Crime: Gelephu dungkhag court has convicted two women to six months in prison each for voting in the Indian election in April last year.

Bindu Maya Sapkota, 44, from Puranabasty in Sarpang cast her vote on April 17 last year at Daragaon, Jaigaon, India, while 29-year-old Chandra Kumari Dhungana from Chuzargang voted from Dadgari, Assam.

Sarpang dzongkhag administration had submitted a petition to the court, stating that the two defendants’ citizenship be terminated for violating article 6 section 5 of the Constitution, which states that, if any citizen of Bhutan acquires the citizenship of a foreign state, his or her citizenship of Bhutan shall be terminated.

The administration has also cited section A and E of the Bhutan Citizenship Act 1985, which stated that any citizen of Bhutan, who acquired the citizenship of another country, shall cease to be a citizen of Bhutan.  The wife/husband and children shall have a right to remain as citizens of Bhutan, provided they are permanently domiciled in Bhutan and registered annually in citizenship register maintained by the ministry of home and culture affairs.

However, the court ruled that the two defendants’ citizenship couldn’t be terminated, since the evidence submitted by the defendant showed that they had not acquired the foreign country’s citizenship, and had voted in the Indian election as representatives of their husbands, who are Indians.

The verdict states that under the Penal Code of Bhutan, the two husbands were liable for prosecution.  Section 126 of the Penal Code states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of solicitation to commit a crime, if the defendant purposely or knowingly solicits, requests, commands, or causes another person to commit a crime.

“Since the two husbands are Indians, the law here has no jurisdiction to prosecute them,” the verdict stated.

According to the verdict, the two defendants, who voted in the Indian election, have failed to show loyalty and allegiance to the country’s sovereignty.

By Yeshey Dema, Gelephu