Turkish main opposition takes law on judiciary to top court before presidential approval

Turkish main opposition takes law on judiciary to top court before presidential approval

Turkish main opposition takes law on judiciary to top court before presidential approval

The CHP's Ali Rıza Öztürk speaks to reporters in front of the Constitutional Court in Ankara, Feb 19. AA photo

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has filed Feb. 19 an application to the Constitutional Court demanding that a law restructuring Turkey’s top judicial institution be declared null and void.

The application comes despite President Abdullah Gül having yet to approve the law, and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government firmly arguing that such an appeal has no place in the Turkish legal system.

The CHP also asked for the annulment of the law boosting government control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors through the reshaping of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The draft was approved by Parliament on Feb. 15, after a heated debate and a brawl that left one opposition lawmaker hospitalized.

As it had previously announced, the party appealed for the annulment of the law as soon as it was passed by Parliament, even before it had been approved by the president.

Forty articles of the 46-article law violate the Constitution, CHP Mersin deputy Ali Rıza Öztürk told reporters after filing his party’s application.

When asked whether there was a precedent in which an application was filed to the Constitutional Court before presidential approval, Öztürk sought to downplay the matter. “What matters is the goal, not the shape,” he said. 

CHP Kırklareli deputy Turgut Dibek, for his part, stated that there were precedents for their application.
“The Supreme Court reviewed a case that was opened before [the related law] and formed a case law. This is within the basis of our application too. In such a situation, the president’s approval is not needed. The Constitutional Court has a ruling that says, ‘It is possible to open a case when Parliament’s will is consistent,’” Dibek said.

Last week, while making the CHP’s case for such an application Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Akif Hamzaçebi argued that the government would hastily undertake appointments after the law’s passing. 

“Following those appointments, in the event of the law being annulled, the cancellation of those appointments is out of the question. Of course, our goal is to prevent the government from acting at the HSYK,” Hamzaçebi said.

Application against Constitution, AKP says

The CHP has come under fire from ruling AKP parliamentarians, as well as members of the Cabinet, for the application. Speaking to reporters, Deputy Prime Minister Emrullah İşler dubbed the CHP’s appeal “a first” in Turkey and added, “I find it odd that the CHP has made a decision like this.”

According to İşler, the application is “a step aimed at changing and transforming the agenda in Turkey.” 

“I suppose the Constitutional Court will directly reject this application, because I believe it [the application] is openly against the Constitution,” he said.

Several parliamentarians from the AKP have also expressed the same argument, including AKP deputy Burhan Kuzu, a veteran lawyer who is also the chair of the Parliamentary Constitution Commission.

“The CHP’s appeal to the Constitutional Court has no place in the history of law,” Kuzu told reporters.  “What the Constitutional Court needs to do is - of course I can’t meddle in their affairs - tell [the CHP], ‘Take this back home,’ as soon as it [the application] comes. It should not accept it,” Kuzu said.

Gül had two weeks to approve or veto the law after it was sent to his office.

During an official visit to Hungary earlier this week, Gül hinted at his intention to approve the much-disputed Internet Law and the HSYK Law, while indirectly referring to the Constitutional Court as the venue for an in-depth analysis on the two key legal changes, which have received criticism from the European Union.  

On Feb. 18, as soon as he arrived in Ankara from Budapest, the president approved the law tightening control of the Internet. 

Justifying his approval, Gül said he had given it after the government said it would push amendments through Parliament in line with his concerns.