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Anti-discrimination ruling violates constitutional rights

The Constitutional Court on September 11 upheld the complaint of the Slovak state, represented by the Justice Ministry, that the fundamental right to judicial protection – in particular, the right to a hearing by an independent and lawful court and the right to a lawful judge was not guaranteed in the case involving salary discrimination among Slovak judges.

The Constitutional Court on September 11 upheld the complaint of the Slovak state, represented by the Justice Ministry, that the fundamental right to judicial protection – in particular, the right to a hearing by an independent and lawful court and the right to a lawful judge was not guaranteed in the case involving salary discrimination among Slovak judges.

The class action suit was filed nearly three years ago by hundreds of judges who claimed that the bonuses received by judges of the former Special Court – six times greater than what other judges received – were discriminatory, the TASR newswire wrote. The case wound up before the Constitutional Court after a District Court in Bratislava upheld the discrimination claim of one of the judges, and awarded him nearly €90,000 in compensation in February 2010.

The Ministry of Justice appealed against this decision to the Regional Court in Bratislava and then a series of objections of bias followed. These objections of bias were eventually transferred to the Supreme Court, where its chair decided that all claims of bias will be addressed by a single senate.

The Constitutional Court has now ruled that the rights of the complainant (i.e. the Slovak Republic represented by the Justice Ministry) have been violated.

“It is not admissible that court prevents random allocation of files and vice-versa allows one senate to rule on objections of bias,” explained the judge Milan Ľalík, stressing that it is not in accordance with the Slovak Constitution if judges, who themselves have filed anti-discrimination suits, then decide on the suits.

The panel of the Constitutional Court consisting of justices Ľalík, Lajos Mészáros and Sergej Kohut overturned the resolution of the Supreme Court and returned the case for re-trial citing the basic right for court protection and a lawful judge was violated. Justice Minister Tomáš Borec praised the verdict, according to the Sme daily. Sme also wrote that the Constitutional Court again opened a disciplinary proceeding against Supreme Court Chairman Štefan Harabin. It was Harabin who decided that all complaints of bias against judges who themselves filed lawsuits and judged in similar cases of their colleagues are to be tried by a single senate.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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