The Office of the Attorney General is the legal arm of the executive branch of the Royal Government of Bhutan. It was first established as the Office of Legal Affairs in 1999 on the recommendation of the Special Task Force on Enhancing Good Governance.
Conceived as a “common embryo of the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Law,” it was the brainchild of the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of Lyonpo Sangay Ngedup. It was intended to check the immediate concerns of “abuse and under-exercise” of authorities by the agencies of the government. Dasho Tashi Phuntshog, the then Secretary of the National Assembly, in addition to his existing responsibilities, was appointed as the Director-General of the Office of Legal Affairs with effect from 1 January 2000.
The Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) was formally established on 14 April 2000 to function as the central agency to deal with all legal matters on behalf of the government. Housed in the one-time Chhukha Hydro Power Corporation’s Guest House structure in Lower Motithang, OLA took over the prosecuting functions of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) Secretariat and the Law and Order Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
For a brief period in 2001, the Office of Legal Affairs was renamed the Department of Legal Affairs.
On 7 September 2001, with the appointment of the then Phuentsholing Dungkhag Drangpon Kuenlay Tshering as its Director, the office was once again named the Office of Legal Affairs. Dasho Tashi Phuntshog’s tenure as the Director-General of the Office of Legal Affairs ended with the appointment of the new Director.
Dasho Kuenlay Tshering served as the Director of the Office of Legal Affairs till 6 March 2006, when he was promoted as a Justice of the High Court. He also served as His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo’s candidate on the National Council. He is currently serving as a Justice in the Supreme Court of Bhutan.
On 26 April 2006, the Wangdiphodrang Drangpon Damcho Dorji took over as the Director. The Office of Legal Affairs till then functioned according to the Terms of Reference issued by the Council of Ministers in 2002. However, on 30 June 2006, the National Assembly during its 85th Session passed the Office of the Attorney General Act 2006.
On 15 August 2006, the Council of Ministers during its 318th Co-ordination Committee Meeting (CCM) resolved to formally establish the Office of the Attorney General and appoint the Attorney General. Accordingly, the Office of the Attorney General was formally inaugurated and the serving Director Damcho Dorji was formally appointed as the Attorney General. Dasho Damcho Dorji resigned as the Attorney General on 22 August 2007.
In July 2008, Punakha Drangpon Rinzin Penjor was appointed as the Attorney General of Bhutan under the Hand and Seal of His Majesty the King in accordance with Article 29(2) of the Constitution of Bhutan. It was during his tenure that the blueprint for the current OAG office structure was conceived. In 2010, Dasho Rinzin Penjor was appointed as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court. He is currently serving as a member of the Bar Council.
On 14 May 2010, Dasho Phuntsho Wangdi, who was heading the Prosecution & Litigation Division, was appointed as the Attorney General of Bhutan under the Hand and Seal of His Majesty the King in accordance with Article 29(2) of the Constitution of Bhutan. As the Attorney General, he initiated the internal restructuring of the various divisions vis-à-vis the offices’ Constitutional mandates. He also initiated and completed the construction of the current structure that houses the office. He completed his tenure in May 2015.
On 22 May 2015, Dasho Shera Lhundup was appointed as the Attorney General under the Hand and Seal of His Majesty the King in accordance with Article 29(2) of the Constitution of Bhutan. During his tenure, reforms towards transparency and accountability were adopted in the form of Rules of Procedures. This includes the implementation of the Case Screening Corpus to achieve uniformity in indictments and accountability of prosecutors. He also worked towards restructuring the Office organogram to create a new career pathway that was hitherto unavailable to lawyers working within the bureaucracy to include two departments headed by two directors. He completed his tenure on 22 May 2020.
On 20 July 2020, Dasho Lungten Dubgyur was appointed as the new Attorney General of Bhutan under the Hand and Seal of His Majesty the King in accordance with Article 29(2) of the Constitution of Bhutan.