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With the completion of trainings on environmental adjudication and litigation for the legal fraternity, the judiciary is preparing to take up environmental disputes professionally.

After the two-day workshop on environmental adjudication for the judiciary that ended last week, another two-day workshop on environmental litigations for lawyers from various departments and agencies ended recently in Thimphu.

Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI) organsied the workshop with support from an Australian based international law firm: White & Case.

The workshop also discussed about Australian experience on environmental issues. Aimed at building capacity of law practitioners, the workshop is expected to equip legal professionals with the tool to boost professionalism in environmental litigation.

With the environmental court, Green Bench already established and the Green Bench Book in its draft, the judiciary is readying to hear environmental cases, BNLI officials said.

“Environmental disputes are different in nature, and building the capacity of the judges to adjudicate and the lawyers to litigate was mandatory,’’ the Director General of BNLI, Lobzang Rinzin Yargay said.

The green bench, which is aimed to ensure environmental justice, was established with two judges at the High Court on June 2, 2015. 

“What should the court do if environmental case is filed at Nganglam Dungkhag court, some 500 kilometers away from Thimphu? Will the case be forwarded all the way to the High Court?” Haa Judge Jangchuk Norbu (PhD) asked at the workshop. 

Sarpang’s judge Pelden Wangmo suggested a clear-cut role of the district and dungkhag court should the environmental case reach the local jurisdiction. Jommotshangkha dungkhag judge Jigme Norbu said a regional bench involving three to four judges in the region be formed to discuss the merit of the environmental case before taking adjudicating.

Among others, Pemagatshel judge Tharchean said involvement of experts was necessary in adjudicating environmental cases.

Acting Chief Justice of the High Court, Sangay Khandu said environmental issues are not new and the choice to approach green bench or the regional court must be left to the concerned parties.

Tshering Namgyal

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