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High uphold rates, as cases move up, show high lower court standards 

 Annual Report 2012: With the high court upholding about 70 percent of the cases appealed to its two benches, and Supreme Court upholding 75 percent of the appealed cases last year, the judiciary, in its annual report, concluded that most of the lower courts in dzongkhags and dungkhags had followed proper judicial process and fair trial.

The annual judiciary report for 2012, released last week, also indicated that the general view of people that the same law is interpreted differently in different courts is also incorrect.

Of the 232 cases in high court’s bench one, the court affirmed 116 cases.  There was partial reversal on 37 cases, and 12 cases were fully reversed.

In high court’s bench two, of the 245 cases, 135 cases were affirmed.  There was partial reversal on 48 cases, whereas 11 cases were fully reversed.

The Supreme Court affirmed 93 cases of the 175 cases last year, after reviewing the petition of appeal and discussions during the conference of justices.  The court registered 161 cases last year, excluding the 14 cases pending from 2011.

The court also reversed partial judgment of the lower court on eight cases, whereas 11 cases were fully reversed.

The full and partial reversal of cases, the report also stated, shows that the misconception among people that the higher courts affirm judgments of all lower courts.


Supreme Court

161- cases registered excluding
14 cases from 2011

93- cases affirmed

37-cases accepted for regular hearing out of 119 miscellaneous hearings

8-partial reversal

11-full reversal

6-cases remanded

6-cases withdrawn

51-Balance cases

Source: ANNUAL REPORT OF THE JUDICIARY OF BHUTAN, 2012

A judge, who did not want to be named, said higher courts keep a record of all the cases that are appealed from all lower courts, and that would give a statistic on which courts follow due process of law and conduct a fair trial.

A law practitioner said it is important for judiciary to maintain such records, and reveal the statistics, to encourage courts that follow due process of law strictly and conduct fair trials.

Some judges in the lower courts, however, share a different view.

A judge said higher courts just reduce the sentence of a case by a year or half, and state it as partial reversal in the judiciary report.

“If the higher courts intend to make a difference in the process of trial, they have to first straighten out what is partial reversal,” another judge said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court conducted 119 miscellaneous hearings and accepted 37 matters for regular hearing.

The judiciary report stated that the court reviews any appeal cases during the miscellaneous hearing, and discuss them in weekly conference to either dismiss or admit the appeal.

The new system of appeal, according to the report, is to tackle the numerous appeal cases, which the judiciary report stated, was misused by people to delay justice.

By Tashi Dema

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