Staff Reporter

Two High Court justices were suspended this week for “deliberate miscarriage of justice” in a drug possession case involving two defendants.

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that Justice Pema Rinzin and Justice Tshering Dorji from Bench I of the High Court were suspended. However, the press release did not mention how long they were suspended for. 

The press release, specifying one of the defendants, the son of  Kuensel’s Dzongkha Editor, Rinzin Wangchuk, indicated collusion among the Attorney General, Lungten Dubgyur, Rinzin Wangchuk and the presiding  justice. 

Thimphu dzongkhag court in 2019 convicted both defendants to five years of imprisonment after finding them guilty in a drug possession case. The defendants appealed to the High Court. The case was assigned to Bench I.

According to the Supreme Court’s press release, during the case’s consideration at the High Court, Rinzin Wangchuk, Attorney General Lungten Dubgyur, and Drangpon Pema Rinzin had gone on an overnight trek to Phajoding when the case was sub judice. 

“Soon after this trek, Bench I issued a judgment that completely overturned the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court’s decision. The new judgment argued that the defendants’ positive urine test warranted compulsory treatment in a rehabilitation center for a period of 3 to 6 months, rather than a 5-year prison sentence,” the press release stated. 

The OAG did not appeal against the judgment. 

The case, according to the Supreme Court, was reviewed after the grievance cell received complaints alleging collusion among the Editor, the Attorney General and the Justice in the case. 

Based on the findings of a three-member committee comprising officials from the Supreme Court and the High Court on the legitimacy of the complaints, the Supreme Court directed the High Court to reexamine the case.

A Special Bench at the High Court reviewed the case and concluded that Bench I had indeed resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice. The Special Bench reversed the original judgment, reaffirming the Thimphu Dzongkhag Court’s decision. 

The defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court, but their appeals were dismissed, with the Supreme Court commending the Special Bench’s fair process and adherence to due legal procedure, according to the press release. 

The two defendants are serving their prison terms. 

The suspension of the two Justices is in keeping with the Judiciary’s mandate as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution and in line with the transformation efforts. “It is a testament to our commitment to uphold the principles of justice and fairness,” the press release stated. 

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that he had asked the Attorney General to submit a report.