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
At present, the Bhutanese legal system has a four-tier court system. The Supreme Court is the highest in the hierarchy, followed by the High Court, Dzongkhag, and Dungkhag Courts. There are no courts or tribunals of special jurisdiction in Bhutan.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the highest court of law in Bhutan and 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, the guardian of the Constitution, and the final authority on its interpretation.
The High Court
Established in 1968, the High Court is made up ofthree Benches. A minimum of two justices 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 also possesses inherent powers and exercises extra-territorial jurisdiction on the basis of international law principles. It is presided over by the Chief Justice of High Court.
The Dzongkhag Court
At present, Bhutan is geographically divided into twenty Dzongkhags or districts. Each Dzongkhag has a 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. Every Dzongkhag drangpon is assisted by one or more drangpon rabjams/Registrars.
The Dungkhag Court
The Dungkhag Court was established in 1978. There are fifteen 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.
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.