Crimes and punishments

Better than tobacco?

BBS recently ran two stories:

On 4 March they reported that:

The Thimphu district court yesterday sentenced a 23-year-old monk to three years in prison for smuggling tobacco. He is the first man to be convicted and sentenced under the controversial tobacco act.

Sonam Tshering was caught at the Chunzom checkpoint carrying 48 packets of Baba or chewing tobacco worth Nu.120. He confessed that he bought the chewing tobacco from a shop in the border town of Jaigaon for his own personal consumption.

And on 13 March, they reported that:

Thimphu City police have apprehended a 17-year-old boy and two men for substance abuse. The 17-year-old boy was apprehended from the vegetable market area. He was found intoxicated and carrying several tablets.

After talking to him, police apprehended the two men for dealing in drugs.

One of the men was apprehended earlier this month for illegal transaction of drugs. He was released after paying fine.

Our laws seem to say that it’s better to be caught selling drugs than to be caught possessing tobacco.

Photo credit: BBS

 

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  1. Yes la, Lyonpo. People caught possessing drugs are liable for misdemeanour whereas people, like Sonam Tshering, caught with less than Nu. 100 worth of tobacco are liable for felony. It is now far cheaper to smoke grass (marijuana) than to be caught like Sonam Tshering. And possessing one stick of cigarrette is equivalent to raping someone – both carry a minimum sentence of three years.

    If the tobacco control act is allowed to continute, there should be an “Alcohol Control Act” because alcohol does greater harm than tobacco. And possession of alcohol should be made a felony of the third degree.

  2. The act should be “Drugs Control Act” and not “Tobacco Control Act”

  3. These are just the tip of ice bergs. There are so many people in that category which you have described here. Youth with addiction problems are abundant in Town. Our detention cells are already beyond capacity with so many arrests because of so many Laws.

    For many of these people going in and getting out of the Jail, is like visiting any other places they have ever been to. Once they are out of the Jail, they don’t have anyother means or ways to get back their life, other than going back to their old ways of living. Some even prefer to be in Jail, because they feel their homes are boring.

    If government can come up with an alternative means to deal with such petty criminals, and lost youths such as sending them for correctional trainings , something like Desung trainings,(I know one is coming up in Jigmiling) but before that many people will be lost.

    At this rate, 5-10years down the line Thimphu street will be full of homeless, drunkards, addicts and many in rags.

  4. trying them in court, paying fines, and getting them in and out time and again is not solving anything. Maybe it’s high time we revise many of our Existing Laws.Ofcourse our courts are earning big……but it’s not translating into GNH la

  5. If a man could be jailed for 3 years for violating Tobacco Act, then what is the penalty for violating constitution, the Mother of All Laws? Is it be 3 years, 6 years or life in prison?

  6. I want to know what you think of the other tobacco case that happened at the Paro airport and the refusal of the chief of Police to accept the case.
    Do you think what he did was right? Anyway, who should decide what cases to take at their own jurisdiction? Can the Paro SP decide whether or not to take the case?

  7. Concern Citizen says:

    Hon’ble Opposition Leader,

    I fully support your statements and congress for bring such issue. You are a true leader and your words will be paid with rewards soon. I am always behind you and every words u speak here means lots to me. So i hope now people have realized what has to be done in next election.
    We are behind you and do everything possible under this sun.

  8. Pedantic says:

    I agreed to your point but you know that the laws of land are contradictory???
    I will be happy if the members of parliament(72 MPs) of Bhutan to amend the law in the coming seventh session of parliament.
    ii.

  9. Toka Sharang says:

    Hon’ble OL, I also highly appreciate your guts for correcting the government at all angles. Right after the first elections in 2008, we were really worried about the strength of the Opposition but now we have been convinced that two heads are far better than 45 heads. Please keep up your good work in the larger interest of the nation.

  10. like it or not, law is law and everyone must follow. So, only solution for smokers is, u switch to drugs for time being; maybe till tobacco act is amended. At least drug won’t affect others and you are not breaking the law as well! Everyone is happy!!!

  11. With regard to sonam tshering’s sentenced,I personaly feel that our Tobacco act must revise before it is too late.If any person is sentenced for 3 years, just because of 48 packets of baba,our tobacco act is underminig humman right.Why not as a hummand of using being we have right to consume everything that is available in the global market,but we must abstrain from doing commercial purpose. If someone is found selling such substance than it is justice to imprison that person. 50% of our citizen are found of using such substances.If all of them are taken to the court one or another day, 50% of our population will be in the prison.

  12. I fully support the Opposition Leader for the great job that they are doing .And on the other hand I m worried about our DPT government who made a law which will affect the poor and innocent society. The government who do not respect the decision of the Supreme Court.
    Punishment in tobacco act does not fit the crime so my humble request to opposition to raise the issues in the next parliament and we there to support. We were fooled once but we won’t make such mistake again. We are with you

  13. This is no new discussion. Everybody around me says the same thing, “Be high on the weed then be caught with tobacco”.

    To me this law seems like “Don’t analyze, Enact it first and See the consequences”.
    Loopholes are expected in every system but making the system a guinea pig, that’s something disheartening.

    I have nothing much to say on this but just wait and watch.

  14. Concern Citizen says:

    Only one thing I can comment here is that Tobacco Control Act should be amended soon. Harsh penalty provision of the act seems contradicting even with the provision of our Constitution and also the internationally accepted principle of proportionality in law wherein it states, “Punishment should always fit the crime”. When harsh penalty are awarded to the minor offence, it is obviously a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment prohibited by our constitution. The articles 7, section 17 of our Constitution provide, “A person shall not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. So it’s time for our lawmakers to familiarize themselves with every provision of Constitution and uphold the provision of the same. Otherwise, bad laws will kill the society.

  15. Concern Citizen says:

    Only one thing I can comment here is that Tobacco Control Act should be amended soon. Harsh penalty provision of the act seems contradicting even with the provision of our Constitution and also the internationally accepted principle of proportionality in law wherein it states, “Punishment should always fit the crime”. When harsh penalty are awarded to the minor offence, it is obviously a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment prohibited by our constitution. The articles 7, section 17 of our Constitution provide, “A person shall not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. i why called it inhuman, cruel and degrading punishment, the reason is simple. When punishment doesn’t fit the crime such as carrying few packet of tobacco or cigarettes leading to imprisonment to felony. So it’s time for our lawmakers to familiarize themselves with every provision of Constitution and uphold the provision of the same. Otherwise, bad laws will kill the society.

    Please OL, go through the above mentioned provision of our Constitution and carefully analyse it.

  16. When a parliamentarian heading the opposition party insults the Tobacco Act enacted by the Parliament with the ASSENT of His Majesty the King shouldn’t he be held responsible and accountable? Isn’t he insulting the Institutional Monarchy too? Majority prevails in a democratic system of governance as everybody is conscious about. Laws in force must be implemented both in letter and spirit indiscriminately la!!!!

  17. Galong Sonam Tshering should be charged for tax evasion and not smuggling in tobacco products. If bringing in tobacco products is considered as smuggling, then the government should completely ban consumption of any kind of tobacco products and stop levying taxes as well. If taxes are levied on tobacco products and someone fails to pay taxes he should be charged for tax evasion like for any other goods/products and not for smuggling.
    For instance, if some one wishes to bring in cocaine or other substance abuse by paying taxes, will he be allowed? No, law does not permit to abuse such substances in the country and yet if he brings in, then he should be charged for smuggling. Where as tobacco consumption is allowed and bring in tobacco products are also allowed by paying taxes, then I feel Sonam Tshering just violated one rule by not paying taxes to the government. Just sharing my views!

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