Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering

PM says Penjore has not defamed Govt but will not restrain OAG on defamation case

NA Human Rights Committee to review the case

In a clear statement the Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that as far as he knows Penjore has not done anything against or defamed the government, the cabinet ministers and their agencies.

Lyonchhen also made it clear for the second time that the OAG’s case against Penjore is not the government suing Penjore, but it is the OAG’s own case for which the government has not given clearance and nor is one required.

In response to a question on increasing public perception that the government is suing Penjore the PM said, “Why would the government prosecute Penjore when he has not done anything against the government and the cabinet ministers. Why should the public even feel that way?”

The PM at the same time said the OAG’s press release (6th May) mentions judiciary, judges and quasi judicial bodies being defamed.

He said that the OAG is not under the government.

However, judicial and legal experts have countered this saying that since the OAG is appointed and removed based on the Prime Minister’s advice the AG is accountable to the Prime Minister and moreover the OAG is the government’s legal arm.

The OAG 6th May press release said Penjore has been making contemptuous comments maligning the Judiciary, reputation of the Judges besides other officials from reputed institutions.

However, despite the above statements avoiding blame for the increasingly controversial case, the Prime Minister said his position is still the same that he cannot interfere with the OAG.

Lyonchhen said that despite the news articles the AG has not even called him once or contacted him and he has also not talked to the AG which he feels is correct.

The PM said that he will not ask to review the Penjore case as it be tantamount to interference which he does not want to do.

Lyonchhen again stressed that the case has nothing to do with him or the government and he said he does not see the AG consulting him unless he calls the AG which he does not want to do.

The PM said that now the court will decide the outcome.

Lyonchhen said that far from Penjore even if his own relative is being prosecuted by the OAG he would not interfere.

The PM said that if he did interfere in the case then again there would be people accusing him of trying to influence the OAG. Lyonchhen said that this in the context of the OAG prosecuting government officials and even the former Home Minister.

Lyonchhen said in this case there is a bigger picture.

“I cannot stop him and I should not stop him,” he added.

The reporter asked that since the government is not stopping the OAG in the current case would he or the government sue anyone for making adverse remarks or even defaming the government.

Lyonchhen said that it all depends on the subject matter, the consequences for the government and the merit of the case. He said under the laws of the country anybody can sue anybody for defamation except for His Majesty who is sacrosanct.

NA Human Rights Committee to review case

In the meantime, among various institutions Penjore approached the National Assembly Human Rights Committee through the Speaker with a written application letter talking about his detention.

The Speaker Tshogpon Wangchuk Namgyel said that he marked the letter to the NA Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee who will meet and review and discuss and give feedback.

The Speaker said this is the process and furthermore committees are very important in the Parliamentary process as the quality of deliberations would suffer without committees.

He said they need to see and since a major portion of the matter has to do with the executive they need to balance and see the merit of the case.

The committee chairman Passang Dorji said the Speaker had handed over the matter for review and so the committee will have to meet and do a review.

The committee has eight members of which four are from the ruling party and four from the opposition.

The decision is usually taken based either on consensus or a simple majority. He said the meeting may have to happen after the session and if there are any reports it will have to be submitted by the winter session.

Passang explained that the committee can file reports in various Human Rights issues after deliberations which will be reported to the Speaker. He said if the committee wants to move a resolution then it has to be put up to a plenary session where if the majority support it then it will get through to be presented on the floor.

In the meantime, it has emerged that the RBP did not have an arrest warrant when they detained Penjore on 6th May.

As said by Penjore earlier a RBP official said it was true that Penjore was initially told that he could leave but was later detained.

The RBP official said that this happened as they read the OAG letter and realized that the issue was not just the 4th May post of Penjore but that he had been warned before and that other institutions were also mentioned by the OAG and so the RBP detained him on the spot but as per protocol produced him in front of the district court within 24 hours to get a remand order.

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