The request made by the President of the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM), Marius Tudose, to the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) for settling a possible legal conflict of a constitutional nature between the judicial authority and the legislative power in the case of Senator Dan Sova was admitted by CCR.
The Constitutional Court on Wednesday heard the requests made by President Klaus Iohannis, PNL and CSM after the Senate’s decision to reject DNA’s request to detain and arrest Senator Dan Sova, although the majority of attending senators had voted in favour.
On his arrival to CCR, Court President Augustin Zegrean said that, if a constitutional conflict was identified between the powers of the state over Dan Sova’s immunity, CCR would also need to make a decision on his immunity. Asked whether CCR would explicitly rule on the immunity of Senator Dan Sova if a constitutional conflict was found, Augustin Zegrean answered: ‘If we find there is a conflict, we will also need to propose a solution’.
In its request, CSM reminds that, on 25 March, the request for detaining and arresting Senator Dan Sova was put on the Senate agenda and that the request received 79 vote sin favour, 67 votes against and five votes were annulled, the appreciation being that the required number of votes for granting the request was not gathered under Section 173 of the Senate Regulation, according to which such decisions are adopted by the votes of the majority of the members of the Senate. ‘Retaining that the decisions through which detaining and arresting a senator are adopted by the vote of the majority of its members, the Senate therefore disregarded the constitutional provisions at Section 76, paragraph (2) of the Fundamental Law (…). The law order cannot be understood outside respecting the supremacy of the Constitution. Or, if the requirement of the majority of the votes of the present members had been respected, the request for approving the detaining and arrest of Senator Dan Sova would have obviously fulfilled the necessary number of votes’, Tudose states in his letter to CCR.
President Iohannis’ request was declined and PNL’s was left without object as the joint plenary of the two Chambers adopted the modification of Section 24 of the Statute of Deputies and Senators in order for decisions to be adopted by the simple majority of attending MPs.
Senate Deputy Speaker: ‘It’s a first time for Parliament’
PSD Senator Ioan Chelaru who is also Deputy Speaker of the Senate, said on Realitatea TV on Wednesday that it was the first time the Parliament had to publish a decision on a rejection resolution, because the senators did not approve DNA’s request to arrest Sova. So far, such decisions were only issued for resolutions granting Justice requests. Asked what the text of the resolution would look like, the PSD senator said he didn’t know exactly, as it was a first time for the Parliament. ‘The Senate will send it to the minister of Justice, but I cannot tell you (what the text will look like – editor’s note), because it is the first time in the history of the Parliament that we have been requested to issue a resolution on a negative decision. It will probably be a draft resolution stating ‘Senate rejected with this many votes and so on’ The Court says we are to draft a resolution based on the vote, we’ll see next week’, Chelaru said.
The PSD senator also notes that the vote in the Sova case could only be repeated in one situation. ‘If DNA asks the minister of justice to make a new request with new evidence or for new offences’, he said, explaining that ‘CCR had not found a legal conflict of a constitutional nature, therefore the law was in force when it applied’.
Calin Popescu Tariceanu: ‘We cannot vote on Sova case again, Parliament is not a counter’
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu said, before the CCR decision came out, that a new vote on DNA’s request for detaining and arresting Dan Sova (PSD) ‘was impossible’ regardless of what the judges might decide. ‘Of course it cannot be repeated and the law does not apply to the past. If the law the Parliament adopted yesterday (changing the Statue of MPs – editor’s note) is promulgated by the president, given the 20-day term allowed for promulgation, of course it will become effective and all future requests will be decided by simple majority in Parliament’, Tariceanu said on RFI on Wednesday.
He added the Parliament was not ‘a counter registering requests’ from Justice. ‘The Parliament has a sovereign right to allow either prosecution or arrest. Therefore, when requested, the Parliament is not supposed to give an automated answer, like some request registering counter, and always issue a favourable decision. It may or may not approve a request, after analyzing each particular case’, he explained.
Tariceanu added that the approval of preventive arrest is not always ‘logical’, but said there were also exceptional cases. ‘More than that, when we speak of individual freedom, in a democratic country this is the most precious asset we have and we should not play with it. We must not consider that this is the normal situation for a person who has the benefit of the doubt – be automatically locked up and investigated into on remand. There are exceptional cases where it makes sense to approve arrest, but not always. In this country this has unfortunately become common practice and that’s a bad thing’, the head of the Senate also said.
Charged with three offences of complicity in abuse of office, the PSD senator managed to keep his immunity after the vote of the Senate on 25 March.
Klaus Iohannis: Senate should act in agreement with the CCR ruling
President Klaus Iohannis, currently on his Easter holiday to Madeira, said on Wednesday that he had taken note of the Constitutional Court ruling in the case of PSD Senator Dan Sova. ‘The President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, has taken note of the decisions of the Constitutional Court on the requests for settling legal conflicts of a constitutional nature made by the President or Romania and by the Superior Council of Magistrates. The binding nature of the Constitutional Court decisions specified by the Fundamental Law obliges the Senate to act in agreement with the ruling handed down on Wednesday, 8 April, this year’, reads a press release of the Presidential Administration issued shortly after the CCR magistrates had ruled that the Senate must publish in the Official Journal the decision they made in the Dan Sova case.