The man will, however be imprisoned for cannabis trafficking

Paro dzongkhag court ordered a 27-year-old man to pay Nu 225,000 in lieu of five years prison term for illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Sonam Tobgay from Drujeydingkha in Shaba, Paro, was found guilty of concealing 3,457 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon Plus (SP+) in the spare wheel of his bolero. He was caught on June 2 this year.

He benefitted from the Supreme Court (SC) ruling of July 26, which stated that all those convicted to date or those in the process of going to trial in the SP+ related cases could pay penalty in lieu of prison terms.

The Penal Code’s section 28 on Thrimthue states, “Except for the recidivist and accustomed or habitual offender, the court may make an order to pay fine in lieu of imprisonment if the offence is not a felony.”

Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged Sonam Tobgay for illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, which is graded a third-degree felony with prison terms ranging from five years to nine years. The court rendered him the minimum sentencing.

Sonam Tobgay was, however, sentenced to two years, 11 months and 16 days in prison for concealing 100gms of cannabis in the spare wheels.

He was found guilty of violating section 133 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act 2015 (NDPSSAA 2015), which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of an offence of illicit trafficking of cannabis and its derivatives, regardless of the degree of purity, if he or she imports, exports, stores, sells, purchases, transports, distributes, or supplies cannabis or its derivatives if it is more than the quantity determined in Schedule VII of this Act.”

The judgment stated that although the crime is graded a fourth-degree felony and he was imprisoned for three years in prison, the sentence was reduced because he didn’t have a criminal record.

Meanwhile, although the OAG attorney charged Norbu Tamang, 22, from Jaigoan, the bordering Indian town, for aiding and abetting Sonam Tobgay since he had confessed to police, both verbally and in writing, that he showed Sonam Tobgay where the controlled substances could be bought, the court convicted him for abusing the drugs, as he abused two capsules from Sonam Tobgay.

The judgement stated that he was acquitted since he claimed before the court that he was not aware of the concealed substances and that he had hitched a ride with Sonam Tobgay. “Sonam Tobgay also submitted before the court that Norbu Tamang is innocent.”

The court, however, stated that the term he served in custody since his arrest on June 3 until November 30 should serve his sentence for abusing the drug.

Tashi Dema