Bhutan, Constitution of

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Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan

Preamble

  • We, the People of the Kingdom of Bhutan,
  • Blessed by the Triple Gem, the protection of our guardian deities, the wisdom of our leaders, the everlasting fortunes of the Pelden Drukpa and the guidance of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck;
  • Solemnly pledging ourselves to strengthen the sovereignty of Bhutan, to secure the blessings of liberty, to ensure justice and tranquillity and to enhance the unity, happiness and well being of the people for all time;
  • Do hereby ordain and adopt this Constitution for the Kingdom of Bhutan on the Fifteenth Day of the Fifth Month of the Male Earth Rat Year corresponding to the Eighteenth Day of July, Two Thousand and Eight.

Article I – The Kingdom of Bhutan

  1. Bhutan is a Sovereign Kingdom and the Sovereign power belongs to the people of Bhutan.
  2. The form of Government shall be that of a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy.
  3. The international territorial boundary of Bhutan is inviolable and any alteration of areas and boundaries thereof shall be done only with the consent of not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  4. The territory of Bhutan shall comprise nine Dzongdeys (province) with each Dzongdey consisting of Dzongkhags (prefectures) which, in turn, consist of Gewogs (counties) and Thromdes (municipalities). Alteration of areas and boundaries of any Dzongdey, Dzongkhag, Gewog or Thromde shall be done only with the consent of not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  5. The National Flag, the National Emblem and the National Anthem of Bhutan shall be decreed by Law.
  6. The National Holidays of Bhutan shall be decreed by Law.
  7. Dzongkha is the National Language of Bhutan.
  8. This Constitution is the Supreme Law of the State.
  9. All laws in force in the territory of Bhutan at the time of adopting this Constitution shall continue until altered, repealed or amended by the Gyelyong Tshogdu. However, the provisions of any law, whether made before or after the coming into force of this Constitution, which are inconsistent with this Constitution, shall be null and void.
  10. The Supreme Court shall be the guardian of this Constitution and the final authority on its interpretation.
  11. The rights over mineral resources, rivers, lakes and forests shall be vested in the State and are the properties of the State, which shall be regulated by law.
  12. There shall be separation of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary and no encroachment of each other’s powers is permissible except to the extent provided for by this Constitution.

