HC orders STCBL to pay its former CEO for unlawful dismissal compensation

In line to unlawful dismissal, High Court orders State Trading Corporation Limited (STCBL) to compensate a basic pay for six months, and retirement benefits to its former Chief Executive Officer.

This is for harassment and victimization.

High Court judgement points at three lapses during the investigation, violation of Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan, Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan (2007) and company’s Service Rules 2018.

Following this violation, the high court orders STCBL to pay Nu 80,000, the basic pay for six months to the former CEO, Kuenga Namgay amounting to Nu 480,000.Additionally

The Human Resource Committee led the investigation in 2020, the investigation team was then staffed with junior officials. This, the judgement say investigation led by subordinates is against the company’s service rules. Additionally, the judgement also points that despite the conflict of interest, the chairman of the board and investigation members did not exclude themselves from the investigation team.

Meanwhile, the contract between the company and the former CEO also requires the CEO to be convicted of a misdemeanour or higher offence for termination purpose, however, the former CEO was dismissed for petty misdemeanour.

Further, the matter was criminal in nature and the case should have been forwarded to the police, and the administrative actions should have been dealt with by the committee later. This, the judgement states is a violation of Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan.

The former CEO was also denied the right to get a copy of the complaint letter for rebuttal purposes. This, the judgement point is a violation of Labour and Employment Act of Bhutan (2007).

The former CEO filed a case against the company last year, it was dismissed by the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court as the former CEO failed to register the case within the 10 days appeal period, and that he appealed after two months.

However, the high court accepted the case because the company’s dismissal letter did not have a provision for the former CEO to appeal.

Former CEO’s statement to Bhutan TODAY:

Talking to Bhutan TODAY, the former CEO Kuenga Namgay said that he uncovered several abuse of power prevalent in the company and found corruption cases in the company, thus, he feels it is purely a conspiracy to remove him from the company.

Former CEO appealed to the court to suspend his services, and forward the case to RBP to investigate, a procedure he say is right for the company to terminate his services. “If RBP finds substance in the case, they will charge me to court,” said Kuenga Namgay. “If convicted by the court, then only STCBL can terminate me,” he added.

Additionally, he also points that as the CEO of the company, the right way to proceed with the case was for the board committee to first conduct a preliminary investigation, and not directly conduct a GM level committee investigation.

He said that the chairman should have refrained from the investigation as one of the complainants was the chairman’s niece. “In fact, the chairman was the main decision maker,” he added.

According to him, the first person to be held accountable has to be the company’s legal division for failing to brief the management and the board on the rules. “I have been removed without following the due process,” said Kuenga Namgay. “But the people who abused power and inflicted huge loss to the company is still serving with all benefits,” he said, adding, ‘actually, the general manager should have been suspended as there is a pending Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation ongoing’.

Additionally, he also points that the management and board as senior executives must also be held accountable because they should be versed with the country’s law. “The compensation should be paid by them and not the company,” he said. “The company is incurring the loss for their incompetency.”

Meanwhile, Kuenga Namgay, the former CEO says he is ready to defend the sexual harassment case too.

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