Yangchen C Rinzin

Following the agreement among the members, the Legislative Committee of the National Council will start drafting the first-ever Civil Liability or Torts Act. The Act will be tabled in the coming session.

Citing 16 examples where mishaps occurred in the recent past but no accountability was held, the Legislative Committee proposed to enact a Civil Liability or Torts Act on June 6.

Although many unfortunate accidents occurred resulting in death, injury, and loss of public property, concerned parties have refused to take responsibility and relevant authorities failed to take necessary action against the tortfeasors.

So the Act, if enacted, would address the ongoing predicament faced by the victims of such civil wrongs.

It was also found that despite having relevant provisions for the initiation of criminal proceedings, no criminal prosecutions have been undertaken so far to hold responsible individuals or agencies or companies accountable for the wrongs committed.

The committee had submitted that there was also weak implementation and enforcement of the laws by the relevant agencies such as police, Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the courts, which lead to people losing trust in the legal system.

This is why the House felt there was a need to come up with Tort Act to address the civil wrongs. The Tort Act will give victims the option to file a civil or tort suit to seek remedies for wrongful death, injury or loss of property.

The House yesterday also passed two resolutions that will be submitted to the government.

The House calls on the government to strictly enforce the applicable laws such as the Bhutan Electricity Act, the Labour and Employment Act, and the Consumer Protection Act to avoid health and safety hazards to the general public.

The House also resolved to call on the government to direct the relevant law enforcement agencies to strictly implement the criminal provisions to hold the responsible individuals or agencies or companies accountable for the wrongs committed in the case of criminal cases.

Explaining the need for such resolutions, Member of Parliament of Tsirang, Dhan Kumar Sunwar, said that it was a concern that numerous incidences of negligent deaths and grave injuries to victims had occurred as well as loss and damage to public properties due to preventable fires and other accidents.

He added that there were also cases of employment of minors in drayangs under hazardous and exploitative conditions, which pose a grave risk to their lives and health, including drayang employees.

“These deaths, injuries and damage results from poor or substandard quality of construction works carried by responsible individuals and their failure to eliminate health and safety risks at the workplaces,” MP said. “This clearly shows that despite there are existing Acts to take care of such mishaps, it was never implemented.”

Dhan Kumar Sunwar said that it was also partly due to failure on the part of the relevant government agencies to carry out a proper inspection in accordance with the applicable laws.

He added that the Committee found that the relevant law enforcement agencies have failed to strictly implement the criminal provisions or initiate criminal proceedings to hold responsible individuals or agencie or companies accountable for their wrongs despite the existence of relevant laws.

The two resolutions will ensure that police who usually deal with such criminal cases hold those responsible and prosecute the case and implement the provisions as per the Penal Code of Bhutan.

All the 22 members present voted in favour of the resolutions.