Gelephu court deferred RBA ‘chilli powder’ case

Verdict: The Gelephu dungkhag court has deferred the case of the two Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) soldiers’ wives who filed a case against deydrim Dorji for defamation and official misconduct.

According to the verdict that was passed in November 2015, the two women could not prove any of the allegations they made against deydrim Dorji.

Plaintiff Dawa Zangmo and Mindu Wangmo had alleged deydrim Dorji of locking them inside an office and spreading chilli powder mixed with water on them on August 7, 2015, which they argued was against human rights. He was also alleged for calling them ‘prostitutes’.

While the allegation of Dorji calling them ‘prostitutes’ could not be proved, the defendant had said that he had cautioned the two women that other people could call them ‘prostitutes’ if they misbehaved.

Dawa Zangmo and Mindu Wangmo also could not prove the defendant defaming them, states the verdict.

The verdict states that the two women also accused Dorji of throwing them out of the RBA family line and discontinuing their ration quota.

According to the verdict, the defendant had instead accused the two women of lying about the chilli powder incident and providing false information on social media, which defamed him.

The two women had said that other soldiers’ wives at the family line had heard Dorji calling them prostitutes. They also had named a witness but they could not produce any witness and submitted a ‘No’ witness form to the court.  Although Dorji accepted that he had used the word ‘prostitutes’ he said it was used to caution them. He also however could not produce witnesses.

Meanwhile, the verdict also stated that going by the accusation and allegations from the two women and the defendant, the case should have been a criminal case and not a civil that could be registered with the court without routing through Royal Bhutan Police.

The verdict states the case should have been reported to police for investigation. In a criminal case, as per section 161.3 of the Penal Code, the police should act according to the complaint and provide necessary evidence through investigation.

Since the case was registered to the court as a civil case, the court did not find it necessary to investigate the allegation made by the plaintiff on official misconduct and the fight between the plaintiff and the defendant, the verdict states.

The case was deferred according to section 156 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan. Section 156 states that ‘upon a finding of circumstantial evidence not amounting to proof beyond reasonable doubt, the case may be deferred’.

The court ruled out any compensation for the defamation. A 10 days time was provided for the two women to appeal to higher court but it was learnt that they did not appeal.

Nima Wangdi

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