Defense counsel labels DPT case ‘cantankerous litigation’

 Libel:Dasho Paljor J Dorji’s defense counsel rebutted Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’s (DPT) evidence, and submitted his evidence to prove his client’s comment on Facebook to be true, yesterday.

Submitting his evidence to Thimphu district court’s bench V, the defence counsel moved the court to declare DPT’s suit as cantankerous litigation.

Defence lawyer Younten Dorji said DPT had not submitted any evidence, as to how the statement had caused damage to the party, and thus failed to prove any of the accusations made against his client, and must therefore be held liable for cantankerous litigation under section 371 of the penal code.

“We ask the party to pay the defendant commensurate compensation for undue harassment, mental trauma, loss of time and resources,” Younten Dorji said.

Dasho Paljor J Dorji, alias Benji, had commented on Facebook, “After having robbed the country blind, DPT has the gumption to raise its voice?”

DPT’s stand was that the defendant should either prove the statement or apologise publicly.

Younten Dorji drew on a series of controversies during the tenure of DPT government to prove that his client’s statement was true.

He cited the Bhutan Lottery closure, Trowa Theater land case, Denchi land compensation, Education City Project, and the attempt to amend the Land Act 2007, among others, as instances of corruption and the party robbing the country.

He asked the court to order the finance ministry to reveal how many vehicle quotas were used, imported and then sold to whom at what prices by the DPT ministers during its tenure.

Lawyer Younten Dorji sought compensation for tarnishing his client’s public image, and that the party should restitute any undue loss or cost incurred by the state because of DPT’s misuse or illegality of actions.

He asked the court to order the finance ministry to submit the records of expenditure incurred by the DPT government on the undue perks and privileges enjoyed by cabinet members during its tenure, the expenditure incurred by sending its people on medical treatment abroad, the extra cost incurred for the discriminatory Denchi land compensation, and the likely compensatory cost the government may incur for closing down the Education City Project, due to unlawful lease contracted by the plaintiff government.

Younten Dorji said that the party should produce the royal decree that gave the Prados as soelra to the ministers.  He said that a political party or an amorphous group cannot sustain a defamatory suit against an individual for exercising his or her fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The defence lawyer also asked the court to order agencies for reports, and to testify on the claims made by his client.  The lawyer asked the court to summon the video recording of DPT’s July 19, 2013 convention, and hold DPT guilty and liable for the commission of sedition, usurpation of the royal prerogative, and violations of laws, among others.

“There were many such critical posts, but why did the party pick out my client?” the lawyer said.

Representing DPT, Drametse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said the other commenters were anonymous.

He maintained that the sedition and usurpation of royal prerogative charges be dismissed, as they were irrelevant to the case.  He said the matters related to the July 19 party convention were submitted to His Majesty and resolved.

He said that the defendant should submit concrete proof and not depend on the court to issue summon orders or collect evidences.

“If the party had sent people on medical treatment illegally, their names should be produced,” he said.

He said that the case couldn’t be cantankerous, because the party had suffered damages, and could also hamper its future chances in politics.

The next hearing is on April 23.

By Tshering Palden

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