Article II - The Institution of Monarchy

  1. His Majesty, the Druk Gyalpo, is the Head of State and the symbol of unity of the Kingdom and of the people of Bhutan.
  2. The Cho-sid-nyi of Bhutan shall be unified in the person of the Druk Gyalpo who, as a Buddhist, shall be the upholder of the Cho-sid.
  3. The title to the Golden Throne of Bhutan shall be vested in the legitimate descendants of Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck as enshrined in the inviolable and historic Gyenja of the Thirteenth Day, Eleventh Month of the Earth Monkey Year, corresponding to the Seventeenth Day of December, Nineteen Hundred and Seven and shall:
    1. Pass only to children born of lawful marriage;
    2. Pass by hereditary succession to the direct lineal descendants on the abdication or demise of the Druk Gyalpo, in order of seniority, with a prince taking precedence over a princess, subject to the requirement that, in the event of shortcomings in the elder prince, it shall be the sacred duty of the Druk Gyalpo to select and proclaim the most capable prince or princess as heir to the Throne;
    3. Pass to the child of the Queen who is pregnant at the time of the demise of the Druk Gyalpo if no heir exists under section 3.2;
    4. Pass to the nearest collateral line of the descendants of the Druk Gyalpo in accordance with the principle of lineal descent, with preference being given for elder over the younger, if the Druk Gyalpo has no direct lineal descendant;
    5. Not pass to children incapable of exercising the Royal Prerogatives by reason of physical or mental infirmity; and
    6. Not pass to a person entitled to succeed to the Throne who enters into a marriage with a person other than a natural born citizen of Bhutan.
  4. The successor to the Throne shall receive dar from the Machhen of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal at Punakha Dzong and shall be crowned on the Golden Throne.
  5. Upon the ascension of the Druk Gyalpo to the Golden Throne, the members of the Royal Family, the members of the the Gyelyong Tshogdu and the office holders mentioned in section 19 of this Article shall take an Oath of Allegiance to the Druk Gyalpo.
  6. Upon reaching the age of sixty-five years, the Druk Gyalpo shall step down and hand over the Throne to the Crown Prince or Crown Princess, provided the Royal Heir has come of age.
  7. There shall be, subject to the provision of section 9 of this Article, a Council of Regency when:
    1. The successor to the Golden Throne has not attained the age of twenty-one years;
    2. The Druk Gyalpo has temporarily relinquished, by Proclamation, the exercise of the Royal Prerogatives; or
    3. It has been resolved by not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of the the Gyelyong Tshogdu in a joint sitting that the Druk Gyalpo is unable to exercise the Royal Prerogatives by reason of temporary physical or mental infirmity.
  8. The Council of Regency shall collectively exercise the Royal Prerogatives and the powers vested in the Druk Gyalpo under this Constitution and shall be composed of:
    1. A senior member of the Royal Family nominated by the Privy Council;
    2. The Prime Minister;
    3. The Chief Justice of Bhutan;
    4. The Speaker;
    5. The Leader of the Opposition Party; and
    6. The Je Khenpo.
  9. In the case specified under section 7.2 or 7.3 of this Article, the descendant of the Druk Gyalpo who is the heir presumptive, shall, instead of the Council of Regency, become Regent by right, if the heir presumptive has attained the age of twenty-one years.
  10. The members of the Council of Regency shall take an Oath of Allegiance before the Gyelyong Tshogdu to faithfully discharge their duties.
  11. When the successor to the Golden Throne attains the age of twenty-one years or when the Druk Gyalpo resumes the exercise of the Royal Prerogatives under sections 7.1 and 7.2 of this Article, notice shall be given by Proclamation. However, when the Druk Gyalpo regains the ability to exercise the Royal Prerogatives under section 7.3 of this Article, notice shall be given to that effect by resolution of the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  12. The members of the Royal Family shall be the reigning and past Monarchs, their Queens and the Royal Children born of lawful marriage.
  13. The Druk Gyalpo and the members of the Royal Family shall be entitled to:
    1. Annuities from the State in accordance with a law made by the Gyelyong Tshogdu;
    2. All rights and privileges including the provision of palaces and residences for official and personal use; and
    3. Exemption from taxation on the royal annuity and properties provided for by sections 13.1 and 13.2 of this Article.
  14. There shall be a Privy Council, which shall consist of two members appointed by the Druk Gyalpo, one member nominated by the Lhengye Zhungtshog (Council of Ministers), one member nominated by the Gyelyong Tshongdu, and the Je Khenpo or his delegate. The Privy Council shall be responsible for:
    1. All matters pertaining to the privileges of the Druk Gyalpo and the Royal Family;
    2. All matters pertaining to the conduct of the Royal Family;
    3. Rendering advice to the Druk Gyalpo on matters concerning the Golden Throne and the Royal Family;
    4. All matters pertaining to crown properties; and
    5. Any other matter as may be commanded by the Druk Gyalpo.
  15. The Druk Gyalpo shall not be answerable in a court of law for His actions and His person shall be sacred.
  16. The Druk Gyalpo, in the exercise of His Royal Prerogatives, may:
    1. Award titles, decorations, dar for Lhengye (ministerial position) and Nyi-Kyelma (conferring a red scarf) in accordance with tradition and custom;
    2. Grant citizenship, land kidu (benefit) and other kidus;
    3. Grant amnesty, pardon and reduction of sentences;
    4. Command Bills and other measures to be introduced in the Gyelyong Tshogdu; and
    5. Exercise powers relating to matters which are not provided for under this Constitution or other laws.
  17. The Druk Gyalpo may promote goodwill and good relations with other countries by receiving State guests and undertaking state visits to other nations.
  18. The Druk Gyalpo shall protect and uphold this Constitution in the best interest and for the welfare of the people of Bhutan.
  19. The Druk Gyalpo shall, by warrant under His hand and seal, appoint:
    1. The Chief Justice of Bhutan in accordance with section 4 of Article 21;
    2. The Drangpons (justices) of the Supreme Court in accordance with section 5 of Article 21;
    3. The Chief Justice of the High Court in accordance with section 11 of Article 21;
    4. The Drangpons of the High Court in accordance with section 12 of Article 21;
    5. The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners in accordance with section 2 of Article 24;
    6. The Auditor General in accordance with section 2 of Article 25;
    7. The Chairperson and members of the Royal Civil Service Commission in accordance with section 2 of Article 26;
    8. The Chairperson and members of the Anti-Corruption Commission in accordance with section 2 of Article 27;
    9. The heads of the Defense Forces from a list of names recommended by the Service Promotion Board;
    10. The Attorney General in accordance with section 2 of Article 29;
    11. The Governor of the Central Bank of Bhutan on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;
    12. The Chairperson of the Pay Commission in accordance with section 1 of Article 30;
    13. The Cabinet Secretary on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;
    14. The Secretary General of the Gyelyong Tshogdu on the recommendation of the Royal Civil Service Commission;
    15. Ambassadors and Consuls on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;
    16. The Secretaries to the Royal Government on the recommendation of the Prime Minister who shall obtain nominations from the Royal Civil Service Commission on the basis of merit and seniority and in accordance with other relevant rules and regulations; and
    17. Dzongdags (district administrators) on the recommendation of the Prime Minister who shall obtain nominations from the Royal Civil Service Commission.
  20. The Druk Gyalpo shall abdicate the Golden Throne for willful violations of this Constitution or for being subject to permanent mental disability, on a motion passed by a joint sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu in accordance with the procedure as laid down in sections 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 of this Article.
  21. The motion for abdication shall be tabled for discussion at a sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu if not less than two-thirds of the total number of the members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu submits such a motion based on any of the grounds in section 20 of this Article.
  22. The Druk Gyalpo may respond to the motion in writing or by addressing the sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu in person or through a representative.
  23. The Chief Justice of Bhutan shall preside over the joint sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu mentioned in section 21 of this Article.
  24. If, at such a sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu passes the motion for abdication, then such a resolution shall be placed before the people in a National Referendum to be approved or rejected.
  25. On such a resolution being approved by a simple majority of the total number of votes cast and counted from all the Dzongkhags (district) in the Kingdom, the Druk Gyalpo shall abdicate in favour of the heir apparent.
  26. The Gyelyong Tshogdu shall make no laws or exercise its powers to amend the provisions of this Article and section 2 of Article 1 except through a National Referendum.

