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21 February 2023
The Judiciary joins the Nation in celebrating the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King. To mark the joyous occasion, the Judiciary is pleased to present the Annual Report of the Judiciary 2022.
The Report contains information about the historic transformations the Judiciary underwent in the historic transformation year 2022. The Year saw the Judiciary studying and introducing measures to transform and improve workplace conducts and ethics to bring about excellence in our service to the public and strengthen public trust and confidence in the justice system while remaining responsive to the changing needs and times.
The Judiciary published a historic document that will transform the Judiciary called ‘Judiciary Strategic Plan 2022-2032’ (Plan) (available online at Link) to provide a clear and strategic framework to enable itself to respond efficiently to the changing legal needs of the people and contribute towards achieving our national interests. With the identified strategic objectives and goals, the Plan is hoped to bring about a strong, independent, transparent, and efficient Judiciary and realize His Majesty the King’s Noble Vision of enlightened laws to protect every person.
Among other significant outcomes, the Judiciary published 14 enabling documents, comprising Rules and Regulations, Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (available online), to facilitate the implementation of the Plan in earnest. Of these, the adoption of Judicial Performance Review and Evaluation Rules, 2022 was essential to institute a system of review and evaluation of judicial performance. The Rule is hoped to inspire visionary judicial leadership informed by accountability and professionalism as the guiding principles.
Pursuant to the Rule, the Judiciary commenced Judicial Performance Review and Evaluation (JPRE) in December 2022. The exercise, which will be carried out annually, sought to institute a system of reviewing and evaluating the professional competence and social relevance of our judges.
The enactment of the Civil Service Reform Act of Bhutan in 2022 also saw the de-linking of judicial personnel from the Civil Service. This will strengthen the independence and autonomy of the Judiciary.
The Judiciary also established a number of new crucial units and cells. A Media and Communication Unit was established at Supreme Court. The Unit is the gateway to information about the Judiciary and its functioning vis-à-vis the age of fast circulation of fake news and half-baked information. The Judiciary also established a Grievance Cell at Supreme Court. The Cell will seek to understand the challenges and grievances of litigants and the general public against judicial personnel but not against the judicial decisions and assist Judiciary to devise an appropriate mechanism to address them. As well, an Enforcement Unit at the Thimphu District Court was established. The Unit will enforce the decisions of all Five Benches in a more organized and systematic manner unlike in the past when every Bench enforced its decisions, requiring considerable time and resources.
The Report further contains the figures relating to the adjudication of cases by the courts. Overall, the Judiciary registered 8,239 new cases with 1,806 cases carried forward from 2021. Of this, the Judiciary disposed of 82.24 percent. Of the total 1,779 cases pending in 2022, 3.59 percent of cases are pending beyond 12 months, which is the lowest in the last five years, a drop from 202 cases in 2018 to 64 cases in 2022. Data from Dungkhag, Dzongkhag, High Court, and Supreme Court constituting this overall data is broken down into jurisdiction wise in the Report. Of many trending features in our data, one of the significant and noticeable changes was a significant increase in the notary services rendered by the Courts. This has been factored by the exodus of our people to other countries for education and work.
The Judiciary witnessed the superannuation of 5 judicial personnel and 20 voluntary resignations of 20 judicial support staff. Of those active in service, 4 judicial personnel were granted Life Time Civil Service Award, followed by 3 Gold, 6 Silver and 41 Bronze recipients.
As against the allocation of a total of Nu 401.6 Million in the budget, comprising a capital budget of Nu 110.08 Million and a current budget of Nu 291.452 Million, the Judiciary generated Nu 24.4 Million in revenue in 2022.