Is reporting false information a crime? Yes, it is, and the guilty must suffer consequences. According to the Penal Code of Bhutan, a person shall be guilty of the offence of reporting false information if he or she knowingly reports false information to a lawful authority with the intent to deceive that authority. Having committed the crime so, the person could be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a minimum of which shall be one month and a maximum of which shall be less than one year.

Thimphu police has said that, henceforward, any person reporting false information would be dealt accordingly. This is a welcome decision because some irresponsible people seem to be making calls to the police every now and then to give false information. Recently, Thimphu police got two such calls. On October 16, a boy filed a complaint with the police saying that he was robbed of his personal effects by a group of boys at Chubachu, Thimphu. Nothing of that sort had actually happened to anyone there. A couple of days later, two private security guards from Bjimena called the police and filed a report that a group of men walked into the industrial estate area and attacked them. Here too, nothing like what the security guards relayed to the police had occurred.

A person may make a false police report for any number of reasons – to get oneself out of trouble, in order to make an innocent party appear guilty. In both the recent cases, the police found that the complainants had ulterior motives. The boy had tried to escape reprimand from parents for coming home late. The security guards had a fight while on duty but did not want the management to dress them down. Their main fear was that if the management came to know that could lose their job.

But then, there is a need to look at the problem in the bigger perspective. Some offices continue to get such call, many of which can be termed as prank. And such condemnable acts by some reckless people seem to be rampant. A government office recently received a call only to be told that the caller wanted to order a meal for five, Shakam Datshi, Bjasha Maru, Nyagi Kangchu (fish trotter) all included. Of course, there was no follow-up call to the office.

The decision of the police to deal appropriately with people who give misinformation is a step in the right direction. What such calls can do is disrupt the function of official responsibility and demean the office or person to whom such irresponsible people relay their information. The decision of the police could help create awareness about the law among the people and possible repercussions that they could face.