The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) charged Penjore Penjore for defamation citing three Sections of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004
By Tashi Namgyal
In a breakthrough court trial session, the media was allowed to attend for the first time when the Thimphu District Court’s Bench II presented the charges that was submitted by the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) against Penjore on November 23.
According to the chargesheet submitted by the police to the court, the defendant, Penjore accused the OAG of not charging the Bhutan National Bank (BNB) officials for official misconduct and forging documents during the recruitment process of 15 supporting staffs back in 2017.
Additionally, the police also charged Penjore Penjore of several Facebook posts made against the OAG in May 2021. Some of the posts mentioned in the chargesheet are “Shocking Bigger Crime at the Bhutan’s OAG level-A guilty Secret Cheating Case through Collusion-A National Shame”. It also mentioned “DANGEROUS and greater corruption happening in OAG,” “Bhutan completely NoW converting Bhutan as a complete lawless County in the eyes of the World…Monstrous Wrongdoing of OAG is not corrected immediately”.
The chargesheet further mentioned that such kinds of posts may mislead the people and may create disharmony between the people and the country, further reiterating that the reputation of the OAG will be impacted and the people’s trust would be lost at the same time.
The RBP, therefore, appealed to the court and stated that Penjore should be liable to be punished for defamation as per Section 317 of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB) 2004, and to penalize him as per Section 319 (b) of the PCB 2004.
Section 317 of the PCB 2004
A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of defamation, if the defendant intentionally causes damage to the reputation of another person or a legal person by communicating false or distorted information about that person’s action, motive, character, or reputation.
Section 319 (b) of the PCB 2004
The offence of defamation shall be A petty misdemeanour and pay compensation to the aggrieved party for a minimum of one month and maximum of three years calculated in accordance with the daily minimum national wage rate, if the defamation includes any matter other than murder, armed robbery, terrorism or treason.
The chargesheet also maintains that Penjore should be charged under Section 36 of the PCB 2004, which states that a court may order a defendant to pay appropriate damages or reparation for any loss, injury, or deterioration caused to a victim (OAG in this case).
Why did RBP file the chargesheet?
Although the sedition and defamation case against Penjore Penjore was dismissed by the Thimphu District Court in July this year, the police again charged Penjore of defaming the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) after the OAG reviewed and returned the investigation file to the police, reasoning that the prosecution for defamation is under the ambit of the RBP.
Meanwhile, law practitioners said that although it is upon the discretion of the court whether to allow media to witness a court trial or not, this (in Penjore’s case) is something new and bears testimony of the transparency of the judicial system in the country.
Penjore also said that he was very happy with the court proceedings on November 23 and added that he hopes the court will allow media to attend all the trials involving his case. The court ordered Penjore to submit his rebuttal on December 13 this year.