Article III - Spiritual Heritage

  1. Buddhism is the spiritual heritage of Bhutan, which promotes the principles and values of peace, non-violence, compassion and tolerance.
  2. Although the Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism is the State religion, the Druk Gyalpo is the protector of all religions in Bhutan.
  3. It shall be the responsibility of religious institutions and personalities to promote the spiritual heritage of the country while also ensuring that religion remains separate from politics in Bhutan. Religious institutions and personalities shall remain above politics.
  4. The Druk Gyalpo shall, on the recommendation of the Five Lopons (teachers), appoint a learned and respected monk ordained in accordance with the Druk-lu, with the nine qualities of a spiritual master and accomplished in ked-dzog (stages of development), as the Je Khenpo.
  5. His Holiness the Je Khenpo shall, on the recommendation of the Dratshang Lhentshog (Commission for Monastic Affairs), appoint monks with the nine qualities of a spiritual master and accomplished in ked-dzog as the Five Lopons.
  6. The members of the Dratshang Lhentshog shall comprise:
    1. The Je Khenpo as Chairman;
    2. The Five Lopons of the Zhung Dratshang (Central Monastic Body); and
    3. The Secretary of the Dratshang Lhentshog, who is a civil servant.
  7. The Zhung Dratshang and the Rabdeys (monasteries) shall continue to receive adequate funds and other facilities from the State.

Article IV – Culture

  1. The State shall endeavour to preserve, protect and promote the cultural heritage of the country, including monuments, places and objects of artistic or historic interest, Dzongs, Lhakhangs, Goendeys, Ten-sum, Nyes, language, literature, music, visual arts and religion to enrich society and the cultural life of the citizens.
  2. The State shall recognize culture as an evolving dynamic force and shall endeavour to strengthen and facilitate the continued evolution of traditional values and institutions that are sustainable as a progressive society.
  3. The State shall conserve and encourage research on local arts, custom, knowledge and culture.
  4. The Gyelyong Tshogdu may enact such legislation as may be necessary to advance the cause of the cultural enrichment of Bhutanese society.

Article V – Environment

  1. Every Bhutanese is a trustee of the Kingdom’s natural resources and environment for the benefit of the present and future generations and it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of the natural environment, conservation of the rich biodiversity of Bhutan and prevention of all forms of ecological degradation including noise, visual and physical pollution through the adoption and support of environment friendly practices and policies.
  2. The Royal Government shall:
    1. Protect, conserve and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country;
    2. Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;
    3. Secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development; and
  3. Ensure a safe and healthy environment.
  4. The Royal Government shall ensure that, in order to conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem, a minimum of sixty percent of Bhutan’s total land shall be maintained under forest cover for all time.
  5. The Gyelyong Tshogdu may enact environmental legislation to ensure sustainable use of natural resources and maintain intergenerational equity and reaffirm the sovereign rights of the State over its own biological resources.
  6. The Gyelyong Tshogdu may, by law, declare any part of the country to be a National Park, Wildlife Reserve, Nature Reserve, Protected Forest, Biosphere Reserve, Critical Watershed and such other categories meriting protection.

