Thinley Namgay 

High Court’s bench III upheld Samtse dzongkhag court’s judgment that sentenced a former schoolteacher in Samtse, Yog Raj Puri, 60, to four years and six months in prison for child molestation and harassment.

The judgment, which was rendered on May 19, stated that although the Office of Attorney General (OAG) charged Yog Raj Puri for statutory rape, molestation and harassment of a 11-year-old girl on the pretext of giving her tuition, he was sentenced only for child molestation and harassment, as statutory rape could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

The charges for statutory rape was deferred.

Samtse dzongkhag court’s judgment stated that the rape charges had to be deferred, as there was blood and forensic report that confirms the rape although medical reports showed other evidence of rape. It stated that activities like cycling and other physical activities could cause the other evidence.

The incident happened over a period of a year in 2018 when Yog Raj Puri was teaching the student in school and also after school but was reported to police only in 2019 after the child suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was referred to the national referral hospital from Samtse hospital.

The student was actually a school topper and scored 97 percent once but her academic performance worsened, she suddenly started bedwetting, showed mood swings, was oversleeping and started withdrawing from friends and family.

The mother, noticing the strange behaviour in her child, took her to Samtse hospital where the health officials diagnosed her of low blood count. She then brought her daughter to the national referral hospital during the mid-term break that year, where doctors referred the child to psychiatrists.

The child confided to psychiatrists that the teacher, who is a neighbour and taught her tuition for free, sexually abused her multiple times after calling her for tuition. The girl told psychiatrists that she couldn’t share about the abuse to her mother, as she was scared of her mother. There were incidents when the student refused to go for tuition, the teacher would mark her correct answers wrong and gave negative remarks. He threatened the victim of failing her in the exam if she shared about the incidents.

Psychiatrists from the national referral hospital on July 18 referred the case to National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), who took up the case and forwarded it to police.

Police investigation recovered letters the teacher wrote to the student after he superannuated.

Yog Raj Puri was sentenced for child molestation and harassment, as he was found guilty of molesting the child in school in front of her friends and also at his home when the girl came for English tuition when his wife was not at home.

Defendant Yog Raj Puri appealed to the High Court, reasoning that he was a diabetic for 20 years and cannot rape a child. He also claimed that he should not be convicted based on the incident reported after a year.

The defendant claimed he gave free tuition to the student.

After the case surfaced, the accused requested the victim’s family to resolve the case amicably and when they did not listen, he threatened to kill them and burn their house.

The court also ordered the defendant to pay a compensation of Nu 100, 000 to the victim.