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OPINION-Rebuilding Trust in Countryโ€™s Judiciary: A Call for Reform and Redemption

In a nation where trust in institutions is the bedrock of social cohesion, the recent suspension of two High Court Justices of Bench I, has sent shockwaves through the country. The deliberate miscarriage of justice orchestrated by individuals within the same esteemed institution that upholds the rule of law has left citizens like myself grappling with a profound sense of betrayal. The judiciary, media, and the Office of the Attorney General, institutions we entrust to protect our rights and ensure justice prevails, and dismayed by these revelations, questioning not just the past actions but the future trajectory of these crucial pillars of our society.

The events leading up to this miscarriage of justice have been replayed in the public discourse, highlighting the breakdown in the system that many held in high regard. Whatโ€™s even more concerning is the apparent collusion among three significant institutions โ€“ the Media, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and the Judiciary. These institutions, whose very existence is predicated on principles of accountability, transparency, and fairness, have faltered in their duty. What should have been the guardians of justice have seemingly devolved into participants of a scandalous episode. These are pillars of society that citizens entrust to safeguard justice, provide information, and uphold the rule of law. The erosion of trust in these institutions raises not only questions about their integrity but also about the entire fabric of Bhutanโ€™s democracy.

The Media, often referred to as the Fourth Estate, bears the immense responsibility of informing the public truthfully and objectively. The recent events, however, showcase the potential for manipulation and sensationalism even within this sacred institution. The power to shape public opinion comes with a concomitant duty to remain impartial and vigilant against any undue influence. The mediaโ€™s role in either fanning the flames of sensationalism or perpetuating biased narratives only serves to corrode the publicโ€™s faith in their work.

Equally disheartening is the involvement of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in this debacle. The OAG, tasked with upholding the law and ensuring justice is served, ought to be an unwavering bastion of integrity. The revelation that they were party to the miscarriage of justice raises troubling questions about the ethical foundation on which the institution stands. Their actions have not only betrayed the publicโ€™s trust but have also put into question the motives behind their decisions and actions in other cases.

At the heart of this crisis lies the Judiciary โ€“ the very institution responsible for safeguarding justice and ensuring equality before the law. The suspension of two High Court Justices is a step in the right direction, but it is far from sufficient. For a judiciary that commands respect, a comprehensive introspection and cleansing are imperative. It is not enough to merely weed out the bad actors; the entire system must be examined and revitalized to prevent such a travesty from recurring.

The citizens, like myself, have long prided ourselves on our formidable legal system. We held steadfast in our belief that judges were impartial arbiters of justice, upholding the law without bias or prejudice. The recent revelations shatter this illusion, leaving us disillusioned and questioning whether justice is a privilege only for the privileged. Our faith in the system has been profoundly shaken, and the ramifications extend beyond this particular incident.

For those of us who lack influential connections or vast resources, the role of the judiciary is all the more crucial. It is the last refuge for the marginalized, the vulnerable, and the powerless. The assurance that justice is blind and impartial serves as a beacon of hope in a world often dominated by inequality and injustice. The revelations of collusion and miscarriage of justice not only betray the trust we placed in these institutions but also leave us vulnerable and defenseless.

As Bhutan moves forward, it is imperative that the judiciary embarks on a journey of transformation and redemption. Restoring faith in this institution requires more than disciplinary action against a few individuals. It necessitates a systemic overhaul, where transparency, accountability, and ethical integrity are at the core of every decision made. The process must be transparent and involve not just legal experts but also citizens who have a stake in the outcome.

The road to redemption will undoubtedly be long and arduous, but it is a journey that cannot be sidestepped. The judiciary must rise from the ashes of this scandal, demonstrating a commitment to justice that transcends personal biases and vested interests. Only then can the citizens of Bhutan hope to regain their faith in the institutions that are meant to safeguard their rights and freedoms.

The recent suspension of two High Court Justices in Bhutan has shaken the very foundations of our society. The collusion among the Media, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Judiciary has cast a shadow of doubt over the institutions we once held in high regard. The need for a comprehensive and transformative overhaul is paramount if these institutions are to regain the trust they have lost. As ordinary citizens, we must demand accountability, transparency, and a commitment to justice that is unwavering. It is only through such a collective effort that we can hope to restore faith in our justice system and ensure a just and equitable future for all.

Tashi Dorji

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