Thimphu Court to have specialized benches

Of the 18,720 cases registered for adjudication last year, 18,523 cases decided

Judiciary: In a move to reform the judicial service delivery, Thimphu District courts will have specialized benches designated based on the nature of cases, sometime this year.

Two benches will be designated as criminal benches, two as commercial and one bench will cater to family, child and civil cases.

The need for specialized benches seems relevant and timely, going by case statistics for the last two years.

As usual, matrimonial and divorce, and monetary cases top the list, followed by other criminal cases like assault and battery, larceny, robbery, cases pertaining to protected species and harmful substances, as revealed in the annual report of the judiciary.

judiciaryLast year, the Judiciary came across 10,719 civil, of which 5,347 are 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 saw an increase from 93 cases to 266.

Although rapes 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.

Including pending cases from 2014, the High Court admitted 445 appeal cases and the judgments of 36 cases were reversed, 85 partially reversed and 244 affirmed. There are 80 cases pending as of December 2015.

From the 142 cases with the Supreme Court, eight are still with the registry, 52 have been dismissed and the parties withdrew 21 cases.

Again, two cases were remanded and judgements of 10 cases were totally reversed. The Supreme Court is left with 30 pending cases.

In total, 24,211 cases 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.

Reforms to bring about judicial accountability is also proposed for this year.

The annual report states that the justices of the Supreme Court would divide among themselves the district courts, each justice looking after five district courts.

This is to ensure that the justices make regular visits to the courts to attend hearings and check judgments. The justices would then submit a confidential report to the Chief Justice of Supreme Court on the behaviour, capability, courtroom control and the conduct of judges to generate a track record of the judges in the dzongkhags.

Tshering Dorji

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