Thimphu district court’s bench I on February 4 sentenced a 42-year-old woman from Phangyul, Wangduephodrang to two months for harassing and threatening an Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) investigating official.

The court however, allowed Kezang Deki to pay thrimthue in lieu of imprisonment as per the Penal Code of Bhutan. Section 13 states that “A defendant convicted of a petty misdemeanour shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, a minimum of which shall be one month and a maximum of which shall be less than one year.”

Thimphu police registered the case at the district court on August 7 last year after the ACC filed a complaint against Kezang Deki and Phangyul gup Ugyen for attempting to assault and threatening two investigating officials.

The incident happened on July 23 when an ACC lady officer, Tshering Choezom, who was responsible to escort the detainee in a ACC vehicle had gone to the district jail in the police headquarters compound to drop off Damchoe Choden, popularly known as Anim Damchoe. Anim Damchoe was under ACC detention since June 11 for alleged project fund diversion, fraudulent practice in tourism business and tax evasion.

The ACC officials met Kezang Deki, the younger sister of Anim Damchoe, outside the jail.

The court’s ruling stated that the defendant began harassing Kezang Deki by accusing ACC of detaining her sister for a long time without conducting a thorough investigation and that she may suffer depression in the detention room. She also accused the lady official of being “useless and worthless,” and pointing fingers had threatened that she would put them under police detention.  “The lady official was even spat on by the defendant,” the court’s ruling stated.

The defendant, however, denied the allegation before the court. “I only asked her when my sister would be released from detention because she may go under depression,” she said before the court.  “To this, Tshering Choezom, who was on official duty, aggressively and loudly told me that she doesn’t know and that I will have to talk to the Commission.”

The court examined whether the defendant was engaged in a course of conduct that places a person in reasonable fear of emotional or mental distress as per the provision of Penal Code. In her statement to the court, RBP’s Peljab Tshering Wangmo, who was on duty at the detention centre, stated that she heard a loud noise outside the centre when she was inside the detention room to give medicine to Anim Damchoe.

According to Peljab Tshering Wangmo, she walked out and found that the defendant had spat after the ACC vehicle. However, she said, she didn’t hear the abusive words used by the defendant.

Phangyul gup Ugyen submitted before the court that he intervened the argument and told the ACC lady official that there was no harm in asking questions and that the official could speak courteously.  He said he then went to his car.

The court  stated that during court proceedings, Kezang Deki and her younger brother Ugyen admitted to having accepted their mistake and pleaded for compromise in their statement to the police. 

Based on these evidences, it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant had provoked and harassed Tshering Choezom thereby violating Penal Code’s section 462. The court sentenced Kezang Deki for a petty misdemeanour.

However, the court ruled out compensation, as there was no physical injury to the victim.

Rinzin Wangchuk