MB Subba

The National Assembly adopted 24 of 56 amendment proposals proposed by the National Council (NC) in the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2019, during the re-deliberation which concluded on February 27.

This means that 32 sections of the Bill will go to a joint sitting of Parliament.

The disputed sections of the Bill include those on value-based sentencing, child in conflict with law, rape, organised crimes and fronting.

The NC has proposed the need to categorise fronting among Bhutanese citizens separately arguing that it is rampant in the country.

The NC also proposed that if a sexual intercourse between children of 16 years to 18 years was consensual at the time of occurrence, it shall not be considered rape. 

The NC also proposed to do away with sections from the Penal Code (amendment) Bill that are redundant.

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji (PhD) said that it would not be right to remove such sections from the Penal Code (amendment) Bill. However, some members said that the NC’s proposals could lead to clarity of laws for the law practitioners and avoid duplication.

 The National Assembly passed the Bill with 34 Yes and one No votes while seven members abstained.

 The disputed sections will be referred to a joint committee of the two Houses and submitted to the Druk Gyalpo, who shall then command for a joint sitting.

 The Penal Code Act was last amended in 2011.