Defence chooses to stay the course

Despite DPT’s desire to withdraw its case, the defendant wishes to see it through

Libel: Irrespective of whether the court dismisses the sedition charge against Druk Phuensum tshogpa (DPT) as irrelevant, Dasho Paljor J Dorji’s lawyer yesterday submitted that his client would continue to fight the case for as long as it takes.

In doing so, defence lawyer Younten Dorji said the court should consider the importance of the case and, in the interest of the young democracy, allow the case to continue with the due proceedings.

The defence lawyer was submitting in response to DPT’s intention to withdraw the libel case against Dasho Paljor J Dorji, also known as Dasho Benji.

DPT last week sought withdrawal of the case in the larger interest of the nation if the court was unable to dismiss the charge of sedition as irrelevant.

However, Younten Dorji argued that Dasho Benji would continue with the court case, as his client, for the mere reason of posting an idiomatic comment online, was demanded that he either prove his statement or be punished.

He submitted that the court determine and issue appropriate orders whether the sedition charge merited dismissal as irrelevant from the present case as requested by the DPT.

The sedition charge against DPT, he said, was relevant in proving his client’s statement that the party has robbed the country blind.  He said DPT disrupted unity, peace, prosperity, stability, and harmony in the country, which are invaluable assets. “The case caused mental trauma and financial losses to my client, which is why my client wishes to continue with the ongoing case,” the defence lawyer said. “After inflicting so much pain on my client, the party “childishly” submits that they wish to withdraw the case.”

On April 23, DPT’s legal representative, Drametse-Ngatshang’s parliament member Ugyen Wangdi submitted that, if the court didn’t dismiss the sedition charge as irrelevant, the party, although it did not rob the country blind as alleged, would withdraw the entire case in the greater interest of the nation.

However, Ugyen Wangdi submitted yesterday that, whether or not the court dismissed the sedition charge as irrelevant, DPT would want to withdraw the case anyway.

The defence lawyer said the case has raised several questions, which, he stated, was for the greater interest of the public.  He said the court needed to be clear on whether government agencies, political parties or a group could maintain a defamation suit against an individual, and whether or not such online comments constituted defamation, among others.

In all its rebuttals so far,  DPT submitted that allegations on sedition and usurpation of royal prerogatives were irrelevant to the case, and asked the court to dismiss them.  However, the court is yet to decide on the sedition charges.

Since January, Ugyen Wangdi argued that DPT has conscientiously been cautious in their submissions regarding the ‘most hurtful and grievous accusation’ of usurping the royal prerogative of land kidu and the “preposterous” charge of sedition.

DPT, on September 9, last year filed a defamation case against Dasho Benji, for his comment on Facebook on August 15 last year, which stated that the party ‘robbed the country blind.”  The comment was later removed from the site.

By Kinga Dema

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