He wants to appeal to Supreme Court   

Thinley Namgay    

The High Court (HC) dismissed Penjore’s appeal for compensation in a defamation case against the police yesterday.

The court upheld the Thimphu dzongkhag court’s judgment and denied compensation.

Penjore says he wants to appeal to the Supreme Court seeking compensation,  official misconduct and failure to report a crime by the  Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Bhutan National Bank Limited’s (BNBL) officials.

Penjore appealed to the HC in June this year requesting for compensation from police for detaining him for 16 days and for the official misconduct and failure to report the crime by the OAG and the  BNBL executive committee members.

HC’s judgment stated that the Constitution guarantees the right to every Bhutanese to express the truth about the government, agency and department.

“The reputation of government institutions is of diminished interest and public in nature,” the judgment stated, adding that even if the information is wrongly disseminated, there is room to correct it.

The HC’s judgment said the legal representative of the police couldn’t provide reasonable justification in both the courts on how the defamatory post of Penjore has affected the OAG and BNBL officials.

Regarding not penalising BNBL officials by the OAG, the HC says that OAG couldn’t find out whether BNBL officials knew the documents were fake or not. “The documents of RAA, BNBL and its regional offices were not matching. There was no conflict of interest between BNBL officials and the applicants.”

HC said that Penjore does not have enough evidence to prove that the officials should be punished. “OAG has the right to verify the documents sent by police.”

As per the HC, Penjore won’t get the compensation as the detention was solely for the investigation. “Moreover, there is no effect on his body and the amount of compensation wasn’t mentioned.”

On May 4 last year, Penjore posted on his Facebook page a write-up: “Shocking Bigger Crime at Bhutan’s OAG level- A guilty Secret Cheating Case through Collusion- A National Shame”. He asked the Attorney General  and BNBL officials to resign over the staff recruitment case that was reported in the local media.

The Royal Audit Authority during auditing found lapses in staff recruitment. The case was then forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission  which after its investigation sent the report to the police. Police sent it to the OAG.

The 12 supporting staff who were recruited by the BNBL in 2017 produced fake class VIII certificates. The BNBL management made them resign. No action was taken against BNBL executives by the OAG.

Police arrested and detained Penjore in May 2021 for 16 days before the OAG charged him for sedition. The Thimphu Dzongkhag Court acquitted him. Then the police charged him for defaming the OAG in November last year.

Thimphu dzongkhag court on May 31 this year acquitted him saying that the information he wrote on his Facebook account was not fake. “His posts were in the interest of the public.”

Penjore claimed compensation for his arrest. However, the dzongkhag court ruled out that Penjore will not get the compensation as police arrested him to investigate the case.