The Bar Council of Bhutan is being constituted for the first time. Although the first Jabmi Act was enacted by the Parliament in 2003, it could not be implemented as envisioned for some time. To suit the changing needs and circumstances in the field of law and practices, the Act was amended in 2016.
The main functions of the Bar Council (Jabmi Tshogdey) according to Section 9 of the Jabmi (Amendment) Act 2016, among many are to: encourage and promote integrity, efficiency and responsibility of the private practicing lawyers; determine cases of misconduct against private practicing lawyers; promote legal education; provide pro bono legal aid to indigent person; and conduct selection examination for, and maintain a role of private practicing lawyers.
These functions aim to strengthen and promote the legal services in the private sector through a regulated Bar Association whose members are the private practicing lawyers.
Section 3 of the Jabmi (Amendment) Act 2016 states that the Bar Council shall consist of the following seven members which are Attorney General as ex officio member, two retired Justices of the Supreme Court or High Court nominated by the National Judicial Commission, three members elected from amongst private practicing lawyers and an Independent representative.
Accordingly, the members of the Bar Council are former Supreme Court Justice Dasho Rinzin Gyeltshen and High Court Justice Sithar Namgye nominated by the National Judicial Commission, while Mr. Cheda of M/s UC Associates, Bhutan Law Office, Mr. Jamyang Sherab of M/s Garuda Legal Services and Mr. Ugyen Dorji of M/s UD & Partners were elected by the private practicing lawyers. Attorney General is an ex-officio member of the Bar Council.
The Independent Representative is to be a person of high repute. In accordance with Section 3 of the Jabmi (Amendment) Act 2016, the six members of the Bar Council invited Her Royal Highness Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuk to be the Independent Representative to the Bar Council and HRH graciously consented to the request.
As mandated by the Act, nominees from the Bar Council members filed their votes for the election of the President and the six members present, unanimously elected the Independent Representative, HRH Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck as the maiden President of the Bar Council in December 2016. Dasho Rinzin Gyeltshen has been elected as the Vice President of the Council to assist the President.