By Mahak Paliwal
Recently, approximately 13 legislations have been passed in Poland, all of which threaten to hamper the judicial structure in the country. These laws have also become a hindrance to the various national councils associated with the judiciary. This judicial reform ensures systematic interference of the legislative and executive branch of this eastern European country in the operation of Judiciary.
Salient features of judicial aspects
The new law introduced by Mr Duda provides for a reduction in the retirement age of Supreme Court justices. Also, it provides for a mechanism whereby the citizens have been granted with the license to reopen any case filed after the constitution of Poland came into force in the year 1997. They can do so by simply obtaining the support of the justice minister. Further, it permits politicisation of the judiciary by providing for the requirement of obtaining 3/5 majority as opposed to the constitution of the country, which provides for their appointment by self-governing bodies.
Adverse reactions to the law
While Mr Duda defended his move by asserting that it will strengthen the democracy and promote people’s confidence in the judicial system, Mr Bartlomiej Przymusinski, a Polish judge said, “Such changes not only breach Poland’s fundamental law but also oppose the Venice Commission’s recommendation on judiciary councils.” Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s justice minister labelled it as a “diplomatic move or political affair”. Further, while Mateusz Morawiecki emphasized on the need of openness and honesty, he contended the passage of the law as a “necessity.”
One of the state’s spokespeople Rafal Bochenek said, “All the laws prepared by the Polish parliament are in compliance with the constitution and democratic rules. We regret that Timmermans, without knowing the draft laws and regulations of Polish law, has formulated negative criticism against Poland.” Angela Merkel has stated that “This is a serious issue because the requirements for cooperation within the European Union are the principles of the rule of law.”
The officials of Poland favouring the reform have already been warned by the European Commission that should the reforms continue to be in existence, the Commission would be left with no choice but to invoke sanctions under Article 7, which would affect Poland’s voting rights as a member of the European Union (EU). The EU executive has talked of this as a matter of “common concern” for all the 28 EU members.
Additionally, the EU has demanded Warsaw to not make any amendments in the retirement age of the sitting judges, eliminate the discretionary power rendered to the president along with the ministers of justice and reinstate the independence of the judiciary. The reform will not only lead to delivery of entire control of judiciary in the hands of legislative authorities but also promote biases and arbitrariness in the election process as it is the judicial organ of government which is incorporated with the power to validate elections.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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