… says those found in violation will be penalised

Going by the Chief Justice’s opening address at the annual judicial conference that began yesterday there is cause for concern in the judiciary.

Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk raised serious concerns on the lack of compliance to the judiciary’s code of conduct by judicial officials. He referred to recent examples when the judiciary came under fire with accusations being made against the Chief Justice himself and allegations of corruption in the judiciary.

Thrimchi Tshering Wangchuk blamed some of the judicial officials for some of the criticisms against the institution. “The judicial officials colluding and conspiring with clients has also promoted the fomenting of unnecessary criticism against the Chief Justice and the judiciary,” he said.

“Violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct and laws will jeopardise careers. Unbridled ambition and impatience will tarnish the image of the judiciary, stifle confidence and the lack of unity will pose grave danger to the independence of judiciary.”

“Internal strife and one-upmanship will negate the ability of the judiciary to uphold its constitutional mandate to function as the guardian of the Constitution.”

The Chief Justice said issues of non-maintenance of confidentiality and professional secrecy concerning matters related to the judiciary discussed within the four walls of the courts are becoming a cause for concern. Judges and judicial staff must abide by the code of conduct and oath taken, he said.

“The need for judicial officials to abide by the judicial code of conduct, and maintaining high levels of integrity and confidentiality is not a choice but an imperative,” he said.

Calling for responsibility and accountability, the Chief Justice said that any indiscretion henceforth will be dealt with penalties and actions based on the gravity of the breach in respective cases.

The five–day conference with the theme “Inspiring public trust and confidence” will endorse the Judicial Responsibility and Accountability Regulations.

Once the two other vacancies for justices in the Supreme Court are taken, the Chief Justice will be responsible for the High Court and the other four justices will be allotted five dzongkhags each. The justices will visit the dzongkhags annually to observe hearings, hold discussions with the officials.

The evaluation will also include reviewing the three best judgments selected by the drangpon and three judgments randomly picked by the Justice in-Charge.

The track record will be used in recommending judges to Constitutional posts. He said that such a process will enable the justices to gain first hand information regarding the ground realities and capability of the lower court judges.

Another possibility, the Chief Justice said, was that with the establishment of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law in Paro the judgments of the courts will be critiqued. This, he said, should keep the judges alert and improve the quality of drafting, reasoning, and application of laws.

“Legal professionals must serve the nation as servants of the law, patriots to the nation and with absolute and undivided loyalty to the Throne,” the Chief Justice said.

“Inspiring trust and confidence in the justice delivery system is easier said than done,” the chief Justice said.

He said that besides efficiency, fairness and clear conscience in deciding cases, what matters is perceptions.

The Supreme Court also issued the first writ directing the government to reconsider establishing thromdes in the remaining 16 dzongkhags. The judiciary also launched 12 services of its notary public office online.

Tshering Palden