Lower Chamber lawmaker and national minority representative Adnagi Slavoliub has tabled a bill amending and supplementing Law no.47/1992 on the Constitutional Court’s organisation and functioning, enhancing the immunity of Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) judges by stipulating that they should not be criminally probed, detained or arrested without the consent of two thirds of CCR members.
Thus, article 66 of the law is modified and reads as follows: “Court judges cannot be criminally probed, detained, arrested, searched or indicted without the consent of the Constitutional Court’s plenum, at the request of the Justice Ministry, notified by the Prosecutor General.”
Likewise, “the consent stipulated by the previous paragraph is to be given by two thirds of CCR judges, after hearing the judge concerned.”
“For crimes committed by Constitutional Court judges, the criminal probe and indictment are done solely by the High Court’s Prosecutor’s Office and the High Court of Justice is the competent court. In case of flagrant crime, Court judges can be detained and searched, the Justice Minister notifying the CCR President at once and asking him, if need be, for the Court’s approval of the criminal probe and arrest stipulated by paragraph 1,” the bill reads, news.ro informs.
According to the bill, “the indicted judge can be suspended through a Constitutional Court plenum decision adopted with the votes of two thirds of Court members. In case of an acquittal, the suspension ceases, and in case of a final conviction the judge’s mandate ends.”
At present, Article 66, Paragraph 1 reads: “Constitutional Court judges cannot be arrested or indicted except with the approval of the Standing Bureaus of the Lower Chamber and the Senate or of the President of Romania, at the request of the Prosecutor General.”
The lawmaker also proposes that Article 68, Paragraph 3 of Law no.47/1992 on the organisation and functioning of the Constitutional Court should be abrogated.
The article reads: “In case the period for which the new judge was appointed, in line with paragraph 2, is smaller than 3 years, he could be appointed, when the Constitutional Court’s membership is renewed, for a full 9-year mandate.”
Likewise, a fourth paragraph is introduced in Article 69: “After the mandate ceases as a result of the expiration of the period for which the judge was appointed, the judge can opt to enter the bar or become notary public, without examination.”
In his substantiation report, Lower Chamber lawmaker Adnagi Slavoliub points out that the introduction of concrete and distinct measures that would eliminate any possibility of pressure being exerted on Constitutional Court judges is “called for.”
“Even though the judges’ immunity is far wider than that of any state official, we deem that this is called for from the standpoint of the need to ensure legitimate protection for some dignitaries who, during their exercise of a mandate limited to nine years at most, have neither the political statute of parliamentarians or of the Romanian President, nor an office of professional career like in the magistrates’ case,” the lawmaker claims.
Adnagi Slavoliub points out that “the proposed immunity constitutes the most efficient guarantee that CCR judges can exercise the role conferred by the fundamental law without constraints or pressures.”
“The conditions stipulated for lawmakers in case of flagrant crime were copied, precisely in order to eliminate the speculation that CCR judges would be protected from any criminal responsibility in case they commit a crime regardless of the context,” the lawmaker explained.
He also points out, in his substantiation report, that the flagrant crime, as well as the measures stipulated, would remove speculations that criminal prosecution actions could be used to put pressure on a constitutional judge.
Adnagi Slavoliub states that similar measures exist in all EU member states, the differences being “minor.”
“In essence, the only significant difference is that, in some states, before any criminal prosecution action starts against a constitutional judge, the revoking of the said judge must be requested and approved,” the lawmaker added.
Adnagi Slavoliub also stated that the bill also includes a stipulation that “applies to CCR judges a regime similar to the one stipulated for Supreme Court judges at the cessation of the mandate through the expiration of the period for which the appointment was made.”
“This aspect took into account the fact that, according to the law, the CCR President’s rank is equivalent to that of the ICCJ [High Court of Justice] President, and the ranks of the other constitutional judges are equivalent to the ranks of ICCJ Vice Presidents,” lawmaker Adnagi Slavoliub concluded.