On March 13, the larger bench of the High Court held an opening statement on the case against Dechen Wangmo, the former principal of Phajoding Lower Secondary School, and a social worker versus the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).
Dechen Wangmo had been sentenced by the Phuentsholing Dungkhag Court to 15 years of imprisonment for treason on December 28, 2010.
The showcase hearing was conducted on February 9 and the preliminary hearing was done on March 12.
The case history dates back to October 2009 when Dechen Wangmo was arrested.
Following her arrest, Dechen Wangmo confessed of forging her son’s fake marriage with Sonam Choden, who is said to be a woman living in the camps. Sonam Choden was to be resettled in the US; and this was done with the intention of sending her son to the US.
Mon Bhadhur Gurung, a resident of Jaigaon and who is also reportedly from a camp, had made the arrangements.
The marriage deal was fixed at Nu 50,000 and an additional Nu 20,000 was to be paid after her son’s name was registered as the legal husband.
It was through Mon Bhadhur Gurung, she met Narad Mani Adhikari, an anti-national and also reported to be one of the leaders of the Druk National Congress.
It was alleged that the defendant had maintained some ties with Narad Mani Adhikari and that she had been in touch with him and had discussed matters mostly relating to political issues.
To this the defendant stated that since she was keen on joining politics she had corresponded with people seeking their advice, and Narad was one of them.
However, she confessed that later she withdrew from the field of politics.
Being the secretary general of Phuentsholing Women’s Association (PWA) and of Youth Employment Summit (YES), an NGO, it is also believed that she had sent Neelem Rana, who is a non- Bhutanese and said to be involved in anti-national activities to represent Bhutan in Canada in 2006.
The defendant denied not being aware of Neelem Rana’s past history.
After being sentenced to 15 years, the defendant appealed to the Chukha Court on January 11, 2010 and the Chukha Court passed the judgment on grounds for deceptive practices following which Dechen Wangmo’s sentence was brought from 15 to six years of imprisonment.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the OAG appealed to the High Court, from where it was forwarded to Bench II.
Bench II supported the Phuentsholing Court’s verdict and the defendant was again sentenced to 15 years on December 16, 2011.
Not happy with the verdict, the defendant appealed to the Larger Bench of the High court on December, 26, 2011.
The date of the rebuttal has not been fixed but the judgment is most likely to be passed in about a months’ time if things go as planned.
The defendant has been charged under solicitation, criminal conspiracy, treason, and deceptive practices.