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Constitution of Bhutan (2008)

1The following text is from the Constitute Project, who through a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, has generously made this content available for use for noncommercial purposes. Follow (right-click) the links and read the annotation to learn more. 1

2


3Preamble

4WE, the people of Bhutan:

5BLESSED 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;

6SOLEMNLY pledging ourselves to strengthen the sovereignty of Bhutan, to secure the blessings of liberty, to ensure justice and tranquility and to enhance the unity, happiness and well-being of the people for all time;

7DO 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.

8Article 1. Kingdom of Bhutan

91. Bhutan is a Sovereign Kingdom and the Sovereign power belongs to the people of Bhutan.

102. The form of Government shall be that of a Democratic Constitutional Monarchy.

113. 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 Parliament.

124. The territory of Bhutan shall comprise twenty Dzongkhags with each Dzongkhag consisting of Gewogs and Thromdes. Alteration of areas and boundaries of any Dzongkhag or Gewog shall be done only with the consent of not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of Parliament.

135. The National Flag and the National Emblem of Bhutan shall be as specified in the First Schedule of this Constitution.

146. The National Anthem of Bhutan shall be as specified in the Second Schedule of this Constitution.

157. The National Day of Bhutan shall be the Seventeenth Day of December of each year.

168. Dzongkha is the National Language of Bhutan.

179. This Constitution is the Supreme Law of the State.

1810. All laws in force in the territory of Bhutan at the time of adopting this Constitution shall continue until altered, repealed or amended by Parliament. 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.

1911. The Supreme Court shall be the guardian of this Constitution and the final authority on its interpretation.

2012. The rights over mineral resources, rivers, lakes and forests shall vest in the State and are the properties of the State, which shall be regulated by law.

2113. 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.

22Article 2. The Institution of Monarchy

231. His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo is the Head of State and the symbol of unity of the Kingdom and of the people of Bhutan.

242. The Chhoe-sid-nyi of Bhutan shall be unified in the person of the Druk Gyalpo who, as a Buddhist, shall be the upholder of the Chhoe-sid.

253. The title to the Golden Throne of Bhutan shall vest 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:

26 a.Pass only to children born of lawful marriage;

27 b.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;

28 c.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(b);

29 d.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;

30 e.Not pass to children incapable of exercising the Royal Prerogatives by reason of physical or mental infirmity; and

31 f.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.

324. 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.

335. Upon the ascension of the Druk Gyalpo to the Throne, the members of the Royal Family, the members of Parliament and the office holders mentioned in section 19 of this Article shall take an Oath of Allegiance to the Druk Gyalpo.

346. 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.

357. There shall, subject to the provision of section 9 of this Article, be a Council of Regency when:

36 a.The successor to the Throne has not attained the age of twenty-one years;

37 b.The Druk Gyalpo has temporarily relinquished, by Proclamation, the exercise of the Royal Prerogatives; or

38 c.It has been resolved by not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of Parliament in a joint sitting that the Druk Gyalpo is unable to exercise the Royal Prerogatives by reason of temporary physical or mental infirmity.

398. 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:

40 a.A senior member of the Royal Family nominated by the Privy Council;

41 b.The Prime Minister;

42 c.The Chief Justice of Bhutan;

43 d.The Speaker;

44 e.The Chairperson of the National Council; and

45 f.The Leader of the Opposition Party.

469. In the case specified under section 7(b) or 7(c) 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.

4710. The members of the Council of Regency shall take an Oath of Allegiance before Parliament to faithfully discharge their duties.

4811. When the successor to the Throne attains the age of twenty-one years or when the Druk Gyalpo resumes the exercise of the Royal Prerogatives under sections 7(a) and 7(b) 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(c) of this Article, notice shall be given to that effect by resolution of Parliament.

4912. The members of the Royal Family shall be the reigning and past Monarchs, their Queens and the Royal Children born of lawful marriage.

5013. The Druk Gyalpo and the members of the Royal Family shall be entitled to:

51 a.Annuities from the State in accordance with a law made by Parliament;

52 b.All rights and privileges including the provision of palaces and residences for official and personal use; and

53 c.Exemption from taxation on the royal annuity and properties provided for by sections 13(a) and 13(b) of this Article.

5414. There shall be a Privy Council, which shall consist of two members appointed by the Druk Gyalpo, one member nominated by the Lhengye Zhungtshog and one member nominated by the National Council. The Privy Council shall be responsible for:

55 a.All matters pertaining to the privileges of the Druk Gyalpo and the Royal Family;

56 b.All matters pertaining to the conduct of the Royal Family;

57 c.Rendering advice to the Druk Gyalpo on matters concerning the Throne and the Royal Family;

58 d.All matters pertaining to crown properties; and

59 e.Any other matter as may be commanded by the Druk Gyalpo.

6015. The Druk Gyalpo shall not be answerable in a court of law for His actions and His person shall be sacrosanct.

6116. The Druk Gyalpo, in exercise of His Royal Prerogatives, may:

62 a.Award titles, decorations, dar for Lhengye and Nyi-Kyelma in accordance with tradition and custom;

63 b.Grant citizenship, land kidu and other kidus;

64 c.Grant amnesty, pardon and reduction of sentences;

65 d.Command Bills and other measures to be introduced in Parliament; and

66 e.Exercise powers relating to matters which are not provided for under this Constitution or other laws.

