Neten Dorji | Warmrong 

Wamrong drungkhag court held the preliminary hearing for the battery case yesterday after the Thrimshing police resubmitted the charge sheet as ordered by the court.

Police resubmitted the charge sheet specifying the grading of the sentences sought against three persons, Wamrong drangpon’s wife, the cleaner’s wife Sonam Peldon and her son.

Prosecutor resubmitted that the defendant Tshering Yangki, 52, the drangpon’s wife, has violated the sections of 158 and section 237 of Penal Code of Bhutan. “The offence of battery shall be graded as petty misdemeanour as per code of section 159 (a) and trespass shall also be graded as a petty misdemeanour as per section 139 (a).”

The sentencing for a petty misdemeanour is a prison term ranging between a month and a year.

Sonam Peldon and her 18 years old son are charged for assault.

They have allegedly violated section 156 of the Code. “The violation shall be fined the daily minimum national wage rate for a maximum of ninety days,” the charge sheet states.

After the preliminary examination of the charge sheet, the court observed that the charged sheet contained only the definition and description of the offence committed by each of the accused.

The court then ordered the prosecution to resubmit the charge sheet by specifying the grading of offences.

It is a procedural requirement under section 187.1 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code of Bhutan, 2001 for the prosecutor to state both the offence(s) allegedly committed by an accused and grading of offence.

The description of the grading of an offence in a charge sheet is an important basis to determine the legal standing (Locus Standi) of the agency filing the charges.

It also influences the outcome of the trial to a certain extent because the law requires different standard of proof for differently graded offence, though the offence itself may be of the same nature.

According to Penal code of Bhutan 2004, to put the above theory in present context, the offence of battery under section 159, and the offence of trespass under section 239 are graded as a petty misdemeanour or misdemeanour (minimum of one year to maximum of three years imprisonment) depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

If the prosecution in the present case intends to charge the main accused for aggravated battery under Section 158 read with Section 159 (b), and a misdemeanor charge for trespass under Section 237 read with section 239 (b), it is only the Office of the Attorney General, who shall have legal standing to prosecute the case and not the Royal Bhutan Police.

This is in accordance with Section 71 of the Royal Police Act 2009, which authorises police to initiate prosecution of criminal offences, which are graded as petty misdemeanour or violations as per the Penal Code of Bhutan or other penal statutes.

As per Section 96.2 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code 2011, the aggravated battery or trespass needs a higher standard of proof compared to a normal or simple battery or trespass.

The court shall conduct the hearing for the opening statement on July 7.