The Office of Attorney General launched its upgraded DrukLaws App today (8 April 2020) on the Android platform, in addition to the earlier iOS version. The App after technical approval will be available within next few days and provides comprehensive accessibility to all smartphone users.
The DrukLaws App was initially launched on 23 October 2020, but was only available on iOS devices. Since the access supported only those with an iOS devices, many users felt it was restrictive as the estimated iOS users in the market share of Bhutan is only 9.18% in comparison to 90.69% Android users (as of February 2021). Considering such figures, the Office seized the opportunity to innovate and upgrade its reach to make it more beneficial, inclusive, and accessible to all.
It is His Majesty’s desire that Bhutan, at all levels, keeps abreast and integrates technology, digitalization, artificial intelligence, and automation. His Majesty’s aspirations of quantum computing, the use of blockchain, machine learning, Big Data, IoT (the Internet of Things), virtual reality, and augmented reality inherently presents us with an immense opportunities to leverage with technology to prosper and develop our country.
This timely and apt decision to make our laws accessible via smartphone App is based on the premise of higher accessibility to mobile usage in comparison to computers and laptops, and more so to respond and adapt to changing times.
The App, due to its large file size is hosted in cloud storage Firebase, provides access to about 199 laws of our country along with the latest amendments and newly adopted legislations. It includes the 1652 Legal Code of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and the 1957 Thrimzhung Chhenmo along with 165 rules and regulations and with their revisions. The App also has 93 international instruments – such as International Conventions, Covenants, Treaties and Protocols where Bhutan is a party – that are deemed law when duly ratified by Parliament. In contributing efforts to the Judiciary to promote easier access to e-justice and ensure equal and fair administration of justice, the App also provides easy access to about 71 judicial forms.
Unlike many websites that provide varied digital access to laws, the App serves as a ‘single window platform’. It provides tools for effective guidance and easy reference with the grouping of laws into Constitutional Law; Procedural Law, Administrative Law; Family Law; Inheritance Law; Property Law; Financial Law; Criminal Law and so forth.
The App is expected to immensely benefit the legal fraternity working in the Judiciary, Office of Attorney General, Royal Bhutan Police, the Members of the Bar, Private Law Firms, Lawyers and Law students, the Members of Parliament, Local Governments officials, and the general public. Presently, our laws are printed in limited copies and often not consolidated. Therefore, it is difficult for the public to access the hard copies considering the huge costs incurred in printing, overlapping roles of legislative archiving, frequent changes due to amendments or revisions, and most pressingly the absence of a central depository agency to make our laws available on demand.