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Court dismisses case of forged medical prescription

Thinley Namgay

The Chukha Dzongkhag Court, on May 22, dismissed the case involving a forged medical prescription, which had pitted Phuntsho Wangdi, a businessman from Phuentsholing, against Dendup Choejur from Bumthang and Karma Wangdi from Trashigang. 

The court determined that Phuntsho Wangdi did not have the right to appeal, as the prosecutor in the case was the police.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the judgment passed by the Phuentsholing Drungkhag Court, which resulted in a compoundable prison term for Dendup Choejur and Karma Wangdi for fabricating a medical prescription from Phuentsholing hospital, Phuntsho Wangdi recently appealed to the Chukha Dzongkhag Court, seeking harsher punishment. The police had acted as the prosecutor in the case.

Stating that he would continue to appeal to higher authorities, Phuntsho Wangdi asserted that proper justice had not been served in the matter.

The case originated from a dispute between Phuntsho Wangdi and Dendup Choejur at the Phuentsholing Drungkhag Court, where Dendup Choejur owed some dues to Phuntsho Wangdi.

Their fourth court hearing was scheduled for June 6 of the previous year. However, a few days before the scheduled date, Dendup Choejur informed the court that he was unable to attend the hearing due to medical reasons. The court granted permission, on the condition that he provide a medical report as soon as he was fit to attend.

The court summoned them again on July 7, 2022. However, Phuntsho Wangdi alleged that the opponent submitted a medical prescription from Phuentsholing hospital dated June 3, 2022, which did not recommend the necessity of medical rest, apart from prescribing some general medicines.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the prescription form dated June 3, 2022, was indeed issued by the hospital, but the writing and signature on the form were not those of the concerned doctor. The hospital later confirmed that it was prescribed by Karma Wangdi, a former health assistant of the hospital who currently operates a medical shop in Phuentsholing town. 

On July 13, 2022, Phuntsho Wangdi filed a case against Dendup Choejur, alleging forgery and deception of the judiciary and the hospital. The court ordered the police to investigate, but the police reported that there was no element of crime.

On July 21, 2022, the police informed the court that Dendup Choejur had undergone surgery for appendix disease in 2021 and had visited Phuentsholing hospital on June 3, 2022, due to severe stomach pain. According to the police, he obtained a prescription form from the hospital’s reception counter and was advised to wait outside the doctor’s chamber. However, due to prolonged wait times and intense pain, Dendup Choejur sought assistance from Karma Wangdi’s medical shop and used the hospital’s prescription form. 

The police maintained that Karma prescribed some medicines on the hospital’s form in an emergency, without closely examining the situation. They asserted that it was not intentional.

Based on the police report, the court declared Dendup Choejur innocent, finding no evidence of wrongdoing.

However, on August 2, 2022, Phuntsho Wangdi lodged a complaint with the chief of police, alleging a miscarriage of justice by the officer-in-charge of Phuentsholing in the criminal investigation, despite the submission of compelling evidence.

In his complaint, Phuntsho Wangdi stated that the police, as protectors of the law, had disregarded the criminal evidence presented.

He informed the chief of police that he had also submitted the same prescription, as confirmed by the chief medical officer of the hospital, which indicated that the concerned doctor had not issued it. 

The chief medical officer said: “The prescription was issued by Karma, a former Health Assistant of Phuentsholing hospital who resigned in August 2018. He is currently working in a private pharmacy shop in town.”

Following the complaint, the chief of police instructed the Phuentsholing police to reopen the investigation. Subsequently, the police filed charges in court.

Phuntsho Wangdi expressed frustration, stating, “The police cannot provide an explanation as to why they did not file charges earlier.”

The court registered the case on September 15, 2022. It ruled that Dendup Choejur and Karma Wangdi were guilty. However, the court deemed it a misdemeanor case and handed both individuals a compoundable prison term of one month. Dissatisfied with this outcome, Phuntsho Wangdi appealed to the dzongkhag court, seeking a more severe punishment.

As the forged medical prescription case concludes with its dismissal, questions surrounding the administration of justice and the extent of appropriate penalties persist, leaving Phuntsho Wangdi determined to pursue further legal avenues in search of a satisfactory resolution.