Neten Dorji

Trashigang—On May 9, Trashigang’s dzongkhag court has convicted Namgyel Wangdi, a 40-year-old gup of Phongmey, for raping a minor over 12 years old and causing her pregnancy.

He has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. However, since the gup served two months and 22 days in detention at the Trashigang police station, his remaining sentence is now 10 years, nine months, and eight days.

The gup has also ordered to pay a compensation of Nu 2,25,000 to the victim within one month for “degrading and violating dignity” and “intimidation and harassment”, as per sections 36 and 39 of the Penal Code of Bhutan.

Section 36 states: “A Court may order a defendant to pay appropriate damages or reparation for any loss, injury, or deterioration caused to a victim.” 

The victim was 14 years old at the time of the incident.

The gup was found guilty of violating section 183 of the amended Penal Code of Bhutan 2011, which states: “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of rape of a child above the age of twelve years if the defendant commits any act of sexual intercourse against a child between the ages of twelve to eighteen years.”

The offence is graded a second-degree felony with a prison term ranging from nine years to 15 years.

The judgment revealed that when the victim visited the hospital on November 8, she discovered she was three months pregnant. Upon informing the gup about her pregnancy, he denied responsibility and attributed it to a man named Namgyel Tshewang.

After the gup found out about the pregnancy, he had asked Namgyel Tshewang to marry the girl on November 11 of last year.

The judgement also stated that Namgyel Tshewang later asked the victim about the child’s father around a month after they started living together.

“Upon learning that Namgyel Wangdi was the father of the child, the victim’s parents inquired about it, and he reportedly acknowledged the situation. The gup took steps to ensure the child’s welfare, address the concerns of the victim, and compensated Nu 300,000,” the judgment states.

The dzongkhag court has ordered the reimbursement of Nu 300,000 to the government account within a week, as it is related to criminal proceedings.

The court learned that the Khenpo of Goenpa and Namgyel Wangdi, parents of Namgyel Tshewang and the parents of the victim arranged the marriage, which is deemed a criminal activity.

However, the court could not convict others as the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has only filed criminal cases against the gup.

“The OAG must file related criminal cases as per Section 187 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan 2021 in the future,” the judgement states. 

The court also instructed the Office of the Attorney General to file a separate case under the Marriage Act of Bhutan to determine benefits once the baby is born.

Both parties have the option to appeal to the higher court within 10 days of the judgement.