(TibetanReview.net, Jun09’21) – Twenty-two of the 45 candidates elected to the 17th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) have on Jun 8 “taken their oath of office” before a portrait of HH the Dalai Lama and a copy of the Charter of Tibetans in Exile, not according to what the Charter requires them to. And being sworn in by no one but themselves, they have failed to become members of the 17th TPiE.
The Charter requires that the elected candidates be sworn in by the pro tem speaker. Twenty-one of the 44 candidates present at the ceremony duly took their oath of office from him.
The result of only 21 members taking their oath of office as prescribed by the Charter meant that the parliament lacked the prescribed two-thirds quorum to hold a meeting.
This in turn meant that the 17th TPiE could not elect its Speaker and Deputy Speaker, as was made clear by the Tibetan Chief Election Commissioner Pesur Wangdu Tsering when the pro tem Speaker Dawa Tsering reported the outcome of the oath-taking ceremony to him.
As a result, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC) has said the swearing in of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker had been postponed indefinitely as there was no certainty when their elections would take place.
The 22 candidates who sought to take their oath of office without anyone to administer it to them were made up of all the 20 elected members from the Dotoe and the religious constituencies, as well as Lhagyari Namgyal Dolkar from U-Tsang and Tenzin Jigme from North America.
Their grouse was that the pro tem speaker had been sworn in by the Chief Justice Commissioner of the TSJC whom they refused to recognize.
This related to the fact that on Mar 25, the 16th TPiE passed a resolution by two-thirds majority to remove the entire panel of justice commissioners of the TSJC because the latter had held the former’s Standing Committee members to account for being in violation of the Charter in deciding not to hold the Sep 2020 session of the TPiE. And the TPiE hit back by sacking them in a single sitting without any hearing of the justice commissioners.
Not only was the dismissal action seen as questionable for its pettiness, but it was also illegal in terms, both of the clearly stated substantive provisions of the law and the equally clearly laid down procedure by which it had to be carried out.
The Tibetan supreme justice commissioners rightly called the TPiE’s action illegal but then left their post on Mar 26 in what they later explained on May 24 – as they resumed their posts – was a recusal rather than a demitting of their office pending a resolution of the issue arising from the TPiE’s action.
The TPiE’s resolution to remove the entire panel of justice Commissioners resulted in a charter breakdown which continues to this day and will only be exacerbated by the intransigence of the 22 members who refuse to be sworn in by the pro tem speaker as required by the Charter.
Yielding to their demand would be possible only by carrying out more violations of the Charter.
Some from among the 22 recalcitrant members were reported to have pleaded with the Chief Election Commissioner to ignore the Charter and recognize their oath which they had taken by themselves before a portrait of HH the Dalai Lama and a copy of the Charter.
Tenzing Jigme, who belongs to the group of 22, has agreed that the removal of the justice commissioners of the TSJC was invalid but questioned their resumption of office after having, in his view, demitted it for good.
However, Lobsang Gyatso Sither, who belongs to the group of 21, has said the 16th TPiE resolution was null and void for being illegal.
While Jigme contends that the 16th TPiE’s resolution must be withdrawn in order to render it null and void, there is a principle of law which says that an action which is void ab initio is to be treated as invalid from the very outset, meaning it has never been valid or enforceable and was therefore never to be recognized. This is not based on any provision of any statute in any country but a fundamental principle of jurisprudence. But Jigme’s stand would mean giving recognition to the illegal resolution, as if there is somehow something legal about that illegal resolution.