Top Court rejects main opposition’s appeal against controversial judicial reform

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The Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) against a highly controversial legislation that stipulates redesigning the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Council of State by demoting or dismissing hundreds of senior judicial members, arguing that it has not been published on the Official Gazette yet.

The court rejected CHP’s appeal by majority of votes based on the Article 151 of the Constitution that says “the right to apply for annulment directly to the Constitutional Court shall lapse sixty days after publication in the Official Gazette of the contested law.”

Although judges Alparslan Altan ile Erdal Tercan voted against the decision, the court decided to reject the appeal because it was filed on June 1 and the law has not been published on the Official Gazette yet.

CHP İstanbul deputy Özgür Özel spoke to the press over rejection of their appeal and said that they will appeal again immediately after the legislation was published.

“What we expect from the Constitutional Court is to gather immediately [after the appeal] and do what needs to be done. If they use the Eid al-Fitr [the holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan] as an excuse not to show up, justice will be lost,” Özel added.

With the new law Turkish parliament passed last week, the number of chambers in the Supreme Court of Appeals will drop from 46 to 24, half of which will be criminal chambers. Also the number of judges and prosecutors serving for the Supreme Court of Appeals, which is currently 516, will be reduced to 200.

The Turkish Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV) and the Union of Judges recently delivered a joint press statement, saying that judicial independence is being compromised with the new bill.

Metin Feyzioğlu — the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) –, Murat Arslan — the president of YARSAV – and Professor Sami Selçuk — the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Appeals – also previously responded harshly to the bill, arguing that it is an attempt to refurnish the top judiciary with pro-government judges and prosecutors.

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