Royal Court of Justice has received 93 COVID-19 related cases so far. Priorities were given to domestic violence related cases and breach of COVID-19 protocol related cases once the courts resumed after the lockdown.
Cases could not be registered or cases were kept pending in the courts as it remained closed following government directives during the two lockdowns. It impacted court hearings and those with bailable offences could not approach courts for bail causing inconveniences for those accused.
Registrar General at Supreme Court, Gembo Dorji, said that people have a perception that the courts punish innocent people, irrespective of reasons, which is not true at all.
He said, “We do not like convicting anyone. Moreover, convicting someone without proving beyond the reasonable doubt is tough, particularly in criminal cases. The standard of proof in criminal charges is very high.”
The domestic violence related cases and cases related to breach of COVID-19 protocols are considered as direct cases, whereby it does not take much time to investigate, he said, adding that they only have to decide on the charges as everything comes fully investigated from the investigation agencies.
He said the judicial system could learn a lot from the two lockdowns and from the pandemic as a whole. To provide continuous services during such pandemic, the courts have come up with a Child Justice Project with funding support from the Australian Development Agency.
He said, “We are procuring screens in all the courts around the country so as to conduct hearings online, and trying to create a link between the court and Community Centers (CC) and these are being implemented with what we have learnt from the two lockdowns.”
The judiciary is also emphasizing on e-litigation, to conduct hearing and all the process electronically. The e-judiciary will be implemented in these divisions and in all subordinate courts during Phase II of the modernization of the judiciary, as a measure to provide unimpeded access to justice for all during the COVID-19 times, he said.