Nima Wangdi  

The High Court (HC) convicted two men to six and three months of mandatory rehabilitation for possessing controlled substances for self-consumption on October 29, last year.

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on November 22 ordered the High Court Chief Justice to lead a team of two other justices of the High Court and hear the case again since the previous judgment was not rendered fairly.

The order asked the Chief Justice of the High Court to decide the case at the earliest complying with Article 21, clause 1 of the Constitution. The section states that the Judiciary shall safeguard, uphold, and administer Justice fairly and independently without fear, favour, or undue delay in accordance with the Rule of Law to inspire trust and confidence and to enhance access to Justice.

The court last week upheld the dzongkhag court’s judgment and found the two men guilty of selling and possessing controlled substances and sentenced them to five years in prison.

The mother of one of the convicts questions the judicial process. She said it was a criminal case and the rule of law of the criminal case is that a person tried and convicted for an offence by the competent court cannot be tried for a second time according to section 206 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (CCPC).

The mother said that the retrial and new judgment with new conviction order were completely in violation of Section 206 of CCPC when a person shall not be subject to the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb by law.

She said the case looked exactly like the case where the Thimphu district court in June 2021, dismissed the Penjor Penjor case filed by OAG reasoning that the OAG was both the complainant and the prosecutor and cannot take action against Penjor Penjor. “In my son’s case, the judiciary is the complainant and also adjudicating the case.”

She said her son had completed the Mandatory Drug Treatment Program as the Central Treatment Assessment Panel recommended for the duration of six months by the HC in the previous judgment.

The special review bench has not reviewed and treated this case in accordance with Article 21 (1) of the Constitution but followed the Supreme Court’s order according to the mother.

“If the complaint was lodged to look into justice delivery procedure due to some suspected influences, then this review bench must first investigate this and then decide whether the retrial of an already disposed of case was merited. The bench did not do this,” she said.

The mother said that she is going to appeal to the Supreme Court.