Article VI – Citizenship

  1. A person, both of whose parents are citizens of Bhutan, shall be a natural born citizen of Bhutan, regardless of the place of birth.
  2. A person, domiciled in Bhutan on or before the Thirty-First of December Nineteen Hundred and Fifty Eight and whose name is registered in the official record of the Royal Government of Bhutan shall be a citizen of Bhutan by registration.
  3. A person who applies for citizenship by naturalization shall:
    1. Have lawfully resided in Bhutan for at least fifteen years;
    2. Not have any record of imprisonment for criminal offences within the country or outside;
    3. Be able to speak and write Dzongkha;
    4. Have a good knowledge of the culture, customs, traditions and history of Bhutan;
    5. Have no record of having spoken or acted against the Tsawa-sum (King, Country and People);
    6. Renounce the citizenship, if any, of a foreign State on being conferred Bhutanese citizenship; and
    7. Take a solemn Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution as may be prescribed.
  4. The grant of citizenship by naturalization shall take effect by a Royal kasho (written order) of the Druk Gyalpo.
  5. If any citizen of Bhutan acquires the citizenship of a foreign State, his or her citizenship of Bhutan shall be terminated.
  6. Subject to the provisions of this Article and the Citizenship Acts, the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall, by law, regulate all other matters relating to citizenship.

Article VII - Fundamental Rights

  1. All persons shall have the right to life, liberty and security of person and shall not be deprived of such rights except in accordance with the due process of law.
  2. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information.
  3. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of movement and residence within Bhutan.
  4. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to own property, but shall not have the right to sell or transfer land or any immovable property to a person who is not a citizen of Bhutan, except in keeping with laws enacted by the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  5. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
  6. All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal and effective protection of the law and shall not be discriminated against on the grounds of race, sex, language, religion, politics or other status.
  7. A person charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law.
  8. A person shall not be subjected to capital punishment.
  9. A person shall have the right to consult and be represented by a Bhutanese Jabmi (legal council) of his or her choice.
  10. Notwithstanding the rights conferred by this Constitution, nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from subjecting reasonable restriction by law, when it concerns:
    1. The interests of the sovereignty, security, unity and integrity of Bhutan;
    2. The interests of peace, stability and well-being of the nation;
    3. The interests of friendly relations with foreign States;
    4. Incitement to an offence on the grounds of race, sex, language, religion or region;
    5. The disclosure of information received in regard to the affairs of the State or in discharge of official duties; or
    6. The rights and freedom of others.

Article VIII - Fundamental Duties

  1. A Bhutanese citizen shall preserve, protect and defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and unity of Bhutan and render national service when called upon to do so by the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  2. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the duty to preserve, protect and respect the environment, culture and heritage of the nation.
  3. A Bhutanese citizen shall foster tolerance, mutual respect and spirit of brotherhood amongst all the people of Bhutan transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities.
  4. A person shall respect the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  5. A person shall not tolerate or participate in acts of injury, torture or killing of another person, terrorism, abuse of women, children or any other person and shall take necessary steps to prevent such acts.
  6. A person shall have the responsibility to provide help, to the greatest possible extent, to victims of accidents and in times of natural calamity.
  7. A person shall have the responsibility to safeguard public property.
  8. A person shall have the responsibility to pay taxes in accordance with the law.
  9. Every person shall have the duty to uphold justice and to act against corruption.
  10. Every person shall have the duty to act in aid of the law.
  11. Every person shall have the duty and responsibility to respect and abide by the provisions of this Constitution.