6717. The Druk Gyalpo may promote goodwill and good relations with other countries by receiving state guests and undertaking state visits to other countries.

6818. The Druk Gyalpo shall protect and uphold this Constitution in the best interest and for the welfare of the people of Bhutan.

6919. The Druk Gyalpo shall, by warrant under His hand and seal, appoint:

70 a.The Chief Justice of Bhutan in accordance with section 4 of Article 21;

71 b.The Drangpons of the Supreme Court in accordance with section 5 of Article 21;

72 c.The Chief Justice of the High Court in accordance with section 11 of Article 21;

73 d.The Drangpons of the High Court in accordance with section 12 of Article 21;

74 e.The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners in accordance with section 2 of Article 24;

75 f.The Auditor General in accordance with section 2 of Article 25;

76 g.The Chairperson and members of the Royal Civil Service Commission in accordance with section 2 of Article 26;

77 h.The Chairperson and members of the Anti-Corruption Commission in accordance with section 2 of Article 27;

78 i.The heads of the Defence Forces from a list of names recommended by the Service Promotion Board;

79 j.The Attorney General in accordance with section 2 of Article 29;

80 k.The Governor of the Central Bank of Bhutan on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;

81 l.The Chairperson of the Pay Commission in accordance with section 1 of Article 30;

82 m.The Cabinet Secretary on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;

83 n.The Secretary General of the respective Houses on the recommendation of the Royal Civil Service Commission;

84 o.Ambassadors and Consuls on the recommendation of the Prime Minister;

85 p.The Secretaries to the 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

86 q.Dzongdags on the recommendation of the Prime Minister who shall obtain nominations from the Royal Civil Service Commission.

8720. The Druk Gyalpo shall abdicate the Throne for willful violations of this Constitution or for being subject to permanent mental disability, on a motion passed by a joint sitting of Parliament in accordance with the procedure as laid down in sections 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 of this Article.

8821. The motion for abdication shall be tabled for discussion at a joint sitting of Parliament if not less than two-thirds of the total number of the members of Parliament submits such a motion based on any of the grounds in section 20 of this Article.

8922. The Druk Gyalpo may respond to the motion in writing or by addressing the joint sitting of Parliament in person or through a representative.

9023. The Chief Justice of Bhutan shall preside over the joint sitting of Parliament mentioned in section 21 of this Article.

9124. If, at such joint sitting of Parliament, not less than three-fourths of the total number of members of Parliament passes the motion for abdication, then such a resolution shall be placed before the people in a National Referendum to be approved or rejected.

9225. On such a resolution being approved by a simple majority of the total number of votes cast and counted from all the Dzongkhags in the Kingdom, the Druk Gyalpo shall abdicate in favour of the heir apparent.

9326. Parliament 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.

94Article 3. Spiritual Heritage

951. Buddhism is the spiritual heritage of Bhutan, which promotes the principles and values of peace, non-violence, compassion and tolerance.

962. The Druk Gyalpo is the protector of all religions in Bhutan.

973. 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.

984. The Druk Gyalpo shall, on the recommendation of the Five Lopons, 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, as the Je Khenpo.

995. His Holiness the Je Khenpo shall, on the recommendation of the Dratshang Lhentshog, appoint monks with the nine qualities of a spiritual master and accomplished in ked-dzog as the Five Lopons.

1006. The members of the Dratshang Lhentshog shall comprise:

101 a.The Je Khenpo as Chairman;

102 b.The Five Lopons of the Zhung Dratshang; and

103 c.The Secretary of the Dratshang Lhentshog who is a civil servant.

1047. The Zhung Dratshang and Rabdeys shall continue to receive adequate funds and other facilities from the State.

105Article 4. Culture

1061. 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.

1072. 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.

1083. The State shall conserve and encourage research on local arts, custom, knowledge and culture.

1094. Parliament may enact such legislation as may be necessary to advance the cause of the cultural enrichment of Bhutanese society.

110Article 5. Environment

1111. 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.

1122. The Royal Government shall:

113 a.Protect, conserve and improve the pristine environment and safeguard the biodiversity of the country;

114 b.Prevent pollution and ecological degradation;

115 c.Secure ecologically balanced sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development; and

116 d.Ensure a safe and healthy environment.

1173. The 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.

1184. Parliament 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.

1195. Parliament 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.

120Article 6. Citizenship

1211. A person, both of whose parents are citizens of Bhutan, shall be a natural born citizen of Bhutan.

1222. 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 Government of Bhutan shall be a citizen of Bhutan by registration.

1233. A person who applies for citizenship by naturalization shall:

124 a.Have lawfully resided in Bhutan for at least fifteen years;

125 b.Not have any record of imprisonment for criminal offences within the country or outside;

126 c.Be able to speak and write Dzongkha;

127 d.Have a good knowledge of the culture, customs, traditions and history of Bhutan;

128 e.Have no record of having spoken or acted against the Tsawa-sum;

129 f.Renounce the citizenship, if any, of a foreign State on being conferred Bhutanese citizenship; and

130 g.Take a solemn Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution as may be prescribed.

