A Thimphu-based lawyer, Sonam Dhendup, will contest the upcoming National Council (NC) elections from Pemagatshel.

The 36-year-old from Nanong Gewog said it was the shortcomings in the existing laws and the inability of Parliament to address them that prompted him to enter the race.

Sonam Dhendup, who previously worked with the Anti-Corruption Commission, works with Nyinda Legal Consultancy. He holds a BA.LL.B from the University of Calcutta, India and a diploma in National Law from Royal Institute of Management.

The aspiring candidate said that making laws was not an easy task.

He said one must be well acquainted with theories of laws and punishment to be a good lawmaker and be able to recognise what he or she is intending to achieve of it.

“I am contesting with a solid educational background in law and rich experience as a practicing lawyer.”

Sonam Dhendup said that he came across many law provisions that invite immediate amendments.

He said the definition of rape under Section 177 of the Penal Code (amendment) Act 2011 was totally absurd.

He explained that there are certain conditions such as whether or not the sexual act was forceful or whether it was done after intoxicating the victim to term it as rape.  However, he said the penal code defined a sexual intercourse of any nature as rape.

Also, Section 183 of the penal code, which according to him permitted consensual sex between a minor above the age of 16 years and below 18 years had failed to serve the intended purpose.

Sonam Dhendup also said that the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015, which was amended by the recently concluded session, needed further amendments. He said that not only was the punishment monstrous, the principle of law of proportionality was not considered in the provisions of the Act.

“Such absurdity in the provisions of our laws is a concern for all of us. I am contesting to become a lawmaker,” he said.

Sonam Dhendup successfully fought the Spasmo Proxyvon Plus (SP+) case earlier this year where a Supreme Court judgement led to letting off of 554 detainees.

“To convict without having recognised it as an offence was against rule of law. I took up the case without any fee,” he said.

Sonam Dhendup is confident the people of his constituency would assess the key areas of expertise of candidates.

Sonam Dhendup is currently on a familiarisation tour in his dzongkhag.

MB Subba