Legal Aid Center established for indigent persons

… applicants will have to qualify for both means and merits test

Rinzin Wangchuk

Those who cannot afford to hire lawyers or legal advisors can now avail of legal aid services both in civil and criminal cases with funding support from the State.

The service will be provided by the Legal Aid Center established following the Royal Command on October 19 at Bhutan National Legal Institute (BNLI) which is housed in the Supreme Court complex at Hejo.

The President of BNLI, Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, and Chief Justice Chogyal Dago Rigdzin attended the inaugural ceremony.  Along with the inauguration of the Center, the Legal Aid Inception Document and the Legal Aid Rules 2022 were launched.

The Center is expected to further strengthen the rule of law and the justice system by enabling all the people to access the courts and the legal process as enshrined in Article 9.6 of the Constitution.

According to the legal aid inception document (LAID), legal aid is indispensable, especially for indigent persons, to have fair and full access to the justice system.

“With the establishment of the Center, legal aid services will be provided in an organized, systematic, and purposeful manner to best serve the needs of the people,” it stated.

Legal aid service?

Legal aid is a provision of assistance to the neediest, who cannot afford legal services. Those eligible often do not understand the legal processes and complexities of the law and lack equitable access to legal counsel, which affects the administration of justice.

In such a situation, according to LAID, legal aid can help the needy to better understand legal and court processes enabling the exercise of their rights to settle disputes, seek remedies for grievances, and enjoy equal protection of the law. “In essence, legal aid is aimed

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