King’s initiatives for picking up chief justice

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Nov 21: After much delay, king has announced a commission to recommend the chief justice of the Supreme Court, which is provisioned by the constitution.

According to the royal order, Chief Election Commissioner Kunzang Wangdi, Chairperson of Anti Corruption Commission Neten Zangmo, Auditor General Ugyen Chewang, High Court judge Tshering Wangchuk, Attorney General Rinzin Penjor and Chairman of legislative committee MP Ugyen Wangdi have been named the members of the commission.

According to the constitution, the chief justice is appointed by the king on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission. The intention of the royal order seems he has used his authority given by constitution (Article 21[17]).

However, it is a flawed appointment. As per the constitution, the NJC comprise of Chief Justice of Bhutan as Chairperson, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, the Chairperson of the Legislative Committee of the National Assembly and the Attorney General.

This flawed commission will recommend the king a name of the person to be appointed as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The commission will not recommend alternative candidates for the post, according the order. The royal order comes a few days after the chief justice Sonam Tobgye retired from his service.

With the Supreme Court missing from the judicial system, 25 cases were appealed to king last year.

The royal order reads, “Since March 2008, without a Supreme Court, the houses of parliament and other agencies of democratic government have engaged in intense debate, discussions and frequent interaction. As a result, they have already begun to put in place mechanisms for fruitful dialogue, sharing of concerns and cooperation in the national interest, and have found the means to resolve disagreements and disputes in the right spirit. This is an essential and commendable achievement.”

The Supreme Court of Bhutan comprises the chief justice and four justices.

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