NC chairperson re-directs committee on Civil Liability Bill

Tsirang National Council member Dhan Kumar Sunwar

KARMA CHIMMI

Thimphu

The national council chairperson redirected their in-house Committee to revisit the Civil Liability Bill, after taking into consideration the views of the sitting members.

The members expressed their views on whether there was a need for an inclusion of a section on wild animals’ destruction to people/properties; filing malicious cases without reasonable basis; as well as the issue of who the right authoritative body would be to make rules and regulations for this Bill.

The NC started the deliberation on the Bill started from 15 June and concluded after three days of in-depth discussions whereby, the Tsirang MP, Dhan Kumar Sunwar, also the chairperson of Legislative Committee, introduced Act 11 of the chapter.

Sharing the background and objectives of amending the Bill, the deputy chairperson of the Legislative Committee, eminent member, Tshering Dorji, said that the Bill is of historical kind in the country. 

“The main objects of the Bill are to provide a comprehensive legal framework on civil liability to the extent possible, by consolidating the scattered legislative provisions in a single, user-friendly law,” he said.

The eminent member said that till now there is no proper compensation for people in most the cases; accident, health, mishaps in construction sites etc. “The Act solely will benefit public at-large.”

Further, the Act will provide adequate guidance on the method of calculating the amount of compensation. With the coming into force of the Constitution, the civil liability law has become critical to enforce its provisions on the fundamental right to property, including the personal liberty and freedom.

Presently, the provisions governing the civil liability are scattered across several existing legislations such as the Road Safety and Transport Act, the Labour and Employment Act, the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code, according to the committee members. 

The civil liability law will also bring about accountability and transparency in the society and in the governance, and inspire respect, trust and confidence in the legal system, thereby enhancing Rule of Law in the country. 

The committee members pointed out that some existing legislations such as the Consumer Protection Act and the Bhutan Health and Medical Council do not contain any provisions on civil liability (where compensation is provided in existing legislations, it is only symbolic or minimal.) “None of these legislations provide adequate guidance on the method of calculating compensation.”  

Given this predicament, the victims face difficulty in finding appropriate law under which to file their claims for compensation even for violations of their fundamental rights and where they are able to do so, they don’t get compensation at all or fair compensation.

The members reported the country is witnessing umpteenth number of deaths, bodily injuries and property damage as a result of negligence or otherwise of individuals and authorities and such incidences are increasing by the day. 

The eminent member Tshering Dorji said that there is need of Act as it was recommended by the expert from Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law and even Prime Minister suggesting there is need of such Act. 

During the session, the Members sought clarifications, intensively discussed and deliberated the provisions.

One of the main objectives of the Civil Liability Bill is to fix accountability on professionals in the country. However, the bill specifically mentions the duty of health professionals separately rather than including them under the general umbrella of professionals. The members expressed it is not necessary.

Accordingly, the Bill will be presented for adoption along with changes in the coming sitting.

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