So far, the focus of the ‘Penjore Penjore’ case has been on the OAG and to an extent the government, but as the case gets filed in court, the focus will shift to the judiciary.
This case has put the judiciary in an unenviable position as the proclamations of the OAG so far have made the entire institution of the judiciary the biggest victim in the case.
It is hence a fair question to ask if Penjore can get a fair trail when the very adjudicator of the case is also the alleged victim and hence a party to the case.
The case is already compromised with the OAG being both the complainant and the prosecutor.
Though the judiciary did not ask for it, the public nature of this case and its far reaching implications on freedom of speech and the powers of the OAG means that it will also be a test of credibility of the judiciary.
It is in the best interests of the judiciary to ideally dismiss the entire case on the basis of locus standi of the OAG and ask the AG to instead file a private case if he feels personally defamed.
This would follow the very precedent set by the same Thimphu District Court in 2008 in Sangay Dorji Vs OAG which was reaffirmed by the High Court. The 2008 judgment in facts already sets the legal precedent for this case and it will be very difficult for the OAG to show otherwise, with the current evidence at hand.
The judiciary is a very powerful institution and it has both the power and the wisdom to deal with anyone who wants to cross it or defame it, and so it does not need a defender in the form of the OAG.
According to an article in a local newspaper the OAG is considering sedition charges against more people who post on a facebook forum including going after the forum administrator.
Here the OAG will really be exceeding its brief and heading further into unchartered waters which will not serve the purpose of free speech, justice and democracy.
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”