… Police expect to complete the investigation today

Rinzin Wangchuk 

As the Thimphu City Police are close to completing their investigation on security breaches at the Supreme Court (SC), the judiciary has beefed up security on court premises starting this week.

The new measures are taken following the recent stabbing and assault incident at the SC premises.

The Registrar General of the SC on May 5 notified all the courts across the country to ensure the presence of a minimum of two police personnel in every hearing and police on duty must stand between the parties during the hearing as well as while entering and exiting the courtroom.

The recent incident at the country’s highest appellate court happened as both parties were allowed to go out of the courtroom together after the SC affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Three defendants in the controversial Trongsa land case were not handed over to police as per procedures.

In the notification on the management of security in the court premises, Registrar General (RG) Gembo Dorji stated that police personnel on duty and the concerned bench clerk should ensure a reasonably safe distance between the litigants in the courtroom as well as while entering and exiting the courtroom.

According to some observers, who attended the judgment hearing on April 29, the appellate court didn’t have such security measures in place.

Henceforth, only two to three litigant supporters for each litigant would be allowed to attend the court hearing. “No court shall allow litigant supporters in a group within its premises,” stated the notification.

There were around eight officials from Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which investigated and prosecuted the Trongsa case, and more than 15 people with the defendants’ team at the hearing.

RG Gembo Dorji also notified that all the judges must ensure CCTV cameras are working at all times and judicial staff wear their respective office name tags at all times to ensure easier identification by the police personnel on duty. “All courts shall take such other appropriate initiatives to manage any possible security breached within the court premises,” the Registrar General said.

The SC’s CCTV camera was dysfunctional since April 18. The malfunctioned CCTV network was fixed two days later. RG Gembo Dorji said that there was a problem with a wire connection.

RG Gembo said that he had written to the VVIP Police SP and OC on April 27 to improve the security system in general at the appellate court premises. Both security officials met with the RG and discussed the issue the next day.

An official from the crime and operations division of RBP said they were not informed about the notification issued to the courts.  “I think the court issued notification while police were investigating the case,” he said.

Meanwhile, the investigations on internal lapses from the judiciary and police, and the assault case are expected to complete today. “Based on our findings, accountability should be fixed on those who were responsible for security lapses,” the official said.