… Thimphu dzongkhag court acquits Penjore Penjore of the charges

Thinley Namgay    

Thimphu dzongkhag court’s criminal bench II yesterday dismissed the defamation case police filed against a businessman, Penjore last November.

RBP charged Penjore last year for allegedly defaming the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The court ruled that the information written by Penjore on his Facebook account was not fake and that his posts were in the interest of the public.

The judgment states that Penjore has posted the truth on Facebook about the case where OAG dismissed the allegation on the Bhutan National Bank Limited’s (BNBL) executive committee members. The police investigation report revealed that BNBL executive committee members were involved in the unlawful recruitment of 12 supporting staff at the BNBL in 2017.

The court says that Penjore as an individual has the right to reveal the truth.

On May 4, 2021, Penjore posted “Shocking Bigger Crime at Bhutan’s OAG level- A guilty Secret Cheating Case through Collusion- A National Shame” on his Facebook account “Penjore Penjore”. He asked the Attorney General (AG) and BNBL officials to resign over the staff recruitment. He wrote on Facebook based on the 2020 BBS story.

The lapses in the staff recruitment were found by the Royal Audit Authority during auditing. The case was then forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) which after its investigation sent the report to the police. Police sent it to the OAG.

The 12 supporting staff who were recruited by the BNBL in 2017 produced fake class VIII certificates.  The BNBL management made them resign. However, no action was taken against BNBL executives by the OAG.

Police arrested and detained Penjore in May 2021 for 16 days before the OAG charged him for sedition. Penjore claimed compensation for his arrest. However, the Court ruled out that Penjore will not get the compensation as police arrested him to investigate the case.

The police quoted some parts of Penjore’s May 4 post in the court: “DANGEROUS and greater corruption happening in the OAG. Bhutan completely into now converting Bhutan as a complete lawless county in the eyes of the World. Monstrous Wrongdoing of OAG is not corrected immediately.”

The Police claimed that Penjore’s post misinformed a large number of people. “People have defamed the OAG on social media. There is a possibility that people will not trust the OAG. The reputation of the OAG was affected.”

However, Penjore submitted in the court that BNBL executive officials should be held accountable for failure to report the crime and official misconduct.

Police also claimed that the defendant should pay compensation to the OAG based on the national wage rate, ranging from a minimum a year to a maximum of three years. However, the court dismissed the claim based on the truth expressed by Penjore.

The dzongkhag court dismissed the OAG’s sedition case against Penjore on June 18 last year.