Legal: The Supreme Court issued a compoundable sentence of a one-month prison term to Bhutan Law Services’ lawyer Younten Dorji for contempt of court and suspended him for a year from practice yesterday.

The lawyer was representing Aum Lhaden Pema Dorji in the Tashi company property dispute case, for which the Supreme Court issued a judgment yesterday.

During the closing arguments hearing, the lawyer had sought the recusal of the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Thrimchi Tshering Wangchuk from the case. Among the numerous allegations, Younten Dorji alleged the Chief Justice of being biased against his client and of conflict of interest. The lawyer alleged that the Chief Justice had scolded the Justices of the High Court for giving an inferior judgment, which the Supreme Court had to redo.

The High Court judgment was in favour of his client as it declared that his client was the major stakeholder of the companies and the sole heir to the late Dasho Ugyen Dorji’s other properties.

The lawyer has to refrain from all sorts of legal practice and any misdeeds or else the Court will dispense further appropriate penalties.

On completion of the suspension, he can practice at the dzongkhag courts for a year. On the completion of the yearlong practice at the dzongkhag courts, he can then practice at the High Court.

To practice in the Supreme Court he will have to seek approval before taking up a case.

The Supreme Court stated that the allegations were unsubstantiated and baseless biases of the legal representative.

Its verdict stated that accepting the recusal would set a wrong precedence as legal representatives could use such practices to unnecessarily prolong a trial and could hamper administration of justice, which is against the code of ethics, and harass the opponents.

“While the Chief Justice could recuse and avoid any of the false allegations, he had the mandate to uphold the duties and accountabilities enshrined in the Constitution,” the Supreme Court verdict stated.

According to section 30 of the Jabmi Act and Article 1, section 10 of the Constitution, lawyers are promoted to the post of Drangpon after they have served for 10 years.

“Likewise, the legal representatives should have at least 10 years of experience to practice in the Supreme Court,” the Supreme Court stated in its ruling. This excludes the legal officers in government agencies.

Tshering Palden