Judiciary of Bhutan
Structure of the Royal Court of Justice

The Courts in Bhutan includes the Supreme Court , the High Court, the Dzongkhag Courts, the Dungkhag Courts, and any other Courts that may be established from time to time by His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission.

 

The Structure of the Courts

The Bhutanese legal system has a four-tier court system. The Supreme Court is the highest in the hierarchy, followed by the High, Dzongkhag and Dungkhag Courts. There are no courts or tribunals of special jurisdiction in Bhutan.
The Courts in Bhutan includes the Supreme Court, High Court, the Dzongkhag Courts, the Dungkhag Courts, and such other Courts and Tribunals as may be established from time to time by His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission.
The Supreme Court will be established with the adoption of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will be the highest court of law in Bhutan and will be presided over by the Chief Justice of Bhutan.

The Supreme Court shall exercise appeal, advisory and extra-territorial jurisdiction. Where a particular case is not covered or is only partially covered by any law in force and is not otherwise excluded from adjudication, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction over it. It shall exercise jurisdiction outside Bhutan on the basis of International Law principles.
The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and shall be the guardian of the Constitution and the final authority on its interpretation.


The High Court

Established in 1968, the High Court is made up of three Benches. A minimum of two judges comprises a Bench. The High Court exercises original jurisdiction as well as appellate and extra-territorial jurisdiction. As with the Supreme Court, the High Court possesses inherent powers and exercises extra-territorial jurisdiction on the basis of international law principles.
It presently stands at the apex of the Bhutanese judicial system and is presided over by the Chief Justice of Bhutan.

The Dzongkhag Court

At present, Bhutan is geographically divided into twenty Dzongkhags or districts. Each Dzongkhag has a Dzongkhag or District Court. The first Dzongkhag Court was established in 1960/61. Usually, the Dzongkhag Court is made up of one Bench, though there are some Dzongkhag Courts that have division Benches.The Dzongkhag Court exercises original jurisdiction in all cases in its territorial jurisdiction. Appeals from an order of Judgment of a Dungkhag court are made to the Dzongkhag Court.
Subordinate to the High Court is the Dzongkhag Courts presided over by a Dzongkhag drangpon. Every Dzongkhag drangpon is assisted by one or more drangpon rabjams.


The Dungkhag Court

Established in 1978, the Dungkhag or Sub-District Court is the lowest formal court in Bhutan. At present, there are three such courts in the country and they exercise original jurisdiction in all cases in their territorial jurisdiction. It is presided over by a Dungkhag Drangpon.


Research

Under the Royal Command, the Research and Training Bureau of the Judiciary was established in 1994. The Research Bureau has conducted important research on the sources of Bhutanese laws, court etiquette and manners, formal address and titles, legal terminology, etc.
Further, the Research and Training Bureau conduct in-service legal education, including sessions on procedural code, information technology, and Bhutanese literature. By attending such course, the judicial staffs continue to develop their skills and knowledge, thereby enhancing their professionalism.

 

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