Parliament passed on April 17 with its first reading a bill shortening deadline for the Constitutional Court to deliver a verdict into those applications, which cause suspension of validity of a disputed legislative act pending court’s final decision.
Some lawmakers from the Georgian Dream indicated that one of the reasons behind the proposal is to prevent possible dragging out of enforcement of reform of High Council of Justice, which may potentially be protracted for months if taken for consideration to the Constitutional Court.
Bill on reforming High Council of Justice, a body overseeing judicial system, was passed by the Parliament on April 5 and then sent to President Saakashvili for signature. But the President and his UNM party are strongly against the bill and Saakashvili may veto it. April 25 is a deadline when the President should either sign the bill into law or return it with objections back to the Parliament, according to senior GD lawmaker Vakhtang Khmaladze.
GD has enough votes in the Parliament to override the presidential veto, but MPs from parliamentary majority apparently fear that UNM may then take the bill to the Constitutional Court for the purpose of dragging out its enforcement.
The proposal to cut deadlines for consideration of lawsuits by the Constitutional Court was initiated by MP Vakhtang Khmaladze, who chairs the parliamentary committee for legal affairs; seeking speedy passage of the bill, GD has granted the proposal special status allowing the bill to be confirmed through faster procedures.
According to the existing rules, consideration of a lawsuit by the Constitutional Court may take maximum 11 months and according to current regulations, enforcement of a disputed legislative act may also be suspended for that period before the court delivers its final verdict. But there are also exemptions; for example if an issue related to presidential election is taken to the Constitutional Court, the latter has maximum 12 days to take decision.
According to the GD-proposed legislative amendment, if the Constitutional Court decides as an interim measure to suspend enforcement of a disputed legislative act, the court will have 30 days for consideration and delivering its final verdict; in “special cases” Constitutional Court chairman will have the right to extend the deadline for 15 more days, so maximum timeframe for consideration of such applications will be 45 days if the proposed bill goes into force.
During the debates in Parliament on April 17, GD MP Khmaladze said that UNM leaders had indicated about their intention to drag out enforcement of the bill on new rule of composition of the high Council of Justice, including through taking the bill to the Constitutional Court.
“Dragging out enforcement of this bill will harm to establishment of an independent judiciary, so it is required to pass this preventive measures [by shortening deadlines], which will not allow you to protract going into effect law on [judicial council],” MP Khmaladze told UNM lawmakers. He also said that GD consulted with the Constitutional Court while drafting the proposal.
UNM lawmaker Pavle Kublashvili said during the debates that the proposal was politically motivated and it was unacceptable to change procedures for the Constitutional Court for political purposes; he also said that shortening of deadlines might turn harmful for proper consideration of applications filed to the Constitutional Court.