The Constitution establishes three types of courts: civilian courts, Courts-Martial, and the Constitutional Tribunal.
Civilian courts are organized in four levels:
- the Supreme Court of the Union;
- 14 State and Region High Courts;
- 67 District Courts and Courts of Self-Administered Divisions and Zones; and
- 324 Township Courts.
The Constitution also foresees the establishment of “other Courts constituted by law”. This judicial structure was maintained from a 2000 Law on the Judiciary, itself introduced in an effort to reorganize the judiciary along the lines of what had existed prior to the 1974 socialist Constitution. The 2008 Constitution also restored the Supreme Court’s power to issue writs, such as the write of habeas corpus or the writ of mandamus, which it had lost in the early 1970s.
Courts-Martial (i.e. military courts) adjudicate cases involving Defence Services personnel. As noted above, the Constitution provides that the Defence Services have the right to independently administer and adjudicate all affairs of the armed forces.
The Constitutional Tribunal is empowered to interpret the provisions of the Constitution, to vet whether laws or measures taken by executive authorities are in conformity with the Constitution, and to resolve disputes between the numerous federal sub-entities. The Constitution exhaustively sets out a list of the officials (persons) and organizations that have the right to submit matters for interpretation, either directly or subject to further caveats. The first category on the list includes among others the President, the Chief Justice and the Speakers of the Pyidaungsu, Pyithu and Amyotha Hluttaws; the second category includes among others the Chief Ministers of the Regions and States and the Speakers of the Region or State Hluttaw. The Constitutional Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to consider complaints by individual citizens about alleged violations of their Constitutional rights.
Village chiefs (or “headmen”) also exercise certain quasi-judicial powers of investigation, arrest and punishment, under the law. First regularized by statute under British rule in 1907, these local arrangements were altered by the Ward or Village Tract Administration Act 2012, which provides for the election by secret ballot of all village level officials.
- 20. Constitution, ”S.Courts of the Union are formed as follows : (a) Supreme Court of the Union, High Courts of the Region, High Courts of the State, Courts of the Self-Administered Division, Courts of the Self-Administered Zone, District Courts, Township Courts and the other Courts constituted by law; (b) Courts-Martial; (c) Constitutional Tribunal of the Union., Judiciary Law, ”S.7. A Supreme Court of the Union is formed in accord with the provisions of the Constitution in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. 8. Without affecting the jurisdiction of the Courts-Martial and the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union, the Supreme Court of the Union is the highest Court of the Union.. Statistics from UNDP, Democratic Governance in Myanmar: Preliminary Situation Analysis (July 2012), p. 26-27.↵
- 21. UNDP, Democratic Governance in Myanmar: Preliminary Situation Analysis (July 2012), p. 26.↵
- 22. Constitution, S. 378(a) In connection with the filing of application for rights granted under this Chapter, the Supreme Court of the Union shall have the power to issue the following writs as suitable : (1) Writ of Habeas Corpus; (2) Writ of Mandamus; (3) Writ of Prohibition; (4) Writ of Quo Warranto; 5) Writ of Certiorari. (b) The right to issue writs by the Supreme Court of the Union shall not affect the power of other courts to issue order that has the nature of writs according to the existing laws..↵
- 23. Constitution, S. 319According to Sub-Section (b) of Section 293, the Courts-Martial shall be constituted in accord with the Constitution and the other law and shall adjudicate Defence Services personnel..↵
- 24. Constitution, S. 20(b)The Defence Services has the right to independently administer and adjudicate all affairs of the armed forces.and S. 319According to Sub-Section (b) of Section 293, the Courts-Martial shall be constituted in accord with the Constitution and the other law and shall adjudicate Defence Services personnel..↵
- 25. Constitution, S. 322The functions and the duties of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union are as follows : (a) interpreting the provisions under the Constitution; (b) vetting whether the laws promulgated by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, the Region Hluttaw, the State Hluttaw or the Self-Administered Division Leading Body and the Self-Administered Zone Leading Body are in conformity with the Constitution or not;(c) vetting whether the measures of the executive authorities of the Union, the Regions, the States, and the Self-Administered Areas are in conformity with the Constitution or not; (d) deciding Constitutional disputes between the Union and a Region, between the Union and a State, between a Region and a State, among the Regions, among the States, between a Region or a State and a Self-Administered Area and among the Self-Administered Areas; (e) deciding disputes arising out of the rights and duties of the Union and a Region, a State or a Self-Administered Area in implementing the Union Law by a Region, State or Self-Administered Area; f) vetting and deciding matters intimated by the President relating to the Union Territory; (g) functions and duties conferred by laws enacted by the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw..↵
- 26. Constitution, S. 325-326325. The following persons and organizations shall have the right to submit matters directly to obtain the interpretation, resolution and opinion of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union : (a) the President; (b) the Speaker of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw; (c) the Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw; (d) the Speaker of the Amyotha Hluttaw; (e) the Chief Justice of the Union; (f) the Chairperson of the Union Election Commission. 326. The following persons and organizations shall have the right to submit matters to obtain the interpretation, resolution and opinion of the Constitutional Tribunal of the Union in accord with the prescribed procedures : (a) the Chief Minister of the Region or State; (b) the Speaker of the Region or State Hluttaw; (c) the Chairperson of the Self-Administered Division Leading Body or the Self-Administered Zone Leading Body; (d) Representatives numbering at least ten percent of all the representatives of the Pyithu Hluttaw or the Amyotha Hluttaw..↵
- 27. IBAHRI, The Rule of Law in Myanmar: Challenges and Prospects (December 2012), p. 56.↵