As we celebrate the 68th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty Drugyel Zhipa, this day presents an opportunity to express gratitude to our monarch and offer prayers for the long life and good health of His Majesty the Great Fourth. Today also marks the 15th anniversary of the constitution established by His Majesty the Fourth King. It is a day for reflecting on the democratic evolution and the rule of law over the past fifteen years.

The foundations of the establishment and functioning of Bhutan’s democracy is the rule of law. During the Adoption of the Constitution, His Majesty said, “This Constitution is the most profound achievement of generations of endeavor and service. Constitution was placed before the people of the twenty dzongkhags by the King. Each word has earned its sacred place with the blessings of every citizen in our nation. This is the People’s Constitution.” Thus, the importance of upholding the principles of the Constitution cannot be overstated.

However, during the three successive governments over the past fifteen years, certain setbacks have tarnished the spirit of our constitutional framework. Instances of executive overreach, as evidenced by the executive orders, and executive actions contravening the established constitutional provisions. Similarly, the judiciary’s missteps, such as the dismissal of justices who are constitutional postholders without an impeachment process, have raised concerns about the upholding of constitutional values. The legislature’s inclination towards enacting laws driven by political agendas rather than the welfare of the nation has been noted, running contrary to the principles advocated by His Majesty.

As we stand at the cusp of a new electoral cycle with political parties in full swing with their promises, it is incumbent upon us, as voters, to elect representatives who prioritize the sanctity of our constitution and pledge to work in alignment with the spirit of the law.

During the 60th Birth Anniversary of the Great Fourth, His Majesty quoting Drugyel Zhipa, said, “Foremost in His Majesty’s mind was always the rule of law. It is said that the failure of justice persecutes an individual, but the lack of adherence to the rule of law persecutes an entire nation. The King, country, and people of Bhutan have a common aspiration for our democracy. We aspire for a democracy with the rule of law.”

Therefore, we must resist the allure of short-term, politically expedient promises and instead support political parties that demonstrate a genuine commitment to upholding the Constitution and fostering the nation’s long-term prosperity. Our actions should mirror the respect and reverence that His Majesty holds for the rule of law, as it serves as the bedrock upon which democracy is built.

His Majesty, who emphasized that a nation governed by the rule of law fosters discipline, order, peace, and prosperity. By heeding this wisdom, we can forge a path toward a future where the rule of law reigns supreme, and the tenets of democracy are upheld with unwavering dedication. As we look ahead, let us strive to build a democracy that echoes the aspirations of our beloved monarch, as His Majesty said, “We build a vibrant democracy based on our Constitution, and through it, ensure that powers continue to reach the hands of our people. we strengthen the Rule of Law and through the Rule of Law, we consolidate institutions of check and balance.” Thus, we must uphold the rule of law to build a vibrant democracy.

Sonam Tshering

Lawyer, Thimphu


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are author’s own.