Samtse dzongkhag court yesterday acquitted Tendu gup Nima Dukpa in a gambling case that took place at a picnic on December 31, 2017. 

On July 18, Sipsu dungkhag court had handed Nima Dukpa, who is also the chairman of Samtse Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT), a prison term of one month for playing cards. However, the gup appealed to the dzongkhag court with the help of a Thimphu-based private lawyer, Sonam Dhendup. 

The judgment states the DT chairman had played “two hands” in place of another without putting any money at stake and that such an act does not amount to gambling according to Section 204 of the Penal Code. 

“There is no evidence of money being put at stake by Nima Dukpa,” the judgment states.

However, the district court upheld a prison term of two months each to the five other defendants issued by Sipsu dungkhag court, stating that they had staked Nu 500. 

Nima Dukpa and the five defendants – Nanda Raj Gurung, Damber Singh Gurung, Kumar Gurung, Jit Bahadur Gurung, and Ganesh Gurung from Samtse – were found playing cards at Kaching ECCD centre in Tendu.

The gewog’s former gup, Pema Wangchuk, had complained the matter to police with video evidence on March 2 this year.

The five defendants had argued in the district court that they were unaware of any law making playing of cards illegal. However, the court ruled that they could not be acquitted based on their lack of knowledge of the law. 

“I am happy with the judgment because I know I have not committed a crime. I am learning and becoming strong to serve my people even better,” Nima Dukpa told Kuensel.

The judgment stated that the defendants could pay thrimthue in lie of the prison term. The defendants were convicted as per Section 393 and 394 of Penal Code of Bhutan for petty misdemeanour.

The police report, according to him, showed that he had played without a monetary stake. The defendants he said are his maternal uncles.

Section 31 of the local government Act states that a member of a local government shall be removed if he is convicted for a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment.

MB Subba