Judicial system and cases impacted by the pandemic

Like any other sector, the judicial system in the country is equally impacted by the pandemic. As the courts in the country could not function during lockdown, many people got stranded both in custody and outside custody.

Moreover, adjudications were getting stopped and court hearing kept getting postponed as they could not open courts as usual and their staffs were on Desuup duty. For 19 days during the first lockdown they had to keep courts closed nationwide while during the second lockdown it remained closed for almost a month. Those closings have impacted judicial services in many ways.

The Judiciary had to cancel all their conferences for the year and they could not start few of their projects which they were supposed to start long ago. In addition, construction of courts in various districts in the country and construction of Drangpon residences were also impacted by the pandemic.

Gembo Dorji, Registrar General at Supreme Court said that the pandemic has impacted the judiciary in many ways and they could not carry out their work as planned due to lockdown in between. They are lagging behind in a lot of things, however, they are trying to cope up, he said.

During lockdown, the cases related to Gender Based Violence (GBV) and lockdown related violence kept coming but they could not take up the cases due to closure of courts, he said, adding that however, the first priority will be given to cases related to lockdown violation the moment they resume the courts.   

It was learnt that the courts in all the 19 districts are given directives on case priority after the lockdown.

Meanwhile, he said that there seems to have been an issue with the registration of commercial (bank) related cases due to closure of courts. However, they were informed that the cases would be given priority right after the lockdown, he added.

He said, “Though it is too early to comment on number of cases received and number of cases resolved in 2020, I believe that the number of cases compared to previous years might have gone down and also the number of people who want to appeal to the court would have gone down because when the court is closed the case cannot be filed before the court.”

He said that the pandemic affected in both ways, as they could not take up the cases nor could they declare judgments on cases like before.

“Both the accused and victims of the cases must be getting frustrated, however, this is a situation where everyone has to come together and work for the betterment of everyone,” he said.

“It is not that we do not want to do but we are abiding by the law which was put in place by the government to reduce the risk of local transmission of the virus. There is nothing we can do and I hope everyone would understand the situation for now,” he added.

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