Bhutan drafts code of judges

The Supreme Court of Bhutan has drafted a Judicial Accountability Guidelines 2017 following the pressure of judicial bias on Sonam Phuntsho case.

The guidelines gives power to individual citizens to file complaint against judges if they feel judge in High Court and Supreme Court being bias. The complaints would be investigated.

Judges, if found guilty, can face anything from reprimand and suspension to even termination without retirement benefits, depending on the nature of the offence.

Judicial Services Act 2007 only allows for complaints and investigations against district level judges. However, the complaints and investigation would not be made public.

A complaint should be filed with Registrar General of the Supreme Court. The complaint should be in writing and person as complaints filed anonymously will not be admitted.

The complaints could be on lack of judicial temperament, repeated lack of dress code, habitual absence from duties, dereliction of officially assigned functions, neglect of duty, non-compliance with or non-enforcement or non-implementation of lawful and proper orders, directives without justifiable reasons, abuse of official authority, position, or violation of the Judicial Service Act, habitual drunkenness, use of drugs, physical incapacity or mental aberrations, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude and sexual harassment, exploitation or taking advantage of the litigants.

Phuntsho, a close relative of the Chief Justice, used his family relation to influence the judicial verdict whereby a senior journalist of the country had to leave the country.

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