The High Court’s (HC) bench I fully reversed the judgment of the military court in Lungtenphu and acquitted Major Jurmi of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) yesterday.
The military court sentenced him to one year and six months in prison for embezzling Nu 174,343 while conducting the sixth desuung training programme for two weeks.
The HC ruled that the amount he was convicted of embezzling was used to give cash prizes during ad-hoc programmes, procure prohibited items like hornet, smoked fish, alcohol both local and imported on the order of the superiors for guests.
“Although these items were not procured legally, it has been adjusted in all the desuung programmes. In accordance to section 66 of the Evidence Act, it is a routine habit and it is not proven that Major Jurmi had embezzled the money,” the judgment stated.
It also stated that the prosecutors could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant has embezzled the money.
The court ruled that the acquittal was according to section 204 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan (CCPC), which states, “Where guilt beyond reasonable doubt has not been established to the Court’s satisfaction for the charge, the defendant shall be acquitted and released and have the conditions of his/her bail terminated.”
Major Jurmi appealed to the HC on December 22 last year stating that he had adjusted and not embezzled the amount give cash soelras to the RBA women group for entertainment, as budget to procure alcohol and dhar for two archery matches, prizes for band coy and rafting team, to procure the prohibited items, and for catering expenses during the inaugural sessions.
He was alleged of adjusting Nu 50,000 on grocery items from JD Tshongkhang, Nu 97,088 from Karna Bahadur on vegetables and fruits and Nu 27,255 from meat and fish.
Major Jurmi alleged that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officials even considered the TDS and amount from returned items as embezzled.
The RBA prosecutors contended that the defendant had reflected Nu 494,472 as spent on meat, fish, vegetables and fruits from Karna Bahadur. Karna Bahadur had given a statement to ACC that he got only Nu 470,129.
The prosecutors also submitted before the court that Major Jurmi had admitted to ACC of adjusting Nu 50,000 from JD Tshongkhag and Nu 124,343 from Karna Bahadur.
The judgment stated that the court had reviewed the case comprehensively and found that ACC and the lower court did not deduct the Nu 19,231 Major Jurmi paid for TDS and Nu 23,027 from returned items from the fund shortage.
“The court also found that ACC and the lower court did not verify and confirm if people were paid the soelras and if the restricted and prohibited items were procured.”
It stated that when the court conducted a thorough review, it found that the cash prizes were given and restricted items bought in all desuung programmes as per the order of the superiors.
The judgment also stated that it was proven that major Jurmi had spent all funds for desuung and had not embezzled any amount.
Meanwhile, the court also acquitted vendors Thinley Jamtsho and Karna Bahadur, who were convicted by the lower court.
The judgment stated that the vendors adjusted the bills for desuung but did not benefit from the adjusted amount.