Turkish main opposition takes judicial bill to Constitutional Court

Turkish main opposition takes judicial bill to Constitutional Court

Turkish main opposition takes judicial bill to Constitutional Court

Turkish President Abdullah Gül (pictured) reignited controversy after approving the judiciary bill. Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) applies to the Constitutional Court, hours after President Gül’s approval.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) applied to the top court for the annulment of a controversial judicial bill, hours after it was approved by President Abdullah Gül.  CHP made its application on the grounds that the bill was unconstitutional. 

Last week, CHP has filed an application to the Constitutional Court demanding that a law restructuring Turkey’s top judicial institution be declared null and void, but its demand was rejected since the bill was not approved by the president. 

Yesterday, Gül has approved a bill reforming the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, (HSYK) arguing that some of his objections had been addressed by the government while noting that other controversial parts would be processed by the Constitutional Court.  

The bill has generated widespread controversy as the reforms are expected to increase the government’s control over the judicial body. 

Government control 

Gül explained that he signed the bill into law because his objections to 15 provisions of the article, which were “clearly unconstitutional,” had been taken into account by the Parliament, while hinting that there were still contentious provisions. 

The move to amend the HSYK’s structures in a bid to tighten the government’s control was made after the government found itself in the middle of a massive corruption and graft operation which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared a plot by a parallel organization within the state. The government argues that “the corruption plot” is being carried out by the Fethullah Gülen community, or Hizmet Movement, which has a strong base within the judiciary and police department. 

The European Union strongly criticized the move, saying it would compromise judicial independence and the separation of powers, key principles of the European Union, which Turkey is trying to join as a full member. 

With the approval of the bill, the body’s secretary-general, deputy secretary-generals, head and deputy head of the disciplinary panels, investigating judges and administrative personnel will be automatically dismissed. The HSYK will be responsible for the appointment, promotion and dismissal of judges and prosecutors and for investigating judicial personnel subject to accusations of wrongdoing. 

However, a probe against a judge or prosecutor can only take place after the consent of the justice minister, as the head of the HSYK, is secured. The minister will appoint the head of the disciplinary panel and its deputies as well as secretary-generals of this panel. Another authority given to the justice minister is to appoint members of three chambers of the HSYK and to define their responsibilities. 

The law also reduces the quorum for the HSYK meetings from 15 out of 22 to a simple majority, which means the presence of 12 members will suffice for convening the HSYK’s assembly.