Judicial review and judicial independence during the pandemic in developing democracies: Insights from Bhutan

Bhutan ordered its first nationwide lockdown through an executive order on August of 2021 after a returning resident tested positive for coronavirus after being discharged from quarantine and coming into close contact with people in the capital Thimphu. Similarly, many executive orders were issued in the government's fight against the pandemic. People complied with the executive's measures as there were no physical protests or strong backlash against those orders as the decision was proving to be in the interest of the nation and its people. The judiciary ratified the executive's decisions without looking into the constitutionality of the executive's decisions. This shows limitations on judicial independence. This paper examines the constitutionality of the executive orders issued, the exercise of judicial review, and its implications for judicial independence during the pandemic in a developing democracy like Bhutan.