Democracy requires independent, impartial judiciary, says top court chief
AA photoTo call a state democratic and governed by rule of law, the presence of independent and impartial judiciary and judges is necessary, the president of Turkey’s Constitutional Court stated in a speech attended by the country’s president.
“For full establishment of a state governed by the rule of law, the judiciary’s institutional independence and impartiality is not sufficient on its own. The judge who uses his discretion must also be actually virtuous,” Zühtü Arslan, the president of the Supreme Court of Appeals, said on April 25.
Arslan’s remarks came in a keynote speech he delivered at a ceremony marking the 54th anniversary of the Constitutional Court, with the focus of the speech on rulings released via the individual access mechanism and their results.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also attended the ceremony, despite his previous statement made two months ago declaring he neither accepted nor respected a ruling issued by the top court that led to the release of daily Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief Can Dündar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gül.
The court does not regard religious, political or ideological identity of applicants while making its decisions in individual access cases, Arslan said.
“Hereby, where there is no independent and impartial judiciary, there is no state governed by the rule of law either. No doubt, a state governed by the rule of law does not mean a ‘juristocracy,’ that is to say a ‘state of judges,’” he added.
It was the individual mechanism, which allows individuals to apply their cases directly to the Constitutional Court, that led to the release of Dündar and Gül. Within days of their release, the government announced that it had already begun work to redesign the individual access mechanism.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also attended the ceremony. Erdoğan brushed past Kılıçdaroğlu, while shaking hands with others seated in the first row in line with state protocol.
The Constitutional Court has long been targeted by the president and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over its rulings on individual complaints. The court’s public visibility has grown due to a series of high-profile rulings it has delivered, such as its April 2, 2014 lifting of the government block on Twitter.