Thimphu Police detained a man yesterday after the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) initiated a legal action against him pertaining to defamatory posts on social media.
The accused is the former litigant in the case between Bhutan National Bank and Penjore.
According to the OAG, the man, under the alias ‘Penjore Penjore’ on social media, posted defamatory posts consistently over the years against public officials and institutions of repute that fulfil judicial, quasi-judicial and other functions, including the OAG on Facebook.
OAG in a press release stated that the accused was warned by the Court in 2015 that contempt proceedings would be initiated against him if he continued to make unsubstantiated allegations and obstruct lawful authorities.
It stated that the OAG determines that there was a prima facie case of having communicated false and distorted information against the said officials and institutions, which falls within the purview of defamation, libel, contempt of judicial authorities, and other charges under section 317, 320, 331(e) and other relevant provisions of law and the Penal Code of Bhutan.
The intentional and malicious attacks from the man against officials and institutions through the medium of social media, according to OAG was carried out with the purpose to mislead and distort facts.
The press release stated that the online contents that are accessible to both national and global users resulted in hatred, alarm, distrust, and anxiety towards the functioning of the state machinery and the Rule of Law. “It has become imperative for the Office to pursue timely legal interventions to restrain the individual from acting with impunity that causes damage and erosion of public trust in the state institutions.”
Legal practitioners are, however, questioning the legality of OAG’s action. While some questioned if OAG can both be the complainant and the prosecutors, others said there should be a complainant in the case and OAG cannot take suo moto action.
Many social media users are also questioning the press release circulated without any dates.