OAG seeks exemplary punishment against those who sexually exploit children

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) cited three grounds for appeal against Gelephu drungkhag court’s January 14 judgment on the teacher who was convicted for molesting six students.

The OAG stated that section 192 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan mandates separate liability for a separate offence.

“The defendant had molested six female students at different times and occasions, including the offence of attempting to rape one of them,” a press release from OAG stated. “Hence, the prosecution had charged the defendant for one count of attempt of rape of child above 12 years of age and seven counts of child molestation.”

OAG also stated that the defendant, Bharat Sanyasi, is liable for each proven offence consecutively and the judgment should not be a concurrent sentence of only four years and six months.

It stated that under section 203 and 204 of the Penal Code, each molestation count is liable for imprisonment from three to five years and attempt to rape a minor above 12 years of age is liable for an imprisonment term from five years to nine years under Sections 183 read with Section 120 of the Penal Code. “Hence, even minimum sentence should compute to 26 years of imprisonment as there is a habitual pattern of criminal mindset in the defendant.”

The OAG also stated that the victims provided statements to the court to prove the defendant’s every count of offence in person, corroborated by other students and parents in whom the victims had confided their distress in person.

“Hence, the credibility of primary evidence could not be more conclusive nor the judgment observed any paucity in it,” the appeal letter stated. “It is important to note that even articulations with sexual innuendo could tantamount to molestation by popular definition.”

OAG also stated that molesting students who were subject to his assessment for their academic performances and attempting to rape one of them, who had to run away in the middle of that night from the defendant’s house, clearly establishes a habitual pattern of criminal mindset in the defendant.  “Hence, the circumstances need further previous conviction record to award him the rightful punishment prescribed by the applicable law.”

It stated that it was the defendant who had consumed alcohol on his own would and not the alcohol that consumed him beyond his control. “Thus, the defendant is liable for his own acts post alcohol consumption. If a court of law admits such unsustainable grounds as an admissible defence, it can only bold others with similar mindsets to commit similar offences against our own tender children.”

Bharat Sanyasi has been teaching at Umling Lower Secondary School in Gelephu since 2013. The victims are class six female students and the defendant taught them English and IT subjects. At the time of the incident, the victims were 12 to 17 years old.

OAG had charged the defendant for one count of rape of child above 12 years of age and seven counts of different child molestations.

Gelephu drungkhag court gave a concurrent sentence term of four years and six months to the defendant for all the eight different counts of offences proven by the prosecution.

As a basis for its judgment, the court cited the absence of prior conviction records of the defendant for similar crimes and that the offences were committed under the influence of alcohol.

Attorney general, Shera Lhundup, said that the state seeks retributive justice on behalf of the aggrieved victims and the punishment given must satisfy not only the traumatised victims but also serve security interest of the public members.

He said that down the ages, the teaching profession has acclaimed its nobility and the learning institutions are incubating social-nests for inculcating moral values and integrity in the mental characters of students. “When the very teacher embarks on sexually exploiting his own students who are at his mercy for their academic assessments, it defecates that exulted fiduciary duty and betrays the very trust and confidence reposed in the teachers by the parents and public members alike.”

He also said that with increasing instances of similar offences being reported like Bjimina School case, exemplary punishment is the compelling deterrent measure that the prosecution craves from our courts to protect tender citizens in distressful situations.

Tashi Dema

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