English | Dzongkha Wednesday, June 19, 2019

NA adopts the Penal Code Bill amid confusions

Phub Gyem, Thimphu
Jun 11, 2019

MP Tshewang Lhamo

The National Assembly passed the Penal Code of Bhutan amendment bill 2019 yesterday. The Legislative committee of the house moved the motion to pass the bill. 38 voted for the motion while five abstained and one voted against the motion.

However, after voting, the member of parliament (MP) from Panbang said the house cannot pass the Penal Code of Bhutan amendment bill 2019 as three clauses were deferred for the winter session of the parliament.

Despite intense deliberations, the house could not amend section 183 to reduce the age of consent to 16 from 18 as recommended by the National Law Review Taskforce. The house also retained section 184 as it is reflected in the Penal Code of Bhutan 2011 that is, to grade rape of a child above the age of 12 as an offence of second-degree felony. The committee proposed as recommended by the National Law Review Taskforce to reduce the sentencing to third-degree felony.

 A few members are still of the understanding that the bill is being deferred to the winter session to be re-tabled for deliberations.

“By show of hands we have passed the bill, but after sometime we realised technically it was wrong. Technically, it is not endorsed if all clauses were not passed. And there are three clauses, which we couldn’t come to a concrete conclusion. So because of that my understanding is that the bill is deferred to winter session,” Tashichhoeling MP Dil Maya said.

“During the deliberations, we couldn’t come to a common understanding on a few provisions. Therefore, Speaker commanded that the bill be deferred in order to resolve those disputed sections. So my understanding is that the bill has been deferred for the winter session,” Dewathang_Gomdar MP Ugyen Dorji said.

“I thought we will re-deliberate on the Penal Code of Bhutan amendment bill in the next session although I am not sure which session. It has been deferred,” Sombaykha MP Dorjee Wangmo, who is also a member of Legislative Committee, said.

However, the legislative committee of the house maintains that the bill is passed upon deleting the new section on fronting and retaining sections 183 and 184 as it is in the Penal Code of Bhutan 2011.

“We didn’t defer the sections, we deleted the sections. Once we delete the proposed amendment or if the house does not accept the proposed sections we retain the 2011’s sections. So that is why it is not deferment we passed the Penal Code of Bhutan amendment bill 2019,” Bongo-Chapcha MP Tshewang Lhamo, who is also the chairperson of the Legislative Committee, said.

She also said the bill will be moved to the National Council for further deliberation.

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