JUSTICE

CCR rejects, as inadmissible, challenge on Law 90 which prevents persons with criminal records from holding Gov’t offices

The Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) rejected on Thursday, as inadmissible, the exception of unconstitutionality that the Ombudsman had raised against Law no.90, which prevents persons that have a criminal record from holding offices within the Government, CCR sources told News.ro. A majority in favour of admitting or rejecting the challenge could not be reached on previous deadlines, the ruling being postponed four times.

The Constitutional Court of Romania (RCC) specifies that on Thursday it rejected as inadmissible the Ombudsman’s notification regarding the article prohibiting convicted persons from being members of the Government, as the reasons invoked consist of both problems of enforcement and interpretation of the law, as well as regulatory issues.

“Following the deliberations, the Constitutional Court, by a majority of votes, dismissed as inadmissible the exception of unconstitutionality drawn up. In adopting this solution, the Court found that, in effect, the grounds referred to in the notification consist of both problems of enforcement and interpretation of the law by the competent public authorities, as well as the legislative issues that come within Parliament’s competence, ” reads a press release of CCR sent to AGERPRES.

The plenary of the Constitutional Court debated on Thursday the exception of unconstitutionality of the provisions of Art. 2 of Law no. 90 / 2001 on the organisation and functioning of the Romanian Government and of the ministries, amended and completed, issued directly by the Ombudsman.

The criticized provisions have the following content: “Can be members of the Government people who have Romanian citizenship and domicile in the country, who benefit from the exercise of electoral rights, who have not suffered criminal convictions and are not found in one of the incompatibility cases provided for in Book I, Title IV of Law No. 161/2003 regarding certain measures for ensuring transparency in the exercise of public dignities, public positions and the business environment, the prevention and sanctioning of corruption, with subsequent amendments and completions.”

The decision is final and generally binding and to be communicated to the Ombudsman.

The arguments retained in motivating the solutions ruled by the CCR plenary sitting will be presented in the decisions’ content, which will be released in the Official Journal of Romania, Part I.

The CCR has postponed the ruling in this case several times.

“More study is required. Several solutions have been advanced (…), none of them assembling a decision-making majority (…). It is the hardest solution I have ever had to give so far, because the problems are mostly related to political appreciation,” Valer Dorneanu, the CCR president, declared in March.

On January 5, the Ombudsman announced that he had filed a notice with the CCR, for the exception of unconstitutionality in relation to the provisions of Article 2 of Law 90/2001, on the organisation and functioning of the Government and of the Ministries, according to which can be members of the Executive people who have not undergone criminal convictions and are not found to be incompatible.

According to the Ombudsman, “the provisions of Article 2 of Law 90/2001 violate the principle of the balance of powers in the state, they do not meet the constitutional requirements of predictability and proportionality of the law and do not allow for the recognition of the right to difference for occupying, on an equal basis and without unreasonable restrictions, of a function involving the exercise of the state authority.”

The CCR last discussed the case last Thursday, however the ruling was postponed because the plenum was not legally constituted to take a decision.

The Constitutional Court previously debated – on March 7, March 21 and April 4 – the Ombudsman’s notification concerning law no.90/2001 which does not allow persons who were criminally convicted to become members of Government. The notification was lodged in early January by Victor Ciorbea, the day after the Grindeanu Government was sworn in at the Cotroceni Palace.

“It was postponed for April 4, because we were unable to reach a solution. More study is needed. Several solutions have been forwarded so far, none of which obtained a decisional majority, and so now we’ve pretty much closed in on two options on which we could possibly reach a conclusion. It’s the most difficult solution we’ve had to issue so far, because the problems are particularly problems of political assessment,” CCR President Valer Dorneanu stated after the March 21 meeting.

The CCR President stated that “very many” legal issues were raised, concerning both advisability and admissibility, the issue being “delicate.”

“We are not necessarily guided by media pressure, nor by political pressure, because that one exists all the time. In fact, they both do. Firstly, we want to be at peace with our conscience and to have the conviction that the solution we issue corresponds to the exact interpretation of the Constitution and of the lawmaker’s intention, to the extent it is in line with constitutional principles,” he added.

Following these statements, CCR judges asked Valer Dorneanu to no longer make statements before the press because he damages the Constitutional Court’s image, all decisions set to be announced through press releases instead.

In early March, CCR sources stated that the case concerning law no.90/2001, which does not allow persons who were criminally convicted to become members of Government, is similar to the unconstitutionality exception raised against the Bar’s law, which does not allow lawyers who were criminally convicted to exercise their profession and which was ruled constitutional by the CCR on April 4.

On January 5, Victor Ciorbea stated for News.ro that he sent to the Constitutional Court a notification regarding law no.90/2001, which stipulates that persons who received criminal convictions and do not find themselves in a case of incompatibility cannot be members of Government.

The Constitutional Court was notified regarding Article 2 of law no.90/2001. The article reads: “Can become members of Government persons who hold solely the Romanian citizenship and who reside in Romania, who enjoy the exercise of their electoral rights, who did not receive criminal convictions and do not find themselves in one of the incompatibility cases listed under Article 4, Paragraph 1.”

The Ombudsman pointed out at the time that “the provisions of Article 2 of Law no.90/2001 break the principle of the separation of powers, fail to meet the constitutional requirements of predictability and proportionality of the law and do not allow the recognition of the right to difference when it comes to holding – in conditions of equality and without unreasonable restrictions – an office that entails the exercise of state authority.”

 

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