In one of the few sentencing of its kind in the country, Trongsa court ordered two minor monks to conduct reformative service in lieu of their sentencing.

The two minors, aged 14 and 15, were convicted for auto stripping or breaking mirrors of five cars at the car park near the Trongsa dzong on the night of January 18 this year.

The incident occurred while the minors were returning to the dzong from the town under the influence of alcohol.

The duo was ordered to offer 1,000 butter lamps at the Trongsa dzong, prostrate 1,000 times and serve tea to the whole dratshang in the dzong as a gesture of repentance.

The judgment stated that the two minors were liable for imprisonment terms ranging between one month and a year for auto stripping as per the Bhutan Penal Code 2004.

However, the court ruled that the minors were children in conflict with the law and did not pose any threat to the community.

The judgment cited section 3 of the Child Care and Protection Act of Bhutan 2011 which states, “In actions concerning children under this Act whether undertaken by the government, non-government or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities, family members or individuals, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration.”

The act defines the best interest of the child as the totality of the circumstances and conditions, which are most congenial to the survival, protection and feelings of security of the child and most encouraging to the child’s physical, psychological and emotional development. It also includes the least detrimental available alternative for safeguarding the growth and development of the child.

The Act further states that except if a recidivist or habitual offender, a convicted child shall have the right to minimum sentencing.

In view of these provisions and facts, the court decided to base the sentencing on section 30 of the Bhutan Penal Code 2004.

The section reads: “The Court may order community service in lieu of the imprisonment if the defendant is convicted of the offences liable for a petty misdemeanour or misdemeanour, provided that the defendant convicted does not pose a potential threat to the society, the victim or there exists no likelihood of flight.”

The owners of the damaged vehicles submitted to police that they don’t want any compensation from the two boys.

The court also ruled that the minors need not pay any compensation.

Tshering Palden