Jabmi bill goes to joint siting

Parliament: The Jabmi (amendment) Bill 2015 will be moved in a joint sitting next session, after the two houses couldn’t agree on some sections of the bill. The decision was taken in the National Assembly yesterday.

One of the sections the two houses couldn’t agree was on whether Jabmis should undergo compulsory national legal course in Bhutan after graduating from law colleges under Section 23 of the bill.

While the National Council found the requirement unnecessary, the National Assembly felt the section that requires law graduates to undergo the course should be retained. Assembly members said the national legal course helped lawyers learn Dzongkha and national laws.

Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji said it was important for Jabmis to be equipped with knowledge on national laws. “There is a risk that lawyers would not take interest in national laws if the course was not necessary,” he said.

The national legal course, Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi, said had played an important role in promotion of the national language in the country. “Our lawyers know Dzongkha today because the course is compulsory,” he said.

The Assembly also retained the provision on the establishment of Jabmi Thuentshog (Bar Association).

According to the bill, the Jabmi Tshogdey (Bar Council) will have a secretariat to assist in the discharge of its functions. The Council’s recommendation states that the Jabmi Tshogdey shall receive adequate resources from the state.

The Council also suggested that the Jabmi Tshogdey should provide Pro Bono legal aid services in addition to funding support from the state. Most of the Assembly members agreed with the principle of the clause, but they did not endorse the Council’s recommendation stating that further discussions were needed.

The Council had also recommended that the Jabmi Tshogdey should recommend the National Judicial Commission or Royal Judicial Council for the appointment of drangpons from amongst the eminent jurists, except for the appointment of other judicial personnel. However, the Assembly could not agree on the Council’s recommendation stating that it could breach the independence of judiciary.

The bill also states that a person who does not pass the bar examinations or possess a degree in law would not be allowed to practice as a Jabmi. However, the Assembly incorporated a new section which states Jabmi Tshogdey shall regulate the practice of law by a lawyer who does not posses a certificate of Jabmi and other practitioners without a law degree.

Another disputed section is on whether retired drangpons could practice before a court of law as a Jabmi. While the Council decided against it, the Assembly said they should be allowed.

MB Subba

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