Q. Who appoints the Judges?
High Court justices, and district Court judges are nominated by the National Judicial Commission and confirmed by His Majesty, as stated in the Constitution. The same would apply to the Supreme Court justices. The Chief Justice of Bhutan and the Drangpons of the Supreme Court shall hold office until they attain the age of sixty-five years.
Q. What are the qualifications for becoming a High Court Judge?
The judges of the High Court shall be eminent jurists.
Q. Who is the Registrar General and what is his work?
The Registrar General is the administrative head of the High Court. The Registrar General is also the head of the Finance. The Registrar General supported by other administrative staff is responsible for the overall administration of the Courts in Bhutan. The Registrar General of the Supreme Court shall be appointed from among the Drangpons of Dzongkhag Courts on deputation for a period of three years by the Chief Justice of Bhutan and the High Court shall be appointed from among the Drangpons of Dzongkhag Courts on deputation for a period of three years by the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Q. How is the chief Judge selected?
Presently only Thimphu District Court has a chief Judge. One is not nominated or appointed to the position of chief judge, they assume the position based on seniority.
Q. How many tiers of Courts are there?
At present, there are four tiers of Court in Bhutan. They are the:
(1) Dungkhag Court;
(2) District Court;
(3) High Court; and
(4) Supreme Court.
Q. Which is the highest Court of appeal?
The Supreme Court of Bhutan shall comprise of the Chief Justice and four Drangpons, and shall be the highest appellate authority to entertain appeals against the judgments, orders or decisions of the High Court in all matters.
Q. How do I file a civil case? Is there a charge?
The filing of a complaint commences a civil action. Parties instituting a civil action in a Court are required to pay a filing fee pursuant to Section 132.3 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code. The current fee is Nu. 50 in the District Court and Nu. 100 in the High Court, unless it is waived by the Court in case of an indigent plaintiff.
Q. How do I file a criminal case?
Individuals do not file criminal charges in the Courts. The Government, usually through the Office of Legal Affairs, initiates a criminal proceeding. In other circumstances, allegations of criminal behavior should be brought to local police, through which it is forwarded to the Court.
Q. How can I find a Jabmi?
The Courts maintains a list of eligible Jabmis. The Court officials helps the litigants get in touch with such a service. Every Jabmi shall, in order to practice before any court of law in Bhutan be enrolled in the roll of Jabmis prepared and maintained by the Jabmi Tshogdey.
But here in Bhutan, most litigants proceed pro se; that is, they represent themselves before the Court.
Q. How can I check on the status of my case? Can I review case files?
Your representative, who likely is familiar with local court practice, is your best resource. Generally, all documents filed with a court are public records and are available through the clerk's office. By way of exception, some documents are sealed by special Court order and some are confidential by operation of law, such as files relating to juveniles.
Q. When will the Court reach a decision in my case?
All inquiries and proceedings are conducted as expeditiously as possible. Most cases continue uninterrupted until the case is completed, unless the Courts grant an adjournment or stay of proceedings in accordance with the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code. The Civil and Criminal Procedure Code established standard time requirements for timely prosecution and dispostion of criminal cases in the Courts.
Normally, a civil case is to be scheduled for trial within 18 months of filing the complaint and in the case of a criminal case, it is scheduled within 10 days.
Q. How are judges assigned to cases?
The basic considerations in making assignments are to assure equitable distribution of caseload. By law, the chief judge of each district court has the responsibility to enforce the Court's rule and orders on case assignments. A case shall be assigned to a Bench in an order of precedence.
Courts also checks if a Drangpon who is assigned a case may be reasonably construed to have conflict of interest, which would make it improper for this Judge to preside over a particular case.
At the same time, the Court shall hear cases in an order of chronological precedence, unless there is an imminent danger of loss or destruction of document/evidence/goods or it is characterized by the rapid deterioration of health of a critical party or witness in the dispute or there is a severe and augmenting monetary implications to the parties, in which case the Court may hear a case out-of turn.
Q. How do I file a complaint against a judge?
The complaint process is not intended to address complaints related to the merits of a case or a court's decision. Any person alleging that a Drangpon of the Court has engaged in conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the Courts, or that such officer cannot discharge all the duties of the office because of physical or mental disability, may file a complaint with the registry of the High Court.
Q. What is the National Judicial Commission of Bhutan? When was it established?
The Commission of the Chief Justice and senior officials was established under a Royal Decree in 2003.
Q. What are the duties and responsibilities of the National Judicial Commission?
The National Judicial Commission is responsible for the appointments and removal of the Drangpons of the Courts in Bhutan.
Q. Who are the members of the National Judicial Commission and how are they appointed?
The members of the National Judicial Commission are the Chief Justice of Bhutan as the Chairperson, the senior most Drangpon of the Supreme Court, the Chairperson of the Legislative Committee and the Attorney General.
The Druk Gyalpo appoints the members by warrant under His Hand and seal.
Q. When and where does the National Judicial Commission meet?
The National Judicial Commission meets twice a year at such time and place as designated by the chairperson.
The National Judicial Commission usually meets in the Chamber of the Chief Justice in the High Court.
Q. How does the National Judicial Commission do its work?
The National Judicial Commission operates through a network of committees, who submits the findings and report to the Commission.
Q. How do I find employment opportunities in the judiciary of Bhutan?
Employment in the Judiciary is routed through the Royal Civil Service Commission.