Many netizens are demanding reinvestigation of the molestation case where a 58-year-old former teacher in Tsirang was convicted of molesting 10 students in 2019, but the Supreme Court (SC) Registrar General (RG) said there would be no “reinvestigation”.
He said the SC inquired about the case, and found Dil Bahadur Chettri was proven to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
The RG, however, said the case would be re-adjudicated only if His Majesty The King commands. “Until then, there will be no reinvestigation or re-adjudication as the SC passed the judgment.”
He said if a case has come to an end, it should come to an end. “There should be an end to adjudication. It cannot repeat, otherwise, the parties must prove beyond reasonable doubt that there is miscarriage of justice.”
He also stressed that the standard of proof in criminal cases are very high, and that it has been proved by reasonable doubt.
According to the RG, Dil Bahadur Chettri Neopani had accepted before the court that he pinched students below the kera (belt) when he was produced before court for remand order.
He said that the judges speak through the judgements and the judgement was based on the submissions by both the parties. “As a head of the administration, I have already enquired with the preceding judge and the present judge of the case. I have inquired the justices of High Court and Supreme Court. I have enquired about everything and there is proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
The RG also said he inquired the High Court justices’ reasons to uphold the judgement of the trial court and the appellate court had found solid grounds to do so. “Judiciary is mandated to decide the case based on the merits of the issues by the Constitution and by all the existing laws.”
He said the judiciary is not involved in the discovery of the findings, and there is a separation of power to avoid perceived bias. “Whatever evidences and dispositions that is surfacing will not work. “They were all given a fair chance, so the case was closed.”
According to the RG, the convict’s lawyer agreed there was no further submissions, summons. “If there was a request to submit evidence or summon witnesses, the court would have done that. The judges and court officials have no clairvoyance. If there was any issue, the parties must request the court’.
The RG also stressed that DB is not an enemy of the judiciary and judiciary is a public institution.
He said that the accusations surfacing on social media platforms that some teachers of the school were involved to frame DB. “The issue was not raised when the issue was in the trial court in Tsirang. “If there is a case, it has to be dealt separately.”
To the growing accusations, the RG said that the perceptions of the parties involved cannot change overnight.
He said that the case was decided based on the same party’s submissions.
“People are changing statements today,” he said. “They were given a chance by all the authorities and to change statements now is not acceptable.”
He stressed that ideally when investigation are done on any person, there should be legal counsel behind that person and if it is a minor, a legal guardian or their parents must be present. “During the investigation, the parents confirmed to the molestation charges. Everyone involved were the same people and changing statement today is not acceptable. Everything has been documented.”
Meanwhile, the RG appealed the general public, media consumers and proactive social media users to read the judgements and not be swayed by opinions. “It needs to have a legal standing.”
He said that there are various institutions involved in the case and said it is made to appear as if all the institutions are against DB. “This is shocking. People are only looking at one side of the coin and they should look at both the sides of the coin.”
He expressed that the judiciary of the 21st century will not resort to any kind of claptraps.
The former teacher DB was found guilty of a fourth-degree felony and Tsirang dzongkhag court sentenced him to 30 years in prison and ordered him to pay a compensation of Nu 90,000 to each of his 10 victims.
The High Court altered the judgement partially and gave him a concurrent prison term of 10 years and six months by increasing his offence from fourth degree to second-degree felony.
The SC upheld the judgement of the appellate court.
However, the parents refused to accept the compensation and they are alleging the former teacher was wrongly accused.