The Judiciary

The Judiciary

The Judicial system of Bhutan is comprised of a three-tier hierarchy i.e. the Sub-Divisional Court, the District-Court and the High-Court. People can approach His Majesty the King for pardon/commutation of sentences. The courts have both Appellate and Original jurisdiction, besides being courts of general jurisdiction, dealing with both civil and criminal cases.
With the establishment of the High-Court in 1968, consisting of the Thrimchi Lyonpo (Chief Justice) and seven Drangpons (Judges), and Thrimkiduensa (Courts) in all 20 Dzongkhags (Districts), and three Dungkhag Thrimkiduensas (Sub-Divisional-Courts), the Judicial system has been separated from the Executive and Legislative branches of the Royal Government. The Courts in each District and Sub-Division is headed by a Drangpon (Judge) and assisted by Drangpon Ramjams (Assistant Judges). Minor disputes, however, are settled by Barmis (Mediators) at the village level.

The laws of the country have been codified in the Thrimzhung Chhenmo (Supreme Law), which was enacted by the National Assembly during several sessions in the 1950s, and some subsequent Acts passed by the National Assembly provides the basis for the administration of justice.

Bhutans Legal Code is based on a code laid down by Ngawang Namgyal, the first Shabdrung who arrived in Bhutan in 1616. Traditional Buddhist precepts are significantly maintained in the legal processes.

The Cabinet

The Lhengye Zhungtshog (Cabinet ) was established in 1968. With the devolution of power by His Majesty King Jugme Singye Wangchuck in 1998. The Cabinet is now the highest executive body in the country. It consists of the Council of Ministers and members of the Lodey Tshogdey (Royal Advisory Council). Its members are collectively responsible to His Majesty the King and the Tshogdu (National Assembly).

Royal Advisory Council

The Lodey Tshogdey (Royal Advisory Council or RAC) was formally established in1965 to advise the King and government ministers and to supervise the implementation of programmes and policies laid down by the National Assembly. The Royal Advisory Council continues to be a consultative and advisory body. There are nine members of the Royal Advisory Council including the Chairman. Six members are elected representatives of the public, two elected representatives of the clergy, and one nominated by the government who functions as a Chairman of the Council. The current Chairman Dasho Rinzin Gyaltshen was appointed in July 1998.

The Monastic Body

Given the long religious history of the country, The Dratshang (Monastic Body), continues to play an important role in the spiritual and cultural lives of the people. It not only engages in religious practices, but also participates in important state institutions such as the Tshogdu (National Assembly) and the Lodey Tshogdey (Royal Advisory Council).

The Monastic Body comprises of the Central Monastic Body and the District Monastic Bodies. The current strength of the Monastic Body is about 5,000 registered monks and is financed by an annual grant front the Royal Government. The Monastic Body is the sole arbiter on religious matters. His Holiness, Je Khenpo is chosen from amongst high-ranking monks. He is the head of the Monastic Body and is assisted by four high-ranking monks.
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