Judiciary: Dedicating it to 10 years of His Majesty The King’s reign, Supreme Court Chief Justice Thrimchi Tshering Wangchuk inaugurated specialised benches at the Thimphu dzongkhag court yesterday.

The dzongkhag court now has two benches for criminal cases, a bench each for civil, commercial and family- and child-related cases.

“The reform is initiated with the belief and conviction that specialised benches will facilitate in rendering speedy, fair and just adjudication in all criminal matters and corruption cases prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General and monetary matters emanating from the financial institutions, family, and child related disputes and other civil disputes,” Lyonpo Tshering Wangchuk said.

The specialisation is expected to bring about uniformity, accuracy, precision, predictability of judgment and informed interpretation of the laws.

“Above all, the judges should enhance the trust and confidence of the people in the justice delivery system,” the Chief Justice said.

The rule-making powers under the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code’s section 30 for the purpose of giving effect to the Article 21, section 1 of the Constitution establishes specialised benches in the dzongkhag court.

Senior judges will be transferred to these benches and will serve a two-year term. In case of conflict of interest, the Chief Judge who sits in one of the two criminal benches, will reassign the case.

Matrimonial and money lending cases top the list of cases in the country. These are followed by other criminal cases like assault and battery, larceny, robbery, cases pertaining to protected species and harmful substances, according to the Annual Report of the Judiciary 2015.

In 2015, 10,719 civil cases reached the judiciary, of which 5,347 were monetary cases, an increase of six percent compared with 2014. This was followed by 4,733 matrimonial and divorce cases, a corresponding decrease of six percent.

While land and inheritance cases have slightly increased, defamation cases witnessed a substantial drop from 126 cases in 2014 to 48 last year.

With regard to criminal cases, the judiciary dealt with 1,882 cases of assault and battery, the highest, albeit a five percent decrease in comparison with 2014.

Cases pertaining to protected species or harmful substances decreased from 1,855 cases to 1,156, a drop of 38 percent. But embezzlement and bribery cases saw an increase from 93 cases to 266.

Although rape and sexual offenses dropped by 27 percent and 34 percent respectively, the courts saw the number of prostitution cases increase from 18 to 45, a jump of 150 percent.

Murder cases halved last year from 68 in 2014, but four terrorism cases were registered against none in 2014. Cases pertaining to firearms and weapons also increased from 19 to 52 cases last year.

Altogether 24,211 cases, including dzongkhag courts, the High Court, and the Supreme Court, were filed last year, of which 18,720 were registered for adjudication and 1,319 cases were brought forward from the previous year.

It was also highlighted that judgments for 18,523 cases were passed in the year and almost 78 percent of cases were decided in less than 108 days.

However, there are 1,516 pending cases, of which 46 have been pending beyond a year.

Until yesterday, the Thimphu dzongkhag court had five benches and a Public Notary Office and cases are distributed to the benches in chronological order.

Tshering Palden