Ever since I joined the law school, I was taught to appreciate the good laws and criticize the bad written laws. However, many Bhutanese legislations deserve appreciation as well as criticism. In this piece of writing, I do not intend to incorporate each and every legislative flaws rather focus on Chapter 39 of the Bhutan Civil and Criminal Procedure Code.
Chapter 39 provides for Full or Partial Please of Guilty or Nolo Contendere.
Section 195.5 states that “if the plea of Nolo Contendere is accepted, the Court may proceed to award judgment and sentencing in accordance with the law”.
Section 196 provides that “if the defendant pleads not guilty to one or more of the charges levelled, the Court shall set a date for trial granting sufficient time as required to enable the prosecution and defence to prepare adequately”.
Section 196.1 states that “the court following the completion of the full trial shall pronounce sentence on an element, to which the accused pleads guilty of Nolo Contendere”.
After analyzing these provisions, I can’t stop asking a question: “What does Section 196.1 provides for”? It provides no sentence for the accused for a charge which he/she has not pleaded guilty. In other words, the provision mandate the courts to pronounce sentence on an element to which the accused has pleaded guilty of Nolo Contendere, and there is no question of pronouncing sentence based on the proven guilty of which the accused has not pleaded guilty.
The question is: if the court is to pronounce sentence based on the element of which the accused has pleaded guilty, why the court need to conduct full trial for a charge that is not pleaded guilty? I find no reason at all.
My interpretation may be incorrect, but I feel the provision itself is problematic. Please share your thoughts!