The judiciary received 8,577 cases last year on top of the 2,367 pending cases from 2017, taking the number of cases to 10,979 of which 8,542 cases were decided.

The Supreme Court’s (SC) registrar general, Tshering Dorji, revealed the figures yesterday while releasing the annual report.

He said that although there are 2,402 pending cases, only 202 cases are pending beyond 12 months, which were affected by delayed forensic report, signature or thumb impression verifications from experts outside the country and complexities of cases where the litigants have absconded and inability to trace the victim.

The registrar general clarified that there is no written mandate where the judges have to close a case within a year but it was based on a resolution the judges made in the 18th judiciary conference where they decided to complete a case by 18 months. “Since it worked out well, we reduced the time to 12 months.”

Of the total cases, 7,310 were civil and 1,232 were criminal. In civil cases, 3,218 were monetary cases followed by matrimonial cases.

The report stated that the number of monetary cases increased by eight percent last year than 2017. “But from this year, we are going to segregate monetary cases to financial institution and private money lending cases,” Tshering Dorji said.

Criminal cases dropped by 14 percent last year than 2017. Assault and battery topped the list with 366 cases.

Thimphu and Phuentsholing courts had the highest number of registered cases and judiciary attributes it to the higher population with more economic and social activities.

It was learnt that 26 percent of the registered cases are in Thimphu courts followed by Wangduphodrang and Paro.

The report also specified the financial and human resources challenges judiciary faced.

“The organisational structure of the judiciary is unique from other constitutional offices and the drangpons and drangpon rabjams are governed by the Judicial Service Act 2007 whereas the administration and finance division (AFD) personnel, court registrars and bench clerks are under the Bhutan Civil Service Act 2010,” it stated.

The existence of these two Acts in one institute poses challenges to human resource development and management, the report stated. “With the limited authority of the judiciary over the human resource management, creating a conducive environment for enhanced performance through improved and structured organisational incentives for the judicial personnel remains a challenge.”

The registrar general explained that the amendment of either of the two Acts is a solution.

“The judiciary experiences rising attrition of senior and experienced personnel, including drangpons from the service to better financial and professional opportunities,” the report stated. “Judiciary calls for additional human resources for specific training and skills to shoulder the increasing caseloads.”

The report also stated judiciary has no financial and budgetary independence. Judiciary was allocated Nu 623M in 11th Plan and an increase of 20 percent in the 12th Plan.

Tashi Dema