Thinley Namgay

The surge in mediated disputes, a substantial 6,256 cases last year, underscores the growing traction and indispensability of the Nangkha Nangdrig (mutual internal settlement) system in alleviating the burden on the courts.

The cases found resolution through the concerted efforts of 205 gewogs, thromde thuemis, paralegals, and court-annexed mediation units (CAMU), as outlined in the 2023 Bhutan National Legal Institute’s (BNLI) annual report.

Nangkha Nangdrig has transitioned seamlessly into a mainstream justice service, offering accessible, pertinent, and prompt services, ultimately slashing the time expended by litigants and the courts.

The report accentuates how Nangkha Nangdrig has not only streamlined justice services but has also nurtured a restorative judicial approach, enriching the legal landscape.

In its current iteration, Nangkha Nangdrig applies to an array of cases encompassing matrimonial, monetary, contractual, land, inheritance, and defamation issues. The pivotal role played by CAMUs in the last five years has been instrumental in fortifying justice services since October 2019.

According to the 2023 Annual Report of the Royal Courts of Justice, out of the 7,549 cases on record across the nation, CAMUs played a crucial role in resolving 1,926 disputes.

This constitutes nearly 26 percent of the cases settled through CAMUs in 2023. Of the 1,926 cases resolved by CAMUs last year, matrimonial cases led the tally with 1,223, followed by 396 monetary cases and 64 land cases, among others.

A granular look at dzongkhag courts reveals that Thimphu’s family and child bench took the lead with 349 mediated cases, trailed by Paro with 177 and Mongar with 176. Among the 15 Drungkhag courts, Gelephu mediated 73 cases, followed by Tashicholing with 47 and Wamrong with 43.

Comparatively, the courts had successfully resolved 1,474 and 994 cases in 2022 and 2021, respectively, through the facilitation of CAMUs. In 2023, a commendable total of 3,945 disputes were tactfully negotiated and settled by local functionaries within the Gewogs.

The Court-Annexed Mediation System operates by having judges refer suitable civil cases to the CAMU for judicial mediation, marking a pivotal step towards a more efficient and accessible legal process.

This flourishing culture of Nangkha Nangdrig echoes through the centuries, underlining its enduring significance in the bedrock of the Bhutanese legal system.