Poor budgeting affects country’s judicial system

Bhutan’s judiciary system has been affected by poor budgeting.

This is according to the Annual Report 2019 of the Judiciary of Bhutan that was released this week.

Given such constraints, the report states that the judiciary is not able to build adequate infrastructure across the country and develop its human resource capacity through provision of timely training and skill development opportunities.

“All these have impacted the ability of the justice system to address its capacity constraints and improve its functioning,” states the report.

For an instance, according to the report, the district courts in the capital needs infrastructural revamp, adequate resources, facilities and equipment to be resourced to a level which enables them to discharge their obligation to provide an effective and efficient system for delivery of justice.

The report also mentions that the judiciary has no financial and budgetary independent functioning of the office. With the mandate spread across the 20 districts and 15 Dungkhags the share of budget it receives from the government to undertake the mandates continue to remain less than a ministry.

For the 11th Five Year Plan, the overall budget ceiling allocated to the judiciary was Nu 623mn, which, according to the judiciary, was way below their proposal. It further stated that the judiciary received a scanty increment of 20% in the 12th Five Year Plan despite the need for more budgets.

According to the annual report, in order to deliver the highest standard of justice, it is imperative for the office to be well equipped both in terms of financial and human resource capacities. However, these form the core challenges which include human resource development challenges.

The report elucidates that the organizational structure of the judiciary is unique from other Constitutional Offices. Drangpons and Drangpon Rabjams are governed by the Judicial Service Act 2007 whereas the AFD personnel, Court Registrars and Bench Clerks are under the Bhutan Civil Service Act 2012.

“The existence of these two Acts in one institute poses the greatest challenge to human resource development and management,” states the report.

Further, with limited authority of the judiciary over human resource management, it states that creating conductive environment for enhanced performance through improved and structured organizational incentives for the judicial personnel remains a challenge.

With change in time, the report states that expansion in the judiciary calls for additional human resources for specific trainings and skills to shoulder the increasing caseload in the courts.

Meanwhile, the courts across the country through court fees, thrimthue, fines and penalties collected Nu 30,356,994.62mn last year.

Although the judiciary cannot cite financial constraint as alibi to deny crucial facilities to courts which are saddled with 9,541 cases in 2019 which saw an increase from 7,910 cases in 2016, while the numbers of case pending has also increased from 1,622 in 2016 to 2,692 in 2019.

Registration of 1,158 criminal cases was recorded with 4,970 civil cases last year. In the civil case category, monetary topped the category with 3,185 cases, followed by 1,266 cases of matrimonial, while in the criminal category, assault, battery and related took the number one spot with 377 cases followed by larceny, robbery, armed robbery and related with 255 cases. There was just one case of bribery and prostitution each.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu