To ensure that the judicial system achieves its main objective of fulfilling the constitutional mandate of upholding the rule of law and to ensure transparency, impartiality and integrity in the administration of justice, several reforms were carried out to strengthen its independence last year.
According to the annual judicial report which was launched recently, some of the reforms initiated last year includes establishment of specialized benches at the Thimphu Dzongkhag court on 21st of December, 2016 which includes to improve and expedite procedures, ensure uniformity, accuracy, and predictability of judgment and the interpretation of laws. The reform is initiated to facilitate just adjudication of Criminal, Commercial, Civil, Family, and Child related disputes through a specialized bench.
The other reform was on the private money lending regulation where the judiciary in consultation with the Royal Monetary Authority drafted a private money lending regulation to regulate informal money lending and reduce the risks involved with informal money lending cases.
Reforms concerning delivery of judicial services through online services were also enhanced with support from the G2C office to make it available and deliver judiciary services more efficiently and also to simplify and improve judicial services and to monitor the efficiency of service delivery.
Some of the E-services where the general public can now apply for includes online attainment of marriage certificate, change of name or Date of Birth, marital status, child travel documents, lost documents, attestation of documents, kidney transplant documents, child adoption, attestation of agreements, wills, contracts and closing of accounts and transfer of shares.
The judiciary in collaboration with the Bhutan National Legal Institute and Anti-Corruption Commission also initiated the Judicial Integrity Scan report which provided an overview of the legal and institutional framework for judicial integrity. The report will be used as a tool to maintain and pave way for judicial reforms, strengthen the judicial integrity and eradicate corruption within judiciary. The report is also aimed at fostering the judiciary’s role in combating corruption across all parts of the country.
The Supreme courts over the years has issued several guidelines and notifications clarifying the anomalies in the application of laws and court process which expedited the adjudication of the cases in the courts and also brought consistency in the procedures and judgment rendered by the courts.
Supreme Court judge, Dasho Rinzin Penjor said it is important for the people to have a proper understanding of the laws and judicial processes. “Most of our people are not aware of the judicial processes and ask for change in the final judgment as a kidu. When people are not happy with the judgments they start criticizing the judge or the judicial system. People should know that the judges have to adhere to the due process of the laws and pass judgments accordingly,” he said.
The Supreme Court Judge also added that most of the prosecutors are either not very well trained or not professional in their conduct, and that they do not carry out proper research on their case which hampers the judicial process.