Article IX - Principles of State Policy

  1. The State shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.
  2. The State shall endeavour to protect the telephonic, electronic, postal or other communications of all persons in Bhutan from unlawful interception or interruption.
  3. The State shall endeavour to develop and execute policies to minimize inequalities of income, concentration of wealth, and promote equitable distribution of public facilities among individuals and people living in different parts of the Rajadom.
  4. The State shall endeavour to ensure that all the Dzongkhags are treated with equity on the basis of different needs so that the allocation of national resources results in comparable socioeconomic development.
  5. The State shall endeavour to ensure the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
  6. The State shall provide free education to all children of school-going age up to tenth standard and ensure that technical and professional education is made generally available and that higher education is equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  7. The State shall endeavour to take appropriate measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination and exploitation against women including trafficking, prostitution, abuse, violence, harassment and intimidation at work in both public and private spheres.
  8. The State shall endeavour to take appropriate measures to ensure that children are protected against all forms of discrimination and exploitation including trafficking, prostitution, abuse, violence, degrading treatment and economic exploitation.
  9. The State shall strive to create conditions that will enable the true and sustainable development of a good and compassionate society rooted in Buddhist ethos and universal human values.
  10. The State shall provide free access to basic public health services in both modern and traditional medicines.
  11. The State shall endeavour to provide security in the event of sickness and disability or lack of adequate means of livelihood for reasons beyond one’s control.

Article X – The Gyelyong Tshogdu

  1. There shall be a Gyelyong Tshogdu for Bhutan in which all legislative powers under this Constitution are vested and which shall consist of the Druk Gyalpo and the elected representatives of the people.
  2. The election of the members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Laws of the Kingdom.
  3. A person shall not be a member of the Gyelyong Tshogdu as well as of a Local Government at the same time.
  4. The Druk Gyalpo shall summon the first sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu after each general election.
  5. At the commencement of each session of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, the Druk Gyalpo shall be received with Chibdrel (a ceremonial procession to receive and honour distinguished personages and personalities) Ceremony. Each session shall be opened with a Zhugdrel-phunsum tshog-pai ten-drel (traditional ceremony for the acquisition of the triple attributes of grace, glory and wealth during a formal and auspicious occasion) and each session shall conclude with the Tashi-mon-lam (prayers for fulfillment of good wishes and aspirations).
  6. The Druk Gyalpo may address or sit in the proceedings of the Gyelyong Tshogdu as and when deemed expedient.
  7. The Druk Gyalpo may send messages to the Gyelyong Tshogdu as deemed expedient.
  8. The Gyelyong Tshogdu, upon receiving the message, shall, as early as possible, consider the matter referred to in the message and submit its opinion to the Druk Gyalpo.
  9. The Prime Minister shall present an Annual Report on the state of the nation, including legislative plans and the annual plans and priorities of the Royal Government, to the Druk Gyalpo and to the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  10. The Chairperson shall convene an extraordinary sitting of the Gyelyong Tshogdu on the command of the Druk Gyalpo if the exigencies of the situation so demand.
  11. Each Member of the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall have one vote. In case of equal votes, the Chairperson shall cast the deciding vote.
  12. The presence of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall constitute a quorum for a sitting.
  13. Every member of the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall maintain the decorum and dignity of the House and shall desist from acts of defamation and use of physical force.
  14. Except for existing International Conventions, Covenants, Treaties, Protocols and Agreements entered into by Bhutan, which shall continue in force subject to section 10 of Article 1, all International Conventions, Covenants, Treaties, Protocols and Agreements duly acceded to by the Royal Government hereafter, shall be deemed to be the law of the Kingdom only upon ratification by the Gyelyong Tshogdu unless it is inconsistent with this Constitution.
  15. The Gyelyong Tshogdu shall have a maximum of fifty-five members, elected from each Dzongkhag in proportion to its population, provided that no Dzongkhag shall have less than two members or more than seven members, for which purpose the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall, by law, provide for each Dzongkhag to be divided into constituencies through appropriate delimitation, and for the voters in each constituency directly electing one member to the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  16. The number of elected members from each Dzongkhag shall be reapportioned to reflect the changing registered voter population after every ten years, subject to the limitation of a minimum of two and a maximum of seven members from each Dzongkhag.
  17. The Druk Gyalpo shall, by warrant under His hand and seal, confer dakyen (award of rank and responsibility) to the Chairperson.
  18. The Gyelyong Tshogdu shall assemble at least twice a year.

Article XI - Passing of Bills

  1. A Bill passed by the Gyelyong Tshogdu shall come into force upon Assent of the Druk Gyalpo.
  2. When the Druk Gyalpo does not grant Assent to the Bill, He shall return the Bill to the Gyelyong Tshogdu for further deliberation and a vote on the Bill.
  3. Upon deliberation and passing of the Bill, it shall be resubmitted to the Druk Gyalpo for Assent thereto, thereupon Assent shall be granted to the Bill.

