Upholding the High Court’s (HC) judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed the appeal made by two men from Paro to change their three-year non-compoundable sentences to compoundable.

The two men, Thinley and Sangay, appealed to the SC after the High Court, altering the Paro Court’s judgment, which gave them one-year compoundable sentencing, sentenced them to three years in prison.

Stating that they have aged parents and young children to look after at home, they appealed to be allowed to pay thrimthue in lieu of prison term. They submitted that they are, otherwise, satisfied with the HC’s judgment.

The SC judgment of December 27 ordered the implementation of the High Court’s judgment.

It stated that the crime the two committed should be non-compoundable and there was no basis to alter the HC’s ruling.

Thinley was arrested with 252kgs of sander wood on July 7, 2015, and Sangay on July 4, 2015, with 468kgs. Paro dzongkhag court gave them one-year compoundable imprisonment on January 10, last year.

Office of the Attorney General (OAG) appealed to the high court. The High court altered the judgment and sentenced them to three years non-compoundable imprisonment.

The prosecutor from the OAG appealed to the High Court, reasoning that although sander wood is not included as a totally protected plant in the Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995, Bhutan is party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) since 2002 and sander wood is a protected species in CITES.

The attorney also cited the Constitution’s section 10 of article 1 and section 25 of article 10, which states that international conventions, treaties, protocols and agreements Bhutan entered into shall be deemed as law.

He also cited the Supreme Court order, issued on January 1, 2015, which states that the offence of risking of protected species should be graded a fourth-degree felony.

The HC found Thinley and Sangay guilty of violating section 490 of the Penal Code and the offence, according to SC order, shall be graded a fourth-degree felony.

Section 490 of the Penal Code states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of risking the protected species, if the defendant unlawfully hunts, destroys, captures, collects, transacts or deals in the sale of any animal or plant species or its parts or other conducts which shall be harmful or risky to the survival of such species recognised as protected under the law.”

Tashi Tenzin