Thinley Namgay

Various courts across the nation issued a total of 10,195 marriage certificates (MCs) in 2023, averaging nearly 28 MCs per day.

This statistical insight was unveiled in the annual judicial report for the year 2023. 

While the aggregate number of MCs dispensed dropped by 830 in comparison to 2022, the figure remains noteworthy.

A retrospective analysis of the past five years illustrates a fluctuating trend. In 2019, 6,486 MCs were granted, which subsequently decreased to 3,637 in 2020, followed by a rise to 5,680 in 2021. 

Observers say that the surge in MC applications could be attributed to the prevalent trend of migration, particularly among the youth, who seek opportunities abroad in nations like Australia, Canada, the USA, and the UK for employment and education. 

An MC is a crucial prerequisite for visa applications in these countries.

Some commentators perceive the growing number of youth seeking MCs positively, citing it as a potential boost to counter the nation’s declining fertility rate, which currently stands at 1.8, falling short of the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman deemed necessary for sustaining a robust societal framework. 

However, concerns persist regarding the prevalence of de facto marriages.

Concurrently, the judiciary recorded a notable increase in revenue during the fiscal year 2023, amounting to Nu 37.314 million (M), reflecting a substantial rise of Nu 12.419M compared to the previous year’s figure of Nu 24.419M.

This surge in revenue marks a significant deviation from the revenue trends observed over the last half-decade. For instance, in 2021, the revenue totaled Nu 30.812M, while in 2020 and 2019, it stood at Nu 21.854M and Nu 30.356M, respectively.

Leki Tshering, the spokesperson for the communication unit of the judiciary, attributed this surge in revenue to various factors. He highlighted fines and penalties levied as alternatives to incarceration, cases involving private money lending, and the seizure of funds, including those derived from illicit activities such as gambling.

Furthermore, he emphasised that court fees for a range of services, including civil case registration, MC issuance, MC translation, and other notarial services, also contributed to revenue generation. 

It is noteworthy that fines and penalties collected are not retained or utilised by the judiciary but are instead deposited into the State Exchequer.