With the DPT Vs Dasho Benji case now entering the evidence stage the DPT presented a set of seven documentary ‘evidences’ to prove its alleged case of defamation against Dasho Benji.
MP Nidup Zangpo and MD Duptho from DPT represented the case for DPT.
The plaintiff said that the seven documentary evidences would prove that the defendant had posted a defamatory statement against the plaintiff, violated the Public Service Code of Conduct of requiring to remain apolitical as a serving public servant, violated section 317 and 320 of the Penal Code of Bhutan and claimed that his freedom of speech is protected by the Constitution.
The first evidence was a copy of the statement posted on face book on 15th August, 2014 at 2.22 pm by the Defendant in his own identity.
“The same exhibit also shows the Opposition Leader seeking clarification on how and who among the DPT robbed the country to which there was no response from the Defendant, till the day plaintiff filed the case in this Honorable Court subsequently admitted posting the statement on Face book,” said Nidup Zangpo.
The second evidence was a copy of the Opposition Leader’s letter to the Prime Minister requesting for his intervention to take appropriate action against the defendant for posting a defamatory statement on Face book.
The third evidence was a copy of the Prime Minister’s letter to the Leader of the Opposition Party vide on 28th August, 2014 refusing to take action against the Defendant on the basis that the Defendant holds a public service position outside the purview of the Government.
“It proves that the prime Minister refused to take action against the Defendant as the Advisor to the National Environmental Commission despite him being the Chairperson of the National Environment Commission. This led to the Plaintiff to initiate criminal charges against the Defendant,” said Nidup.
The Fourth evidence was a copy of Royal Kasho from His Majesty the King addressed to the Chairman of the National Environment Commission (NEC) appointing Dasho Benji as the special advisor to the NEC.
“The Royal Command explicitly includes the provision of office and personal assistant implying that the Defendant is required to function within the purview of the NEC’S mandate and within the framework of the rules and regulation of the Royal Civil Service Commission. Therefore ,within due obeisance to His Majesty’s Kasho, we would like to submit that regardless of the nature of appointment, all public and civil servants including the Defendant, serve the Tsa-wa-Sum at the pleasure of His Majesty the King,” said Nidup.
The fifth evidence was a copy of the Staff Directory) wherein the defendant is reflected as Lyonpo Paljor J.Dorji, Special Advisor to NEC, along with a Civil Servant personal assistant named Tashi Wangdi.
The sixth evidence was a copy of the Commission Member of NEC, wherein the defendant is featured as Special Advisor to NEC and Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister as the Chairman of NEC. “This shows that the Prime Minister as the Chairman of NEC has every authority to take appropriate action against the defendant,” said Nidup.
The final evidence is a copy of the pay-slip of the defendant, for the month of January, 2015 showing that he continues to receive the salary and allowances of a Deputy Minister of the Royal Government for a duration and nature that far exceeds any normal of short term contractual, elected, or a consultancy employment. “The nature of employment is long term and very much an integral part an Agency that is governed by the rules and regulation of the RCSE,” said Nidup.
The DPT submitted that the above evidences conclusively prove that the defendant is a public servant receiving his pay and allowances from the Consolidated Fund.
DPT pointed out the interpretation of Article 30(2) of the Constitution clearly makes him a public Servant.
DPT said that all public servants except the member of National Assembly are required to remain apolitical. The party said that since, the defendant is not a member of the National Assembly, the minimum requirement of code of conduct to remain apolitical as per the RCSE Act applies to the defendant.
“Having established that the defendant is a public servant and that too integral part of an agency governed by the RCSC, the principle of natural justice requires that defendant should follow the minimum code of conduct to remain apolitical,” said Nidup.
Interestingly the DPT did not put up any evidence or points to show the extent of defamatory damage caused to the DPT by Dasho Benji’s statement. Internationally defamation cases usually involve proving the level and extent of damages caused by defamation.
The next hearing is for Dasho Benji’s lawyer to put up the evidences is on 12th March 2015.