Article XII - Formation of Government

  1. The Druk Gyalpo shall confer dakyen to the leader or nominee of the party, which wins the majority of seats in the Gyelyong Tshogdu, as the Prime Minister.
  2. No person shall hold office as Prime Minister for more than two terms.
  3. The Druk Gyalpo shall appoint Ministers from among the members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, or shall remove a Minister on the advice of the Prime Minister.
  4. Not more than two members elected from the electoral constituencies of the same Dzongkhag shall be entitled to be appointed as Ministers.
  5. A vote of no confidence against the Royal Government, if passed by not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, shall require the Government to be dismissed by the Druk Gyalpo.

Article XIII - Interim Government

  • Whenever the Gyelyong Tshogdu is dissolved, the Druk Gyalpo shall appoint an Interim Government to function for a period, which shall not exceed ninety days, to enable the Election Commission to hold free and fair elections.

Article XIV - The Executive

  1. The Royal Government shall protect and strengthen the sovereignty of the Kingdom, provide good governance, and ensure peace, security, well-being and happiness of the people.
  2. The Executive Power shall be vested in the Lhengye Zhungtshog which shall consist of the Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. The number of Ministers shall be determined by the number of Ministries required to provide efficient and good governance. Creation of an additional ministry or reduction of any ministry shall be approved by the Gyelyong Tshogdu. Ministries shall not be created for the purpose only of appointing Ministers.
  3. Subject to sections 16 and 19 of Article 2, the Lhengye Zhungtshog shall aid and advise the Druk Gyalpo in the exercise of His functions including international affairs, provided that the Druk Gyalpo may require the Lhengye Zhungtshog to reconsider such advice, either generally or otherwise.
  4. The Prime Minister shall keep the Druk Gyalpo informed from time to time about the affairs of the State, including international affairs, and shall submit such information and files as called for by the Druk Gyalpo.
  5. The Lhengye Zhungtshog shall be collectively responsible to the Druk Gyalpo and to the Gyelyong Tshogdu.

Article XV - The Judiciary

  1. The Judiciary shall safeguard, uphold, and administer Justice fairly and independently without fear, favour, or undue delay in accordance with the Rule of Law to inspire trust and confidence and to enhance access to Justice.
  2. The judicial authority of Bhutan shall be vested in the Royal Courts of Justice comprising the Supreme Court, the High Court, the Dzongkhag Court, the Dungkhag (sub-prefecture) Court and such other Courts and Tribunals as may be established from time to time by the Druk Gyalpo on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission.
  3. The Chief Justice of Bhutan shall be appointed from among the Drangpons of the Supreme Court or from among eminent jurists by the Druk Gyalpo, by warrant under His hand and seal in consultation with the National Judicial Commission.
  4. The Drangpons of the Supreme Court shall be appointed from among the Drangpons of the High Court or from among eminent jurists by the Druk Gyalpo, by warrant under His hand and seal in consultation with the National Judicial Commission.
  5. Where a question of law or fact is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court, the Druk Gyalpo may refer the question to the Supreme Court for its consideration, which shall hear the reference and submit its opinion to Him.
  6. The Chief Justice of the High Court shall be appointed from among the Drangpons of the High Court or from among eminent jurists by the Druk Gyalpo, by warrant under His hand and seal, on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission.
  7. The Drangpons of the High Court shall be appointed from among the Drangpons of the Dzongkhag Courts or from among eminent jurists by the Druk Gyalpo, by warrant under His hand and seal, on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission.
  8. The independence of the Drangpons of the Supreme Court and the High Court shall be guaranteed, provided that a Drangpon may be censured or suspended by a command of the Druk Gyalpo on the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission for proven misbehaviour, which, in the opinion of the Commission, does not deserve impeachment.
  9. The Druk Gyalpo shall appoint members of the National Judicial Commission by warrant under His hand and seal. The National Judicial Commission shall comprise:
    1. The Chief Justice of Bhutan as Chairperson;
    2. The senior most Drangpon of the Supreme Court;
    3. The Chairperson of the Legislative Committee of the Gyelyong Tshogdu; and
    4. The Attorney General.
  10. Every person has the right to approach the courts in matters arising out of the Constitution or other laws subject to section 23 of Article 7.

