Made to serve meals, read books and take part in rituals

Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Two students of Sherubling Central School will be busy during the five-day annual Trongsa tshechu that begins on January 3.

The teenagers, 14 and 17, will participate in daily rituals that begin at 2 am and also help monks serve meals during the tshechu.

The routine is the punishment meted out by the Trongsa court, as “corrective sentencing” for breaking the windshield of a DCM truck.

The students were found guilty of violating section 396 and 397 of the Penal Code of Bhutan. The offence is considered malicious mischief.

The sentencing, according to the judgment, is to ensure that the defendants learn the Bhutanese codes of conduct and etiquette (driglam namzha).

“After the tshechu, the defendants must report to the court every day and sit in the court library and read selected speeches of His Majesty the King related to youth and education compiled by the court for a period of one month from January 13 to February 13,” the judgment stated.

The defendants also have to read selected provisions of the Penal Code of Bhutan related to youth and crime. The Court has compiled a booklet consisting of the selected provisions.

The punishment does not end there. The two students must attend the Trongsa business community meetings and speak on the Penal Code.

The judgment stated that the court gave corrective sentencing giving due consideration to the principles of decriminalisation, diversion, restorative justice and of ‘best interest of the child’ as enjoined in Sections 10 and 20 of the Child Care and Protection Act, and in view of the fact that the defendants are ‘child in conflict with the law’.

Section 20 of the Child Care and Protection Act states that all institutions or organisations whether government or private shall protect the dignity of the child observing the principle of decriminalisation, diversion and restorative justice.

Section 10 states that if a child commits an offence, the child shall be treated in a manner that would divert the child from the criminal justice system unless the nature of the offence and the child’s criminal history indicates that a proceeding for the offence should be initiated.