By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 29 March 2021
A member of the exile Tibetan Parliament has condemned the ousting of the Chief Justice and two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, saying it was “as unwise as it is unjust”.
Kyinzom Dhongdue, who represents Tibetans in Australia and New Zealand and those in Asia excluding India, Nepal, and Bhutan, issued a statement criticising the move by the Parliament. Her Facebook post has been shared 125 times, and generated comments that agreed with her sentiments that the Parliament has wronged the Chief Justice and the other two Justices by ousting them.
“We have to do better than how the Parliament behaved this past week, resulting in the unfair dismissal of the Chief Justice and two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission,” Dhongdue wrote in her letter.
“The decision is as unwise as it is unjust. Moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent for MPs to overreach their parliamentary powers and privileges.”
The Parliament on 25 March introduced an impeachment motion denouncing the Justices for taking a suo moto [taking action on their own] initiative questioning the decision of the Standing Committee of the Parliament to cancel the September 2020 session citing coronavirus concerns.
In the impeachment resolution, it was announced that suo moto was out of bounds for the Justice Commission, and that they cannot interfere in the proceedings of the Parliament according to Article 58 of the Tibetan Charter.
Citing Article 40 of the exile Tibetan Charter, the Justices then penalised 11 Standing Committee members including the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker by revoking their voting rights for six months.
The impeachment motion received more than two-thirds votes of the 41 members present in the House, with 31 members favouring the motion, in a secret balloting. The whole impeachment process took only one hour and half, the most part of which was used in reading the resolution.
It has now been brought to light that Article 54 of the Charter restricts the Parliament from discussing the matter of removing the Chief Justice and other two Justices, whereas such an issue will be discussed only when the findings of a probe committee appointed by the House shall be tabled in the session.
The Article 54 has put a question mark as to whether introducing the impeachment motion was constitutional.
The letter dated 16 October 2019 sent by the previous Chief Justice Commissioner to the Parliament, notifying the House of the suo moto rules, suggests that the Parliament has not paid heed to the changes in the rules of the proceedings of the Supreme Justice Commission.
Kyinzom Dhongdue in her letter said that the Covid-19 safety concerns, although genuine, should not have prevented the Parliament from meeting last year and debating the opportunities that this change presents for Tibet.
She suggested options to convene the session in a Covid-safe manner were available to them such as, they could have all met online, or a handful could have sat in the chamber with the majority joining remotely.
“The 16th Parliament failed to fulfil both constitutional and political responsibilities by not holding a session in September 2020. As a sitting MP, I accept my responsibility for this dereliction of duty.”
Raising concerns over the way the impeachment proceeding was conducted, Dhongdue says, “MPs are afforded little to no time to engage in careful consideration of the issues presented to us, even one as consequential as this, often compelling members to vote based on one’s affiliation to groups or factions and not on their own merit.”
She further said, “The democratic institutions that Tibetans built under His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s leadership are key pillars in our freedome struggle and, if nurtured and protected, will serve us well long into the future. They are no place for muscle-flexing, massaging of individual egos, or factionalism. Decisions such as that made by the Parliament last week weaken these very institutions and betray those who put their faith in us as their elected representatives. We are a young democracy, but we can do better than this.”