Article XVI - Local Governments

  1. Power and authority shall be decentralized and devolved to elected Local Governments to facilitate the direct participation of the people in the development and management of their own social, economic and environmental well-being.
  2. Bhutan shall have Local Governments in each of the nine Dzongdeys comprising the Dzongkhag Tshogdu, the Gewog Tshogde, and the Thromde Tshogde.
  3. The objectives of Local Government shall be to:
    1. Provide democratic and accountable government for local communities;
    2. Ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner;
    3. Encourage the involvement of communities and community organizations in matters of local governance; and
    4. Discharge other responsibilities as may be prescribed by Law made by the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  4. The Dzongkhag Tshogdu shall comprise:
    1. The Gup (head of a Gewog) and Mangmi (deputy head of a Gewog) as the two elected representatives from each Gewog;
    2. One elected representative from the Dzongkhag Thromdu; and
    3. One elected representative from each Dzongkhag Yenlag Thromdes (satellite town).

Article XVII – Elections

  1. Under this Constitution, the general will of the people shall be the basis of government and it shall be expressed through periodic elections.
  2. A person shall have the right to vote by direct adult suffrage through secret ballot at an election if the person is:
    1. A Bhutanese citizen as evidenced by a Citizenship Card;
    2. Not less than eighteen years of age;
    3. Registered in the civil registry of that constituency for not less than one year, prior to the date of the election; and
    4. Not otherwise disqualified from voting under any law in force in Bhutan.
  3. A candidate for an elective office under this Constitution shall:
    1. Be a Bhutanese citizen;
    2. Be registered voter of that constituency;
    3. Be a minimum of twenty-five years and maximum of sixty-five years of age at the time of filing the nomination;
    4. Not receive money or any assistance from foreign sources, be it governmental, non-governmental, private organizations or from private parties or individuals; and
    5. Fulfil the necessary educational and other qualifications prescribed in the Electoral Laws.
  4. A person shall be disqualified as a candidate or a member holding an elective office under this Constitution, if the person:
    1. Is married to a person who is not a citizen of Bhutan;
    2. Is terminated from Public Service;
    3. Is convicted for any criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment;
    4. Is in arrears of taxes or other dues to the Royal Government;
    5. Has failed to lodge accounts of election expenses within the time and in the manner required by law without good reason or justification;
    6. Holds any office of profit under the Royal Government, public companies or corporations as prescribed in the Electoral Laws; or
    7. Is disqualified under any law made by the Gyelyong Tshogdu.
  5. In order to provide for informed choice by the voter, a candidate for an elective office shall file, along with his or her nomination, an affidavit, declaring:
    1. The income and assets of the candidate, spouse and dependent children;
    2. His or her bio-data and educational qualifications;
    3. Records of criminal convictions, if any; and
    4. Whether the candidate is accused in a pending case for an offence punishable with imprisonment for more than one year and in which charges are framed or cognizance is taken by a court of law prior to the date of filing of such a nomination.

Article XVIII - The Royal Audit Authority

  1. There shall be a Royal Audit Authority to audit and report on the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the use of public resources.
  2. The Royal Audit Authority shall be an independent authority headed by the Auditor General who shall be appointed by the Druk Gyalpo from a list of eminent persons recommended jointly by the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Bhutan, the Chairperson of the Gyelyong Tshogdu and the Leader of the Opposition Party.
  3. The Auditor General shall submit an Annual Audit Report to the Druk Gyalpo, the Prime Minister and the Gyelyong Tshogdu.

Article XIX - The Royal Civil Service Commission

  1. There shall be a Royal Civil Service Commission, which shall promote and ensure an independent and apolitical civil service that will discharge its public duties in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner.
  2. The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson and four other members appointed by the Druk Gyalpo from among eminent persons having such qualifications and experience as would enhance the performance of the Commission, from a list of names recommended jointly by the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Bhutan, the Chairperson of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, and the Leader of the Opposition Party.
  3. The Commission shall submit an Annual Report on its policies and performances to the Druk Gyalpo and to the Prime Minister.

Article XX - The Anti-Corruption Commission

  1. There shall be an Anti-Corruption Commission, headed by a Chairperson and comprising two members, which shall be an independent authority and shall take necessary steps to prevent and combat corruption in the Kingdom.
  2. The Chairperson and members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Druk Gyalpo from a list of names recommended jointly by the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Bhutan, the Chairperson of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, and the Leader of the Opposition Party.

