The Bench five of the Thimphu district court has allowed the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) to withdraw the defamation case against Dasho Benji in accordance with section 153 of the Civil and Criminal Procedures Code (CCPC).
However, as per the indemnity rule enjoined in the same section the plaintiff Dasho Benji has been awarded compensation of Nu 450,000.
There is no legal cost compensation as Dasho Benji’s lawyer, Younten Dorji of Bhutan Law Services fought the case pro-bono or without any legal fees.
The court says DPT is liable to pay compensation for the damage caused to the defendant’s good name and reputation and for suffering indignity, infamy and mental agony.
In the absence of any clear compensation guidelines the court took the maximum allowed one of ten years daily national minimum wage under section 321 of the penal code. The court said that the Nu 75 mn compensation claimed by the defendant as damages is too unreasonable.
The court said that considering the nature and background of the case, the social standing and milieu to which the defendant belongs, and taking into account the fact that the defendant is a senior citizen of distinguished accomplishments and well regarded figure in the country, and the fact that the accusation against the defendant injures him more than an ordinary citizen, and in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience, the court orders DPT to pay Nu 450,000.
The case all started in 2014 when the DPT filed a defamation case in court against a 15th August 2014 Facebook comment of Dasho Benji saying, “After having robbed the country blind DPT has the gumption to raise its voice ? Hahaha.”
DPT argued this immeasurably tarnished the image of the party and said it seriously threatened the unity, harmony, peace and prosperity of the nation.
Later, DPT on 23rd April 2015 filed to withdraw the case after the defence brought forth a series of issues related to DPT’s five years in powers and also a sedition charge.
The court based on a video recordings said that there is prima facie case of sedition against the DPT and asked the Office of the Attorney General to coordinate the investigate and file applicable criminal charges.