The High Court’s (HC) bench one upheld four lower court judgments involving five people and increased sentences for two others for the illicit transaction of Spasmoproxyvon plus (SP+).

The court increased the sentence for Jigme Dorji, 32, from Kanglung in Trashigang to nine years from lower court’s sentence of five years and six months.

Jigme Dorji was arrested on December 25 last year in Thimphu when police raided a house and found a bag containing 8,640 pieces of SP+ after a person arrested with controlled substances told them that he bought the substances from him.

The defendant appealed to the HC saying that although the bag containing the controlled substance was found in a friend’s house, he was charged for the crime.

Jigme Dorji also submitted that the lower court accepted the witness statement of his friend’s wife and niece.

The HC stated that the court was not only convinced that the 8,640 pieces of SP+ belongsed to Jigme Dorji, but it was also found that he had been selling the controlled substance.

The court said that although the ingredients of SP+, dicyclomine, tramadol, hydrochloride and acetaminophen are not listed as banned substance in the Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substances Abuse Act of Bhutan (NDPSSA) 2015, pharmacists have confirmed that it contains opiate when Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA) consulted them.

The HC justified that the sentence was increased to uphold the principle of proportionality in sentencing based on the degree of the crime committed.

“The present Parliament members, in the second National Assembly session, called for stricter penal provisions as the increasing incidences of drug use and abuse is causing problem in the society,” the verdict stated.

The court also increased the sentence for Ngawang Thinley from Khaling in Trashigang, who was convicted to five years in prison by Chukha district court.

The verdict stated that his sentence was increased to seven years since he was found in possession of 1,451 pieces of SP+.

The HC upheld Chukha district court’s sentencing of five years imprisonment for Rinchen Tshering from Thimphu.

The police, while patrolling the highway, found Rinchen Tshering in possession of 146 pieces of SP+ and 47 pieces of N10.

Rinchen Tshering appealed to the HC that tramadol is not listed as banned in NDPSSA 2015 and cited the example of ketamine case, where Office of Attorney General (OAG) did not prosecute the woman, who was caught in Bangkok, Thailand.

The court ruled that all opiate substances are opioid and that methadone and oxycodone are included as an opiate, which is included in NDPSSA 2015.

The court also ruled that in the case of ketamine, OAG justified that the incident took place in Bangkok and the woman was sentenced in Bangkok. “It cannot be used as a precedent.”

The court also upheld the Thimphu district court’s five years and six months imprisonment term for Jigme, 29, from Tongzhang in Trashiyangtse.

Jigme was charged for being in possession of 72 pieces of SP+. He was arrested on June 9, 2016.

The HC also upheld the verdict for Kinley Dorji, 26, from Thimphu. Chukha court sentenced him to five years in prison.

Police found him with 68 pieces of SP+ in Tsimasham while he was returning from Phuentsholing.

The HC also upheld the Chukha district court verdict for Tashi Tobgay, 26, from Kanglung in Trashigang and Lekden Dorji, 24, from Khoma in Lhuntse. Chukha court sentenced them to five years in prison.

Police in Tsimasham found Tashi Tobgay in possession of 271 pieces of SP+ and Lekden Dorji with 47 pieces concealed in their underwear on October 19 last year. They were travelling from Phuentsholing to Thimphu.

The HC also upheld the Chukha district court’s verdict for Kinley Dorji, 33, from Paro. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He was arrested on September 6, 2016, from Tsimasham for possessing 192 pieces of SP+.

Tashi Dema