Article XXI – Defense

  1. The Druk Gyalpo shall be the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Militia.
  2. The Royal Body Guards shall be responsible for the security of the Druk Gyalpo while the Royal Bhutan Army shall serve as a professional standing army and both forces shall form the core of Bhutan’s defense against security threats.
  3. The Royal Bhutan Police shall, as a trained uniform force under the Ministry of Home Affairs, be primarily responsible for maintaining law and order and prevention of crime, and shall also be considered an important part of the nation’s security force.
  4. The Gyelyong Tshogdu may, by law, require compulsory militia service for adult citizens to strengthen the defence of the country.
  5. The State shall be responsible for the maintenance of the Armed Forces to safeguard the security of the country and the well-being of the nation.
  6. Bhutan shall not use military force against a foreign State except in self-defence or for the purpose of maintaining its security, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Article XXII - The Attorney General

  1. There shall be an Office of the Attorney General, which shall be autonomous, to carry out the responsibilities within the domain and authority of the Royal Government and such other legal matters as may be entrusted to the office.
  2. The Druk Gyalpo shall, by warrant under His hand and seal, appoint an eminent jurist as the Attorney General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
  3. The Attorney General as the chief legal officer shall be the legal advisor to and legal representative of the Royal Government.
  4. The Attorney General shall submit an Annual Report to the Druk Gyalpo and to the Prime Minister.
  5. The Attorney General’s Office shall function in accordance with the Office of the Attorney General’s Act.

Article XXIII - The Pay Commission

  1. There shall be a Pay Commission, headed by a Chairperson, which shall be autonomous and shall be constituted, from time to time, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
  2. The Pay Commission shall recommend to the Royal Government revisions in the structure of the salary, allowances, benefits, and other emoluments of the Royal Civil Service, the Judiciary, the members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu and Local Governments, the holders and the members of constitutional offices and all other public servants with due regard to the economy of the Rajadom and other provisions of this Constitution.
  3. The recommendations of the Commission shall be implemented only on the approval of the Lhengye Zhungtshog and subject to such conditions and modifications as may be made by the Gyelyong Tshogdu.

Article XXIV - Holders of Constitutional Offices

  1. No person shall hold a constitutional office or post under this Constitution unless the person is:
    1. A natural born citizen of Bhutan; and
    2. Not married to a person who is not a citizen of Bhutan.
  2. The holders of constitutional offices under this Constitution shall be:
    1. The Chief Justice of Bhutan and the Drangpons of the Supreme Court;
    2. The Chief Justice and the Drangpons of the High Court;
    3. The Chief Election Commissioner;
    4. The Auditor General;
    5. The Chairperson of the Royal Civil Service Commission; and
    6. The Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
  3. The holders of the constitutional offices shall have no political affiliation.
  4. The holders of the constitutional offices shall not be eligible for re-appointment.

Article XXV – Impeachment

  • The holders of constitutional offices shall be removed only by way of impeachment by the Gyelyong Tshogdu.

Article XXVI – Emergency

  1. The Druk Gyalpo may, on the written advice of the Prime Minister, proclaim an emergency if the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Bhutan or any part thereof is threatened by an act of external aggression or armed rebellion.
  2. The Druk Gyalpo may, on the written advice of the Prime Minister, proclaim that a public emergency or calamity, which threatens or affects the nation as a whole or part thereof, exists in which case the RoyalGovernment may take measures to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.
  3. The Druk Gyalpo may, on the written advice of the Prime Minister, proclaim a Financial Emergency if His Majesty is satisfied that a situation has arisen whereby the financial stability or credit of Bhutan is threatened. Such a Proclamation shall be laid before each House within a period of twenty-one days after such Proclamation unless the Gyelyong Tshogdu resolves by not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu to extend it within the said period.
  4. The Constitution shall not be amended during a state of emergency.

Article XXVII - National Referendum

  1. The will of the people shall be expressed in a National Referendum. A simple majority of the total number of votes cast and counted shall be required for the referendum to be adopted.
  2. The Druk Gyalpo may command a National Referendum if:
    1. In His opinion a Bill not passed by the Gyelyong Tshogdu is of national importance; or
    2. An appeal is made by not less than fifty percent of the total number of members of all Dzongkhag Tshogdues.

Article XXVIII - Amendment & Authoritative Text

  1. A motion to amend the Constitution under section 1 of this Article shall be initiated by a simple majority of the total number of members of the Gyelyong Tshogdu and, on being passed by not less than three-fourths of the total number of members in the next session of the Gyelyong Tshogdu, the Constitution shall stand amended on Assent being granted by the Druk Gyalpo.
  2. The Gyelyong Tshogdu may call for a National Referendum if, in its opinion, a Constitutional Bill, which is not granted Assent by the Druk Gyalpo is of national importance. Accordingly, sections 1, 3 and 4 of Article 34 shall apply.
  3. In any instance of a difference in meaning between the Dzongkha and the English texts of this Constitution, each text shall be regarded as equally authoritative and courts shall reconcile the two texts.
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