How courts work in Bhutan?

This week a news appeared me on Kuensel that astonished me. If that’s a true news, I am really shocked to learn the idea of justice delivery in the country I was born in.

The blockade of Bhutanomics website had invited a heated debate recently and raised questioned the hiding objectives of the ruling government on its stand on freedom of expression. Having observed the historical incidents, one cannot absolutely disregard the fact that it was the government who ordered to block Bhutanomics in Bhutan.

As time lapsed, the story has taken a new twist. A local court in southern district of Phuentsholing ordered the blockade of the website. According to Kuensel, the court had received a defamation complain from individual against the website.

The website owners seems to be unaware of the development. The government might be. But the government was in right position that it did not order to block it.

If the news has truth, there is no hiding reason for us to believe how autocratic are the Bhutanese courts. They are for sure, lacked basic procedures of delivering justice. We can, without doubt, raise question how the orders were issued without the defendants knowing what’s going against them.

Even without considering what legal provisions a country has, fundamental principle of justice delivery system implies that defendants and plaintiff must appear in court to put in their points for and against the case.

In addition, one more news this week, further clarifies how flawed the judiciary system in the country is and how it is being controlled by the powerful people. The people from Trashigang decided to travel to Thimphu to plea Chief Justice Sonam Tobgay to reconsider the verdict issued by Mongar court against Home Minister Minjur Dorji and Speaker Jigme Tshultim.

I have never learnt to this day that people can appeal to Chief Justice, justice or a judge against any verdicts. Principally, a petition against any verdict is filed in court not with any individual working in the system. Does Chief Justice have the authority to look into the case? Has he got the power to accept the petition?

No. Not at all. It is the court that can accept the petition against any court verdict. And by constitution, the High Court is appropriate institution to look into petitions.

Some defendants of the Gyalpozhing case have filed their case at the High Court so far. That’s welcome and we wish the court will issue verdict in favour of the truth.

The question is about the way judiciary worked. The idea people supports proposed portrays the image that justice in Bhutan is what powerful people say rather than any process and principles in place. It is not the institution that delivers justice, it is the individual – the event has proven. It now rests on how Sonam Tobgay wants the judiciary system in the country to develop – whether he wants to rein the system or let the system work on its own.

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