… the hearing is likely to be this Thursday

Judiciary: The first hearing of the defamation case Sonam Phuntsho filed on August 12 against freelance journalist Namgay Zam and Dr Shacha Wangmo is likely to be held this Thursday.

Sonam Phuntsho in his letter to the Thimphu dzongkhag court asks the court to ask the duo to prove 25 accusations made against him on social media.

On August 10, Namgay Zam had posted on her Facebook page a lengthy story written by Dr Shacha Wangmo on a court case against Sonam Phuntsho.

She alleged that he tried to take away her family building in Changzamtog, Thimphu when an estranged family member could not repay Nu 0.7 million borrowed from him. She claimed that the amount had increased to Nu 19.5 million with compound interest.

A court battle ensued. Dr Shacha Wangmo’s sister disappeared while the trial was underway. It ended up with the Supreme Court re-examining the case. The Supreme Court is yet to issue its verdict because of which this paper is unable to publish the details of the case.

The post went viral within hours. About 4,475 people had shared the post on Facebook and more than 5,000 people had reacted to it as of yesterday evening.

Sonam Phuntsho said the whole story is false. Instead he said he had bought the building from the sister and had all documents. He said that the Supreme Court had settled the case.

“I’ve gone to the court seeking justice,” Sonam Phuntsho said.

Both Namgay Zam and Dr Shacha Wangmo have not received summon orders from the court.

“I’ve been expecting and was prepared for the consequences when I posted the story,” Namgay Zam said. She added that she had Dr Shacha Wangmo’s consent to use the story.

Dr Shacha Wangmo wasn’t aware of the defamation case against her. Both of them said that they stand by their actions.

“I wrote the story, and I’ll stand by it even in court,” she said.

Namgay Zam wrote to the Journalists Association of Bhutan (JAB) yesterday asking the association to help her to resolve the defamation case filed against her.

JAB President, Rinzin Wangchuk who is also the Dzongkha editor for Kuensel, said: “We haven’t gone through the letter but the JAB board members will definitely review and see what JAB can do.”

He said that, however, the association cannot comment on the case as JAB views it as a matter of subjudice, which again has to be dealt as per the principle of law.

“Association feels that lower court shouldn’t have accepted the case as the same issue is being reviewed by the Supreme Court. This has aggravated the situation and is going viral on social media,” Rinzin Wangchuk wrote in an email interview.

Tshering Palden