Thinley Namgay  

The National Assembly (NA) withdrew the Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan 2024 yesterday.

The Bill is expected to be deliberated in future sessions. 

The Legislative Committee’s chairperson, Kuenga, moved the motion to withdraw the Bill; it was supported by all the members.

Kuenga said the Committee held comprehensive discussions on the Bill with relevant institutions.

The Bill, he said, could not be discussed in the current session as the Committee was yet to discuss the suggestions.

According to the Constitution, the Parliament can impeach constitutional office holders. Bhutan is yet to enact an Impeachment Act unlike many other countries.

Article 32 of the Constitution states that the holders of constitutional offices shall be removed only by way of impeachment by Parliament.

Article 32 mentions that the holder of a constitutional office can be impeached on the grounds of incapacity, incompetency, or serious misconduct with the concurrence of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of Parliament. 

If the Impeachment Act is endorsed by the Parliament in the future, it would not only hold constitutional post holders accountable but also insulate constitutional post holders from potential arbitrary impeachment attempts by parliamentarians.

The Chief Justice of Bhutan, drangpons of the Supreme Court, chief justices and drangpons of the High Court, Chief Election Commissioner, Auditor General, and Chairpersons of the Royal Civil Service Commission, and Anti-Corruption Commission are considered the constitutional office bearers.

The Impeachment Procedure Bill is also recommended by the Law Review Taskforce and the Office of the Attorney General. 

The Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan was passed in the 23rd session of the National Council (NC) in 2019 and was forwarded to the NA for deliberation.

The NC, in line with Article 32 of the Constitution, drafted the Bill.

However, in 2020, the NA decided that the Bill could be introduced at an appropriate time in the future as per requirement and also encompass other aspects.

The NC then had to withdraw the Bill in 2022. The NA asked the NC to withdraw the Bill in accordance with section 18 of the Legislative Rules of Procedure (LRoP) 2017.

Section 18 of the LRoP 2017 says that a Bill passed by one House may be withdrawn by the other House on the grounds of, but not limited to, the legislative proposal covered in the Bill being dropped or a more comprehensive Bill on the same subject being proposed at a later date.

According to the LRoP, where a Bill is passed by the NC and is pending before the NA, the NA may recommend to the NC that leave be granted to withdraw the Bill.

There are 10 chapters and 106 sections in the Bill, which mainly provide the detailed procedures of impeachment.