Claiming it was for public interest

Thinley Namgay

Penjore submitted his rebuttal against the defamation case at Thimphu dzongkhag court’s Criminal Bench II on December 13.

In the first hearing on November 23, the police charged Penjore of accusing the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of not charging the Bhutan National Bank (BNB) officials in question, despite their official misconduct during staff recruitment.

Police also charged Penjore for spreading misinformation.

In the rebuttal on December 13, Penjore said he didn’t circulate any misinformation about the OAG or other offices.

He said the information shared on Facebook was intended for the public based on the Penal Code of Bhutan’s section 318 (A). “I shared my opinion after reading the media’s information and it was not written with bad intentions.”

According to Penjore, the OAG had misunderstood the post and accused him of defamation based on a certain portion of his post. “The accusation was an injustice.”

Penjore said there were lapses in the BNB management and he wrote about fixing accountability. “It is not defamation.”

In May, the police arrested and detained Penjore for 16 days before the OAG charged him for sedition. The dzongkhag court dismissed the OAG’s sedition case against Penjore on June 18.

“After the dismissal of the sedition case, the OAG accused me of defamation, which is harassment,” Penjore said. “I was detained for 16 days, which is against fundamental human rights, and the relevant authorities should be held accountable.”

Thimphu Dzongkhag Court’s chief judge conducted a miscellaneous hearing for the police’s defamation case on November 9 and the case has been assigned to the court’s Bench II.