The compensation claim by Penjore, a private individual, for his arrest and detention for 16 days was dismissed by the High Court. The court also upheld the Thimphu District Court’s judgment acquitting him of defamation charges. He was accused of defaming the Office of the Attorney General through his Facebook post last year. The judgment was passed today.
Penjore appealed to the High Court in June stating that the seven BNBL officials who were involved in recruitment should be charged. This, he claimed is evident from the conviction of 12 former BNBL employees of forgery.
However, the judgment stated that the BNBL officials were not aware of forgery and so, there was no way for them to report the crime.
According to the judgment, there was also no evidence to charge the officials with official misconduct or conflict of interest between the officials and the employees who forged the documents.
He also said that OAG officials involved should be held accountable for dropping the charges against BNBL officials. But the judgment states that the OAG has the authority to review the charges submitted by police and decide accordingly.
Penjore also appealed that he should be compensated for the arrest and detention for 16 days in May last year. Like the district court, the High Court also dismissed the appeal for compensation claiming that an individual can be detained for investigation. The judgment also stated that Penjore could neither specify the nature of the injury suffered nor the amount of damages claimed.
Meanwhile, the judgment also states that the post Penjore shared was of public interest and he had exercised his freedom of speech.
According to the judgment, the Police could not prove that the post by Penjore has affected the institutions. Moreover, it was also not proved beyond reasonable doubt that Penjore shared the post intentionally to defame Bhutan National Bank Limited and OAG. Thus, giving the benefit of doubt to Penjore, the court acquitted him of the defamation charges.
Penjore wrote about the OAG while sharing a BBS news article on the conviction and termination of 12 BNBL employees of forgery. He wrote against the Office for dropping the probable charges against the BNBL officials who were involved in the recruitment.
The case was registered with the Thimphu District Court in November last year.
Meanwhile, dissatisfied with the High Court’s judgment, Penjore is planning to take the case to the Supreme Court.