1314. The grant of citizenship by naturalization shall take effect by a Royal Kasho of the Druk Gyalpo.

1325. If any citizen of Bhutan acquires the citizenship of a foreign State, his or her citizenship of Bhutan shall be terminated.

1336. Subject to the provisions of this Article and the Citizenship Acts, Parliament shall, by law, regulate all other matters relating to citizenship.

134Article 7. Fundamental Rights

1351. 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.

1362. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech, opinion and expression.

1373. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to information.

1384. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No person shall be compelled to belong to another faith by means of coercion or inducement.

1395. There shall be freedom of the press, radio and television and other forms of dissemination of information, including electronic.

1406. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to vote.

1417. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of movement and residence within Bhutan.

1428. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to equal access and opportunity to join the Public Service.

1439. 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 Parliament.

14410. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to practice any lawful trade, profession or vocation.

14511. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.

14612. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, other than membership of associations that are harmful to the peace and unity of the country, and shall have the right not to be compelled to belong to any association.

14713. Every person in Bhutan shall have the right to material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he or she is the author or creator.

14814. A person shall not be deprived of property by acquisition or requisition, except for public purpose and on payment of fair compensation in accordance with the provisions of the law.

14915. 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.

15016. A person charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law.

15117. A person shall not be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

15218. A person shall not be subjected to capital punishment.

15319. A person shall not be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence nor to unlawful attacks on the person's honour and reputation.

15420. A person shall not be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.

15521. A person shall have the right to consult and be represented by a Bhutanese Jabmi of his or her choice.

15622. Notwithstanding the rights conferred by this Constitution, nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from subjecting reasonable restriction by law, when it concerns:

157 a.The interests of the sovereignty, security, unity and integrity of Bhutan;

158 b.The interests of peace, stability and well-being of the nation;

159 c.The interests of friendly relations with foreign States;

160 d.Incitement to an offence on the grounds of race, sex, language, religion or region;

161 e.The disclosure of information received in regard to the affairs of the State or in discharge of official duties; or

162 f.The rights and freedom of others.

16323. All persons in Bhutan shall have the right to initiate appropriate proceedings in the Supreme Court or High Court for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Article, subject to section 22 of this Article and procedures prescribed by law.

164Article 8. Fundamental Duties

1651. 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 Parliament.

1662. A Bhutanese citizen shall have the duty to preserve, protect and respect the environment, culture and heritage of the nation.

1673. 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.

1684. A person shall respect the National Flag and the National Anthem.

1695. 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.

1706. A person shall have the responsibility to provide help, to the greatest possible extent, to victims of accidents and in times of natural calamity.

1717. A person shall have the responsibility to safeguard public property.

1728. A person shall have the responsibility to pay taxes in accordance with the law.

1739. Every person shall have the duty to uphold justice and to act against corruption.

17410. Every person shall have the duty to act in aid of the law.

17511. Every person shall have the duty and responsibility to respect and abide by the provisions of this Constitution.

176Article 9. Principles of State Policy

1771. The State shall endeavour to apply the Principles of State Policy set out in this Article to ensure a good quality of life for the people of Bhutan in a progressive and prosperous country that is committed to peace and amity in the world.

1782. The State shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.

1793. The State shall endeavour to create a civil society free of oppression, discrimination and violence, based on the rule of law, protection of human rights and dignity, and to ensure the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people.

1804. The State shall endeavour to protect the telephonic, electronic, postal or other communications of all persons in Bhutan from unlawful interception or interruption.

1815. The State shall endeavour to provide justice through a fair, transparent and expeditious process.

1826. The State shall endeavour to provide legal aid to secure justice, which shall not be denied to any person by reason of economic or other disabilities.

1837. 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 Kingdom.

1848. 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.

1859. The State shall endeavour to achieve economic self-reliance and promote open and progressive economy.

18610. The State shall encourage and foster private sector development through fair market competition and prevent commercial monopolies.

18711. The State shall endeavour to promote those circumstances that would enable the citizens to secure an adequate livelihood.

18812. The State shall endeavour to ensure the right to work, vocational guidance and training and just and favourable conditions of work.

18913. The State shall endeavour to ensure the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

19014. The State shall endeavour to ensure the right to fair and reasonable remuneration for one's work.

19115. The State shall endeavour to provide education for the purpose of improving and increasing knowledge, values and skills of the entire population with education being directed towards the full development of the human personality.

19216. 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.

19317. 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.

19418. 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.

19519. The State shall endeavour to promote those conditions that are conducive to co-operation in community life and the integrity of the extended family structure.

19620. 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.

19721. The State shall provide free access to basic public health services in both modern and traditional medicines.

19822. 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.

19923. The State shall encourage free participation in the cultural life of the community, promote arts and sciences and foster technological innovation.

20024. The State shall endeavour to promote goodwill and co-operation with nations, foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and encourage settlement of international disputes by peaceful means in order to promote international peace and security.

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