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The Act on Constitutional Tribunal inconsistent with the Constitution. Citizens get mobilized

10.03.2016

Polish Constitutional Tribunal decided yesterday that the Act of 22 December 2015 amending the Constitutional Tribunal Act was enacted in breach of the Constitution. E.g. the Sejm violated the rule that bills are considered in the course of three readings. A number of articles of the Act were also stated to be inconsistent with the Constitution.

The December piece of legislation intended to introduce systemic changes to the functioning of the Tribunal and was enacted with unpreceded speed (the project was in Sejm for only 7 days) in a manner that disrespected many points of legislative procedure – as sentenced the Tribunal yesterday. Ia. the Act intended to introduce the rule of reviewing the cases in the order of submission to the Tribunal and changed the rules of disciplinary responsibility of judges. The Act was implemented without vacatio legis – while the norm is 14 days – the Constitutional Tribunal had no possibility of properly preparing itself, in organizational terms, to the requirements introduced by the amending Act.

Polish PM, the Minister of Justice and numerous representatives of the ruling party dubbed the Tribunal  sentence “a release” and declared that the sentence will not be published. The Tribunal reminded the government officials that its statements are final and no institution can question them. The Tribunal will continue its work according to the former Act of Constitutional Tribunal. Thousands of Polish citizens and NGOs published the sentence on the Internet. One of the left wing parties “published” it also on the elevation of the PM’s Office. Public demonstrations already started – more are planned for the weekend.

In every democratic state a bad piece legislation can be questioned and the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland, and constitutional courts in other democratic states, has the final say, as the guarantor of constitutional rights. Today, Polish citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms are subject to interpretation.

The Act of 22 December 2015 amending the Constitutional Tribunal Act – press release after the hearing