Article 84 (B)(2) concerns contempt of court.

An official of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission explained that it is up to the plaintiff to appeal regarding non-compliance. An appeal can be filed within 30 days for court’s action.

Penpa Tsering explained that the Cabinet was ordered to publish an apology for tarnishing his image. “The Cabinet failed to offer its apology for damaging my image, in both Tibetan and English in all their publications.”

He further said that the Cabinet is sowing seeds of discord in society. “The language the Cabinet has used, such as — the verdict as “unsatisfactory” and “There are also large number of petitions from general public expressing feelings of sadness” creates doubt in the minds of the people.

“Should the Cabinet fail to comply, what will be the status and the credibility of the Tibetan judiciary?”

Both the plaintiff and the defendant had signed an agreement to comply with the ordinance. “There will be no arbitration without the agreement.”

In November 2017 Penpa Tsering was removed from the post of Representative of the Dalai Lama in Washington DC on grounds of dereliction of duty, insubordination, and deficit of trust. The Cabinet then issued at 10-point justification of the removal, saying he failed to live up to their expectations.

PT didn’t dispute the Cabinet’s power to dismiss him, but challenged the ten points, saying they were baseless, and damaging to his image. He then filed a defamation case after Sangay asked him to go to court.

There may be a constitutional crisis in case of non-compliance to the verdict, if the Cabinet stick to their decision.

“Would the Cabinet be qualified to function if the Supreme Justice Commission takes action according to civil procedural rules?” asks Penpa Tsering.

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