Senate’s Judiciary Committee on Tuesday postponed until May 9 a debate on a proposal to modify Law 303/2004 concerning the statutes of judges and prosecutors that would leave Romania’s President out of the procedure to appoint the management of the Supreme Court and prosecutor’s offices.
The legislative proposal on the committee’s Tuesday agenda has been initiated by Senate Chairman Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and it had already been postponed three times.
Featuring on Tuesday’s agenda of the Judiciary Committee were various pieces of legislation aimed at amending Law 303/2004 concerning the statutes of judges and prosecutors.
“The justice legislation package should be ready for submission to the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM) on May 2, so that the council may see it once again, and after okaying it, the package will be submitted to Government and Parliament for approval”, Justice Ministry told an April 25 meeting of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.
“Parliament is considering five bills, all concerning justice. I have kept count of all of them put up for discussion and adopted independently from what we are putting forth. One piece is emergency ordinance OUG 46/2008 [amending Article 33 on Law 303/2004 concerning the statutes of judges and prosecutors] that would have allowed joining the magistracy after 18 years of seniority by just an interview,” said Toader.
Back then, committee chairman Serban Nicolae was asking for a delay given the reports from the Justice Ministry on Law 303 (the statutes of judges and prosecutors), 304 (judiciary organisation), 317 (CSM). He asked Justice Ministry senior official Mariana Mot to call on the ministry’s department in charge with drawing up the pieces of legislation to fast-track the justice legislation package.
Mot said that the amendments to the legislative package coming from the Supreme Court were 160 pages long.
Justice Minister Tudorel Toader on Tuesday said he received a new set of proposals from the Supreme Court of Justice that differs from that submitted by the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM).
Under current Article 53 para. 1, the Supreme Court’s chair, deputy chair and section chairs are appointed by Romania’s President on a proposal from the Supreme Council of Magistrates from among the judges having worked at the court for at least two years.
Tariceanu also suggests Article 53 para. 6 should be amended so that the suspension from office of the Supreme Court’s chair, deputy chair and section chairs may be conducted by the court acting of its own motion upon the request of one third of the members or the court”s general assembly for reasons mentioned in Article 51, para. 2. Office suspension is currently carried out by Romania’s President upon CSM’s proposal.
In addition, Tariceanu proposes that Article 53 para. 2 – Romania’s President may not refuse appointments for the executive offices mentioned at para 1 unless the refusal is justified and the grounds for refusal are reported to the CSM – be repealed.
Tariceanu’s other amendment regards Article 54 para. 1 – the prosecutor general with the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the first deputy and deputy thereof, the chief prosecutor of the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and deputies thereof as well as chief prosecutors of these prosecutorial offices and the chief prosecutor of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism and deputies thereof are appointed by Romania’s President upon the recommendation of the justice minister, provided a favourable opinion from the Supreme Council of Magistrates, from among prosecutors or judges with at least 10 year office seniority for a three-year term that is renewable only once – so that the appointment process may be entrusted to the CSM instead of the President.
Another amendment regards paragraph 4 so that dismissing prosecutors from the executive offices mentioned in paragraph 1 may be carried out by CSM, which can act of its own motion upon the request of the general assembly or the chief prosecutor with the Supreme Court, as the case may be, for grounds mentioned at Article 51, para. 2.
Paragraph 3 of the same article should also be repealed because it says the President may justifiably refuse appointment to these offices while making public the reasons for the refusal.