Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission is the Apex Judicial Body of the Central Tibetan Administration. It was founded on 11th March, 1992 in accordance with Article 62 of the Charter of the Tibetans in exile. According to the Charter, the Supreme Justice Commission is responsible for adjudicating all civil disputes in Tibetan Communities. The Commission, however, does not entertain any suit, if doing so is seen to be in contravention of the laws of the host countries. Similarly, the commission does not handle criminal suits, as this is the preserve of the respective host government.
Supreme Justice Commission aims to render equal protection before the law to all Tibetans, irrespective of birth, caste, sex, creed, lay, ordained, rich, poor, social origin, position or other status. In essence, the judiciary is a body where people can bring their grievances against administration.
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission is comprised of Chief Justice Commissioner and two other Justice Commissioners. The Chief Justice Commissioner chairs commissioner’s sittings and adjudications. However, while adjudicating suit(s) the Commissioners exercise equal power. The Chief Justice Commissioner has the dual role of being the administrative head of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission.
Rules and Regulations of Tibetan Justice Commission:
According to the Article 67 of the Charter, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission unanimously drafted and formulated three codes -Tibetan Judiciary Code, Civil Procedure Code and Evidence Code. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama approved the three codes on February 28, 1996.
a) The Code of Judiciary
This Code, consists of 9 chapters and 83 sections with 5 appendix. This Code serves as the basic rule governing the Tibetan judicial system, its organization and jurisdiction. It explains the nature of the three levels of Tibetan Justice Commission, their compositions, power and responsibilities, jurisdiction, administration and the appointment and roles of the Justice Commissioners and their staff. A total of 9 amendments have been made to this code till March 2022.
b) The Code of Civil Procedure
This Code, consisting of 15 chapters and 89 sections with 22 appendix, is the law governing the procedural rules of the Tibetan Justice Commissions. It provides a detailed guidelines on the procedures (who, how, at what time and at which place etc.) to be adopted by the parties in filing the case and making claims or objections before the Tibetan Justice Commissions in accordance with the Tibetan Code of Judiciary and Evidence Law. It explains the process of execution of judgments and nature of suits and also describes the meaning of Contempt of Justice Commission and its Inherent Power. A total of 6 amendments have been made to this code till March 2022.
c) Evidence Code/Law
This Code, consisting of 14 chapters and 83 sections, is a principal law regulating the weight and sufficiency of evidences in the legal proceedings. It provides a detailed guideline on the different types of evidences, admissibility of evidences, veracity of witnesses, examination of witnesses and the standard of proof. A total of 3 amendments have been made to this code till March 2022.
The hierarchies of Tibetan Justice Commissions:
According to the Judiciary Code and Civil Procedure Code, there shall be three hierarchies of the Justice Systems viz: The Supreme Justice Commission, The Circuit Justice Commission and the Local Justice Commission.
Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission
The Chief Justice Commissioner is the over all in-charge of judicial and administrative affairs of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission. The administrative work of the Office of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission is headed by the Secretary General who looks after the administrative work of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission and subordinate Tibetan Justice Commissions.
Tibetan Circuit Justice Commission
The Tibetan Circuit Justice Commission is above the Tibetan Local Justice Commission in hierarchy having appellate jurisdiction. If a concerned person is not satisfied with the judgment given by the Tibetan Local Justice Commission then he or she can appeal to the Tibetan Circuit Justice Commission to redress that particular case.
The Circuit Justice Commission was formed on August 28, 2020. It is currently based in Dekyiling Tibetan Settlement, Dehradun headed by a Circuit Justice Commissioner and assisted by a Secretary (trim-drung) with one other subordinate staff.
Tibetan Local Justice Commission)
a) Tibetan Local Justice Commission (Northern Region)
The Tibetan Local Justice Commission (Northern Region) was established on November 9, 2001 in Dekyiling Tibetan Settlement, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. It has a territorial jurisdiction over the 42 Tibetan settlements and Tibetans living in Northern and Eastern region of India and Nepal.The commission is headed by a Justice Commissioner and assisted by a Secretary (trim-drung) with one other subordinate staff.
b) Tibetan Local Justice Commission (Southern Region)
The Tibetan Local Justice Commission (Southern region) was established on May 1, 2003 in Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement, Karnataka. It has a territorial jurisdiction over 20 Tibetan settlements and Tibetans living in Southern and Central region of India and aboard.The commission is headed by a Justice Commissioner and assisted by a Secretary (trim-drung) with one other subordinate staff.
c) Tibetan Local Justice Commission (Ladakh)
The Tibetan Local Justice Commission (Ladakh) was established on October 25, 2012 in Sonamling Tibetan Settlement, Leh. It has a territorial jurisdiction over all Sonamling Tibetan Settlement and Tibetans living in Jangthang and Jammu & Kashmir area.
The commission is headed by a Justice Commissioner and assisted by a Secretary (trim-drung) with one other subordinate staff.
