Mr Bhutan 2017 convicted for defamation and harassment
THIMPHU (Kuensel/ANN) - Sangay Tsheltrim, Mr Bhutan 2017,sentenced to three months in prison for defamation and harassment.
Thimphu district court’s criminal bench II sentenced Sangay Tsheltrim, Mr Bhutan 2017, to three months in prison for defamation and harassment.
The judgment passed on September 6 stated that although the defendant was liable for two counts of crimes, he was given a concurrent sentencing, as he committed the crime together and also for not having prior criminal record.
The judgment stated that Sangay Tsheltrim had alleged Bhutan Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Federation (BBWF) and a proprietor of a private school in Thimphu, Vivi Tshering, of corruption and colluding and made personal remarks against Vivi Tshering on a Facebook live streaming on October 10, 2017.
The court ruled that his allegations were found to be false without substantial evidence as per section 95 of the Evidence Act.
The case first surfaced after Sangay Tsheltrim went live on Facebook alleging that his performance in the ninth World Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championship in Mongolia that year was turned over by politics in the federation. He stood fourth in Men’s Athletic Physique up to 175cm category.
The judgement stated that although the defendant’s lawyer Yeshi Wangdi submitted before the court that his client used Facebook to report the truth to his supporter, he took the law in his hand without any respect to the country’s prevailing laws.
The judgment stated that if the defendant thought the results were unfair, he could have approached legal and concerned authorities instead of resorting to Facebook. “There was no evidence of the allegations.”
It also stated that after the defendant’s live streaming on Facebook, another Facebook user, Lengo Tashi used the victim’s photo and made many unnecessary comments in various social media platforms, which affected the victim’s reputation and “social standing”.
The judgment also stated that although the defendant’s lawyer argued that his client should not be held liable for making statements on Facebook, as he was expressing his right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression, as per section 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution, the court cited section 5 of Article 8 of the Constitution and ruled that a Bhutanese citizen also has the responsibility not to intrude on other’s privacy and affect their reputation.
The court also found Sangay Tsheltrim guilty of harassment. It stated that after his Facebook post, many people commented against the victim and her family.
The judgment stated that although the defendant is liable to pay compensation to the victim, the victim didn’t want compensation.
Meanwhile, the court stated that while social media brought positive impact in the lives of people, many post comments on use social media without analysing the repercussions. “Relevant organisations have also not conducted any awareness, which led to the misuse of media that caused problems in the society.”
The court, therefore, directed the recently established Media Council to frame regulations and guidelines in line with section 71 of Chapter 4 of the Bhutan Information, Communications and Media Act of Bhutan 2018.