English | Dzongkha Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Parliament decides to include Fronting in the Penal Code


Dec 11, 2020

Fronting is now a felony of a fourth-degree if it takes place between a Bhutanese and a person other than Bhutanese national. The Parliament yesterday endorsed the joint committee’s recommendation to include a new section related to fronting and its grading in the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019.

The National Council, last year, deliberated on widespread Fronting in the border towns which has spread to other parts of the country and in new sectors such as tourism, hotels and boulder exports. The Council recommended effective legal provisions by studying the proposal to straightaway criminalise fronting as a felony offence in the penal code when they receive the amendment from the National Assembly or consider other legal measures such as imposing hefty monetary penalties or value-based sentencing to deter fronting before it is considered a felony offence.

And earlier this year, the National Council proposed to include Fronting in the Penal Code of Bhutan as a new section.

The new sections, as agreed by the parliamentarians in the joint sitting yesterday, will be included after section 284 of the Penal Code of Bhutan as section 284G and section 284H. Section 284 is on the grading of tax evasion.

As per the new section, if the fronting takes place between Bhutanese nationals, It will be a violation for the first conviction, and for the second conviction, it will a petty misdemeanour with the cancellation of license.

And, if fronting takes place between a Bhutanese and a person other than Bhutanese national, it will be graded as a felony of fourth-degree that is three to five years prison term or value-based sentencing.

However, some member of Parliament shared about few changes needed in the new section.

‘’The new section stated that a license cannot be used between or among Bhutanese nationals. If it’s possible, it’s better if a license can be used among Bhutanese nationals.  However, giving on lease and hiring one’s license amongst Bhutanese and foreigners should be kept as it is,’’ proposed Garja Man Rai, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Sergithang Tsirang Toed.

‘’If the license is hired amongst the Bhutanese, the penalty is light according to the law. However, if the same person is caught again then the license is cancelled. So it is better to make few changes and not cancel the license,’’ added Anand Rai, the Sarpang’s MP for the National Council.

After a thorough discussion, it was endorsed through a majority of votes.

The House also endorsed other new sections under section 284 of the Penal Code of Bhutan like market abuse, grading of market abuse, serious organised crime and grading of serious organised crime among others.

Pema Seldon Tshering/Kelzang Choden/Kinley Dem

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