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Opposition blocks constitutional committee session on Constitutional Court

Opposition MPs managed to block a session of the parliamentary constitutional-legal committee to discuss the draft amendment to the organisation of the Slovak Constitutional Court, which parliament is to approve in a fast-tracked proceeding.

Opposition MPs managed to block a session of the parliamentary constitutional-legal committee to discuss the draft amendment to the organisation of the Slovak Constitutional Court, which parliament is to approve in a fast-tracked proceeding.

The committee was summoned by its chairman, Smer MP Robert Madej, less than an hour before it was scheduled to begin. Most-Híd MP Gábor Gál reasoned that the absence of opposition deputies was due to Matej scheduling the meeting only several minutes after parliament received the governmental proposal for the fast-tracked proceeding, the SITA newswire wrote. Gál stressed that MPs did not have enough time to study the draft amendment and that such a proceeding was wrong.

Ordinary People and Independent Personalities Miroslav Kadúc opined that the government proposal does not fulfil the conditions for a fast-tracked legislative proceeding – and thus, he sees no reason for it.

“Prime Minister [Robert Fico] promised there would be no fast-tracked proceeding,” Kadúc said. There were not enough members present for the committee to proceed, also due to the fact that some Smer MPs were also absent. Smer MP Otto Brixi considers the opposition’s obstruction as its own free decision – everyone should be aware of their own duties and obligations, he said.

The amendment foresees the implementation of the doctrine of necessity based on the so-called Bangalore principles of judicial conduct, aimed at allowing a judge who is otherwise excluded from deciding on a given matter to act and make decisions if inactivity on the part of the court would lead to the denial of access to fair judicial treatment. The current wording of the law concerning decision-making in the plenum has been supplemented by new wording that sets the framework for steps to be taken if several judges of the court are excluded from proceedings due to complaints concerning bias among them filed by the parties involved in litigation. According to the proposal, the court will not take into account repeated complaints against bias filed by the parties involved and will have the court's plenum decide on the matter.

The Constitutional Court is supposed to rule on whether President Ivan Gašparovič violated the constitution by refusing to appoint general-prosecutor-elect Jozef Čentéš to office for more than a year and to assess the reasons for this decision, which the president presented in late December 2012. Čentéš filed his complaint with the Constitutional Court immediately after Gašparovič announced his decision. Both sides have since submitted complaints against individual judges of the court, alleging bias, effectively ruling out 12 of the court's 13 judges. The resulting situation at the court has been described as a stalemate, since only one judge is now left to deal with a matter that requires the decision of a three-member senate.

(Source: SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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