The adjudication jurisdiction of all the commissions are elaborately given in article 7, 24 and 25 of the Judiciary Code. The article 28 and 29 of the Judiciary code explain the area wise jurisdiction of the Circuit and the Local Justice Commissions. As per judicial rules and regulations, a suit or case must first be filed in the Tibetan Local Justice Commission.
Power of Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission
The Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission is the final appeal Justice Commission for both public and private disputes of Tibetan in exile. It is the apex judicial body of the Central Tibetan Administration and also empowered to establish any subordinate Justice Commissions, or to dissolve any of them already in existence.
Although for the period the Tibetan people remain in exile, the jurisdiction of the courts of the concerned host countries prevails, thereby obviating the assumption of power with regard to criminal as well as land and property cases.
The role of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission shall lie in the following areas:
- Resolving disputes arising from the interpretation of the provisions of the Charter; and
- Resolving disputes based on the manner of discharge of functions by the offices or officials under the executive body of the Central Tibetan Administration and allegations of unfairness in regard thereto;
- Resolving disputes with regard to service matters and service benefits concerned with officials of the Central Tibetan Administration;
- Resolving disputes involving land and housing in the Tibetan settlements;
- Resolving disputes within the Tibetan society and disputes concerned with security within the Tibetan society;
- Resolving other disputes not included in the above list as an impartial tribunal through judicial proceeding.
- In addition, the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission has the power to conduct enquiries, provide guidance and supervision over the functioning and administration of the subordinate Tibetan justice commissions.
- Provision of directions in order to protect the fundamental rights and freedom of the Tibetans whenever necessary.
- Resolving the disputes on any laws, executive orders and regulations that are in violation of any of the provisions of the Charter shall be deemed invalid by the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission.
Qualification and Tenure of the Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission
- Whenever a vacancy arises for the post of the Chief Justice Commissioner and for any of the other two Justice Commissioners, a selection committee will be appointed by the Chief Justice Commissioner, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Sikyong. If all the members (the Chief Justice Commissioner, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Sikyong) fail to assemble, the present members may form the ad-hoc selection committee with 3 or 5 members who will propose a list of candidates whose number should not be less than twice the number of vacancies to be filled. The list of nominated candidates will go to the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile for approval. The Parliament members will vote on the nominees and those who win majority of the votes will be appointed as the Chief Justice Commissioner or the Justice Commissioner of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission.
- The Chief Justice Commissioner shall hold office for a term of 5 years or until he/she attains 65, whichever is earlier. The two other Commissioners shall hold office till the age of 65. However, TPiE by motion of 2/3rd majority may impeach them, before the expiry of their tenure.
- The Chief Justice Commissioner and the other two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission must be:
- A citizen of Tibet
- Must have completed the age of 50 years
- Must have been a judge in any court for a continuous period of 5 years, or has been an experienced advocate standing for at least 10 years. However, from June 28, 1991 for a period of 30 years from the enforcement of the charter, the sub-clause (c) of the provision on appointment of the Chief Justice Commissioner and the other two Justice Commissioners need not be adhered till June 28, 2021.
Who is who?
|Name of Former and Present Chief Justice Commissioners & Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, CTA|
|S.No||Name||Designation||Date of retirement|
|Chief Justice Commissioner||Justice Commissioner|
|1||Phunrab Lobsang Dhargyal Drache||04.02.1992||10.03.1992||…||…||19.09.2002|
|2||Dongag Tenzin Songag Tsang||….||…||20.01.1997||29.01.1997||17.03.2002|
|3||Lobsang Dhargyal Shewo||….||….||20. 01.1997||29.01.1997||17.02.1999|
|4||Sonam Sangpo Jadur||24.09.2002||01.10.2002||24.09.2001||26.09.2001||28.09.2004|
|5||Namgyal Tsering Dralnang||15.09.2004||14.10.2004||18.03.2002||20.03.2002||13.10.2009|
|6||Lobsang Khedup Drongre||….||…||24.09.2002||01.10.2002||01.07.2005|
|7||Thupten Tashi Amney Tsang||….||….||15.09.2004||14.10.2004||27.07.2009|
|8||Ngawang Phelgyal Genchen||23.09.2009||16.10.2009||15.09.2005||16.12.2005||15.10.2014|
|9||Ngawang Thupten Chuteng||….||…||14.09.2009||16.10.2009||30.06.2013|
|10||Tsering Dhondup Namelhakhang||….||…||15.03.2010||24.03.2010||31.10.2016|
|11||Ngawang Choedak Choetri Tengpa||….||…||21.09.2013||03.10.2013||02.09.2018|
|13||Dr. Nawang Rabgyal Norpa||….||….||26.09.2016||01.11.2016||31.12.2020|
|15||Sonam Norbu Dagpo||23.09.2019||10.15.2019||….||….||14.11.2021|
Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission
Central Tibetan Administration
Dharamshala – 176215
E-mail: [email protected]