The judiciary has begun undertaking vital review and reforms. What this indicates is that people’s expectations from the institution has evolved. This is a good development. Administration of justice must evolve to suit the changing times.
The Constitution says that the judiciary shall safeguard, uphold, and administer Justice fairly and independently without fear, favour, or undue delay in accordance with the Rule of Law to inspire trust and confidence and to enhance access to justice. It is a tall mandate that the judiciary must effectively and efficiently achieve. The worse the judiciary can do is lose public trust.
The justice system will have to handle complex problems as we continue to develop. This will demand judicial competency, which will require special institutional arrangements. In this light, reform is of paramount interest for both the judiciary and the public.
Reforms in the judiciary began with the establishment of the specialised benches at Thimphu District Court last year to bring about uniformity, accuracy, precision and predictability of judgement and interpretation of law. What this should lead ultimately to is achieving greater credibility, transparency and integrity of the justice system. At a time when people have started doubting the credibility and professionalism of judges, these initiatives bring so much hope for positive development.
Come Friday, the judiciary will adopt the Judicial Responsibility and Accountability Regulations, a system where judges and court personnel can be held accountable for violation of court rules, policies and codes of conduct or other corrupt and unprofessional behaviour. What this means is the people can now file complaints against judges or court personnel on the grounds of irresponsibility.
Judicial accountability is important to maintain its credibility.
Recognising that improving delivery of judicial services and enhancing user satisfaction is critical, the judiciary is beginning to undertake automation of services with support from G2C office. This is an important development that will facilitate easy access and efficient delivery of judicial service. Poor service delivery can lead to people losing trust in the institution.
The current reforms in the judiciary point to a maturing society. Many more reforms will follow in time. As in the words of His Majesty The King: “There is a need to continue to improve the legal system through timely and appropriate reforms and proactive initiatives.”