Sonam Chukey 

Lack of financial and budgetary independence in judiciary affects its independent functioning, according to judiciary’s annual report 2019.

The report, which was launched by the officiating Chief Justice Kuenlay Tshering on January 15, stated that judiciary is a branch of the government with its mandate spread in 20 dzongkhags and 15 drungkhags but the share of budget it receives continue to be less than a ministry.

It stated that in the 11th Plan, the overall budget judiciary received from the government was Nu 623 million and in 12th Plan, it was 20 percent more than the 11th Plan. “Given such constraints, the judiciary is not able to build adequate infrastructure in the country and develop its human resource capacity through timely training and skill development opportunities.”

Except for Paro court, which is housed inside the dzong along with dzongkhag administration, all the courts in the country have independent structure. In 2019, construction of two dzongkhag courts were completed and construction of three new court structures began.

According to the report, judiciary generated more than Nu 30 million in last year through court fees, thrimthue, fines and penalties.

Meanwhile, a minimum of 26 cases were registered in a day throughout the courts last year. A total of 9,541 cases were registered last year along with 2,692 pending cases from 2018.

The report stated that decisions were made for 9,216 cases.

Amongst the cases, monetary cases topped the list with 3,185 cases registered in 2019. There were 1,158 criminal cases and 4,970 civil cases.

Of the 1,827 cases decided from drungkhag courts, 115 cases appealed to dzongkhag courts and from 6,606 cases decided in dzongkhag courts, 646 appealed to the High Court.

Thimphu and Phuentsholing saw the maximum registration of cases, which is attributed to higher population and concentration of economic and social activities.

The report stated that judiciary is required to achieve five key areas, which are public service delivery, public satisfaction in judicial services, timely justice services, access to quality infrastructure and capacity development of judicial personnel. “In the 12th Plan, public service delivery is identified as one of the important areas for improvement.”