No one is above the law irrespective of the status

The Kuensel reported that “police officer beats two farmers in Zhemgang”. The “case was mutually resolved.”  His Majesty once said, “democracy can only flourish if all Bhutanese uphold the rule of law.” His Majesty also said, Drugyel Zhipa’s foremost beliefs was “the rule of law” because the “failure of justice persecutes an individual, but the lack of adherence to rule of law persecutes an entire nation.” 

Kuensel further reported that the case was reported to the Gewog Administration. The reason for beating the farmers was not wearing the helmet,  violating the Road Safety and Transport Authority Act and Rules. Beating the farmers not only discredits the image of police but also raises the authority of the police.

First, the Section 39 of the Police Act of Bhutan 2009 states that while carrying out their duty, every Police shall “observe the highest standards of conduct, uphold the human rights of all persons while performing their duty.” Further, the Act requires that a police officer must be polite and tolerant.” 

The  Section 79, 80, and 81 mention that the “use of force by the police shall be “regulated entirely by the provisions of the law” based on the principle or objective to “quell a disturbance of the peace, or to disperse an unlawful assembly,” refusing to disperse or resisting a lawful arrest or attempting to escape or other circumstances.   

Article 7(1) and 7(15) of the Constitution and Section 3 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code ensures that everyone is equal before the law and shall not be deprived of any rights except in accordance with the due process of law. Section 171.3 of the CCPC also mentions that “a police may use reasonable force to break into premises if the police are refused entry after identification as an agent of the law.” This means every force used by the police must be within the authorities of the law. 

 Beating a person amounts to either aggravated assault or battery. Both assault and battery are criminal offence under Section 156 and 158 of the Penal Code of Bhutan. 

The report states that the case was reported to the Gewog Administration. Therefore, first under Section 430 of the PCB, every person has the duty to report the crime to lawful authority and failure is a criminal offence. 

Second, under Section 165 of the CCPC, abusing or physically assaulting another person is a cognizable offence and can be arrested without a warrant. 

And Section 167 authorizes the citizens to arrest a person who has committed or intends to commit a criminal offence and handover to the police. 

Finally, if a complaint is made against a police, under Section 86 of the Police Act, the Chief of Police must constitute a committee to enquire the complaints and carry out an investigation and actions against the erring official under Section 88 of the Act.  

All these laws ensure that police exercise their authorities within the limits of the law.  

As His Majesty said, the “rule of law begets discipline, which in turn begets order, and peace, which leads to trust and stability.”

Sonam Tshering

Lawyer, Thimphu

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.

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