Chief Justice Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye of Bhutan details the process through which Bhutan drafted its first constitution. He discusses the successes and challenges of that process, as well as the difficulty of balancing the use of other countries as models with the unique requirements of Bhutan. Tobgye also touches on the involvement of Bhutan's king in the constitution-drafting process and the many judicial reforms during his tenure as chief justice, including efforts to make judicial proceedings more efficient and to increase access to justice across the population.
At the time of this interview, Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye was chief justice of the High Court of Bhutan, a position he had held since 1991. He was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court in December 2009. Tobgye oversaw the drafting of Bhutan’s first constitution and a number of judicial reforms. From 1986 to 1991, he simultaneously held the positions of auditor general of the Royal Audit Authority and secretary of the Royal Civil Service Commission. During that time he implemented a number of civil service reforms and drafted the rules and regulations for both the civil service and the Royal Audit Authority. Prior to those appointments, Tobgye served as a judge on the High Court. In 2001 he received the Medaille d’Honeur from the Court de Cassation of France for his contribution to the cause of justice in Bhutan.