Case: Stakes in the defamation case between Sonam Phuntsho, and freelance journalist Namgay Zam and Dr Shacha Wangmo has grown with the latest submission yesterday.

Both parties submitted that the case is causing them mounting mental stress and for one defendant, contemplations of suicide.

Sonam Phuntsho said that since the Facebook post he has had sleepless nights. “Lots of my friends and family members are equally concerned about me and I get a lot of enquiries,” he told the chief judge at the Thimphu dzongkhag court.

Sonam Phuntsho claimed that since the doctors asked him to take medication for six months, the defendants have to compensate him at the national wage rate for the entire period amounting to Nu 22,500. “Although I’ve not incurred any loss in money as a result of the post, I am under shock mentally,” he said.

Sonam Phuntsho is seeking Nu 2.59 million, 10 percent of the amount the case is worth, as compensation if he wins.

Both Namgay Zam and Shacha Wangmo said that they are suffering from anxiety as a result of the defamation case.

“I had even thought of ending my life, of committing suicide at least on three occasions because of the mounting stress,” Shacha Wangmo said. “Wherever I go, even at job interviews, people ask me about the case and not about my qualifications.”

Sonam Phuntsho submitted 25 points to the judge asking the defendants to prove each of them. He asked if Namgay Zam had the right to post Shacha Wangmo’s story on social media, and to prove the allegation that he is above law, and that he is a crook.

Most of the allegations against him in the story refer to a case that the Supreme Court recently passed its verdict on.

Shacha Wangmo had claimed that Sonam Phuntsho sold a vehicle to her bother-in-law, who could not pay him and her sister was roped in to make an agreement with the creditor.

Sonam Phuntsho refuted this charge in his rebuttal yesterday and said that he had never made an agreement of Nu 3 million with Shacha Wangmo’s brother-in-law, Choki Gyeltshen, but with her sister Sonam Wangmo, who is missing and at large.

He said Shacha Wangmo should submit evidence as to where and when he had said that he had increased the amount from Nu 1.7 million to Nu 7.9 million when he lent money to a certain KT Penjor, who is also at large.

Shacha Wangmo was also asked to prove her claim that despite lending money to many people and violating laws, the courts had not punished him as his son-in-law is the chief justice of the Supreme Court.

He admitted to taking out furniture from the Changzamtog building as Sonam Wangmo had asked him to take them to give to his friends.

He said that Shacha Wangmo should produce the money receipts that she alleged he had tampered.

The question on his source of Nu 18 million, he said, he had answered at the court during the previous case.

He said that the National Land Commission had found that Shacha Wangmo’s sister had availed a loan of Nu 15 million from Tashi Bank with a fake thram of the building in Changzamtog,  which is on joint ownership with their mother Tandin Bida.

Sonam Phuntsho maintained that he had bought the building for Nu 35 million from Sonam Wangmo, who had obtained their mother’s signature and handed over to him in the presence of witnesses. Shacha Wangmo challenged the credibility of the witnesses and asked the court to summon them for examination.

He said that the post has done him irreparable damage as many people across the world, including Bhutanese, had seen the post.

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

She had denied any defamation and asked the court to dismiss the case.

The defendants will submit their rebuttal on October 26.

Tshering Palden