According to the Annual report of the Judiciary of Bhutan, 2012 out of the 1,054 pending cases, 29 have been pending beyond 365 days.
However the courts of Haa, Pemagatshel, Tsirang, Jomotshangkha, Nganglam, Sakten, Sipsu, Sombeykha and Weringla have done well in reducing the delays and for prompt delivery of justice by having a zero case balance.
The Annual report mentioned that the highest number of cases was recorded in Thimphu Dzongkhag Court with 4,128 cases, followed by Phuentsholing Dzongkhag court with 814 cases.
13,978 new cases were registered while 1,226 cases were brought forward from 2011.
The Judiciary, in a year decided 14,150 cases. Out of which 9,802 cases were decided within three months (108 days) while 10,730 cases were decided in more than three months but within a year.
The report states that 232 cases were appealed to the High Court, out of which, 172 cases were appealed to the Supreme Court.
In 2012 the Supreme Court registered 175 cases including 14 cases of 2011. From those total cases 93 cases were affirmed after reviewing their petition of appeal and discussion during the conference of Justices.
Usually the Supreme Court reviews the appeal during the miscellaneous hearing and it is discussed during the weekly conference, either to dismiss or admit the appeal.
Therefore, out of 119 miscellaneous hearings, the Supreme Court accepted 37 matters for regular hearings meaning that appeal to the Supreme Court is easy but the court only accepts about 22 percent of these appeals.
The report also states that there were 4,393 matrimonial cases which exclude the application for marriage certificates and 3,414 monetary matter cases.
With only 29 pending cases the rate for pending cases beyond 365 days decreased by 68.8% from 2011. The rate for registered cases increased by 13.1% in 2012 compared to 2011.
The report reminds that the comparative statistics of affirmation by the appeal courts indicate that the lower courts have followed judicial process and fair trial.
“The statistics show that the misunderstanding about higher courts affirming all the lower courts judgments’ are erroneous and interpretation of the same law differently at various level of appeal are also incorrect,” states the Annual Report.
From the two benches in the High Court 152 cases were appealed. While 251 cases were affirmed and 118 cases were balanced. 85 cases were categorized as partial reversal and 23 cases fell under full reversal.
The reports points out that the Royal Court of Justice is the embodiment of hope to secure reverence for the Rule of Law, protection of private rights, ensure public justice and sustain human dignity.
But with the easy accessibility to the Court of law, the Annual report states that the court experienced the registration of frivolous cases that detract from legitimate adjudication.
Though appeal is a facet of natural justice and a constitutional right, easy access to appeal has created various negative aspects. The court according to the report gets jammed with numerous appeals and interminable delay of cases caused by the appeal system.
Some of the general problems that Annual reports points out some parties use it as a delaying tactic for their advantage and some parties appeal, though they have no hope of winning. “Their strategy is just to force their adversary to agree to a settlement favorable to them,” the Annual report states.
The appeal system reflects that litigants will exhaust all the levels of appeal to harass the other party and it happens mostly in monetary cases.
The report says that the judicial reforms and monitoring system resulted in creating an inbuilt system of healthy competition in terms of both the quantity of trials conducted and quality of decisions rendered by every court in the kingdom.
The report says that introduction of yearly statistical report of cases has created awareness and competition among courts and judges. It has advocated prompt and professional investigation, fair trail and timely dispensation of justice.
The Annual Report of the Judiciary, 2012 states that the Bhutanese legal system endeavors to be efficient and effective, ensuring prompt investigation, adjudication and dispensation to ensure low incidences of violent crimes and high level of safety of life and property.
It also says, “However, the rule of law needs vigilance, Militancy of law making, disproportionate penalties, conflicting provisions and plea for liberal interpretations have negative impact on the law. This would lead to negation of the intent of laws made by Parliament.”