Accuse police of holding grudge and arresting them

Lhakpa Quendren

The couple charged with promoting prostitution in their hotel is accusing the police officer for arresting them on personal grudge resulting from a land purchase issue, and pleaded with the court to dismiss the case.

At the hearing on November 16, the defendants’ lawyer submitted that the husband was arrested because of a personal grudge held by the former Sarpang police Officer in Command (OC), also his first cousin.

In the response submitted to the Gelephu drungkhag court, the lawyer submitted that the OC and the elder sister of the husband had a personal issue related to purchase of a land in Gelephu. “It is apparent that the husband’s arrest is connected to a personal grudge,” he submitted.

The husband was arrested while the OC was officiating as the Superintendent of Police in Gelephu. The lawyer claimed that the police arrested the husband without following due process of law.

The lawyer submitted that the husband was detained 17 days after his wife’s arrest when the police called him to the police station without formally issuing an arrest warrant.

“When the husband was detained, a school-going girl was left alone at home. He was arrested without any inquiry or consideration about the well-being and care of their children,” it stated.

He also alleged the police of confiscating the hotel’s operating license without due process of the law.  “As a result, the hotel had to shut down leading to huge financial losses, including the monthly rent of Nu 110,000,” it stated.

The defendants are demanding compensation for the losses suffered during the hotel closure and urged the court to expedite the hotel license’s return to prevent further loss.

“In business-related matters, only the person with the business license should be detained. If the issue is from an individual, the appropriate action is to seize the business license, not necessarily detaining both the couple,” stated the representative.

Meanwhile, the defendants also stated that all five alleged prostitutes willingly engaged in sexual activities as consenting adults, and they were never encouraged to participate in the prostitution business.

On the sharing of profits, they claimed that the charges were associated with the use of the hotel, as the hotel depends on logistics and food services.

The defendants also refuted running a brothel, saying that the services provided are those of a hotel and not meant to promote prostitution.

They also alleged that the husband’s head was shaved “like a prisoner” while in detention for investigation. The wife faced mistreatment leading to frequent panic attacks during the solitary confinement.

“The on-duty police called the husband to bring Nu 5,000 to conduct a ritual for his wife in detention. However, when he arrived with the money, another on-duty police informed him that they do not accept cash,” the respondent said.

OAG’s petition

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) submitted a petition to the Gelephu court to impose a misdemeanor prison sentence ranging from one to three years for the promotion of prostitution to earn income.

According to the OAG, the hotel owner employed a 30-year-old woman as a prostitute, who was initially recruited as the hotel manager. Three additional women were also employed and encouraged to provide prostitution services.

The petition stated that the hotel owner promoted prostitution by showing photos of women to Indian clients coming for such services. Clients were charged Nu 3,000 each, with Nu 1,000 going to the hotel owner and Nu 2,000 given to each prostitute, according to OAG.

“The husband was aware of his wife’s involvement in a prostitution business and also participated in providing prostitution services in her absence,” the submission stated. “He charged Nu 2,500 for the services, providing Nu 1,500 to the prostitute, and keeping Nu 1,000 for himself.”

To generate income, according to the OAG, the couple operated a prostitution racket within their hotel, hiring prostitutes and encouraging them to provide prostitution services.

According to Section 375 of the Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004, a defendant is considered guilty of the offense of promotion of prostitution if they own, lease, control, manage, supervise a brothel, or engage in any activity that involves keeping a prostitution business.