The Constitutional Court (CCR) decided, on Wednesday, on the notifications related to the unconstitutionality of the provisions of the Regulation of the Deputies’ Chamber and of the Regulation of the joint activities of the Deputies’ Chamber and the Senate, related to the obligation to come to be heard in the parliamentary inquiry committees. CCR decided that magistrates can be invited to be heard if there are issues related to their professional activity, but they are free not to come if they are invited as simple individuals.
The judges of the Constitutional Court ruled for the second time on the presence of the magistrates for hearings in the parliamentary inquiry committees and the continuation of the work of a parliamentary committee, if there is a criminal investigation pending on the same matter.
One week earlier, CCR ruled on the provisions of the Statute of the deputies and senators related to the same issues, and it ruled on Wednesday on similar issues from the Regulation of the Deputies’ Chamber and of the Regulation of the joint activities of the Deputies’ Chamber and the Senate, following two joint notifications made by the PNL and USR parliamentary groups.
“After the debates, the Constitutional Court has rejected, by majority vote, as being ungrounded, the unconstitutionality notifications submitted, and it decided that the provisions of the Decision of the Deputies’ Chamber no.37/2017 on amending and supplementing the Regulation of the Deputies’ Chamber, and of the Decision of the Romanian Parliament no.38/2017 on amending and supplementing the Art.9 of the Regulation of the joint activities of the Deputies’ Chamber and the Senate, re constitutional” according to CCR.
The Court’s judges appreciate that the inquiry function of the Parliament is different than the criminal investigation. “The different nature of the two categories of investigations does not make them to be incompatible, they can coexist for a loyal cooperation and collaboration between the state institutions. Therefore, the cessation of the parliamentary inquiry is not necessary or needed, in the circumstances of opening a judicial investigation” the Constitutional Court mentioned.
CCR appreciates that the representatives of certain institutions which are not under Parliament’s control, are obliged to participate in the committee’s work, due to the constitutional principle of the loyal collaboration between the state institutions and authorities. “In the latter category, as an example, is included the President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the Attorney General of Romania, the President of the Superior Council of Magistracy, the President of the Court of Auditors, the president of the Constitutional Court” according to the quoted source.
As for the citizens who do not have any connection to the state institutions, they can ignore the invitation of a parliamentary inquiry committee. The derogation is also extended to magistrates, provided that the invitation to the committee is not related to their duties and professional activity.
“Other persons who, for instance, may have no connection to the state institutions, may also be invited, in which case their participation is at their discretion. Moreover, this latter category may also include judges and prosecutors, if they are not invited in relation to their duties, tasks or professional activity, but as simple individuals” the Court mentions.
On June 14, the Constitutional Court rejected as ungrounded the notification related to the unconstitutionality of the Deputies’ and senators’ Statute by which the persons summoned by the parliamentary inquiry committees are obliged to present in front of the committees.
The decision has been taken by the majority vote of the nine constitutional judges.
On May 15, PNL submitted a notification to the Constitutional Court (CCR) against the amendment of the Deputies’ and Senators’ Statute, according to which any person is obliged to present in order to be heard by a parliamentary inquiry committee. The notification which was initiated by the Liberals, was also supported by USR, so the document was filed to CCR after being signed by 81 parliamentarians.
On May 9, parliamentarians adopted with 198 “pros” and 119 “cons”, the draft of the Decision amending and supplementing the Art.9 of the Regulation of the joint activities of the Deputies’ Chamber and the Senate.
Thus, in order to be heard, the parliamentary inquiry committee may summon any person working within the Government or the other public administration bodies, who may have knowledge of a deed or circumstance capable to serve in finding the truth. The summoned persons are obliged to come in front of the parliamentary inquiry committee.
In case of an unjustified refusal to answer to the committee’s request, it may propose the notification of the head of the authority or institution where the summoned person is working, or it may propose the notification of the criminal prosecution bodies.
The parliamentary inquiry committees may invite any other person who may have knowledge of a deed or circumstance capable to serve in finding the truth in the case that is subject to the committee’s work and who accepts to be heard. The invited person may also answer in writing to the parliamentary inquiry committee, providing the requested information, or may send by mail the documents or other evidence that he or she holds and which are useful to the inquiry committee.
The refusal of the persons invited by the inquiry committee to provide the requested information or the other documents or evidence held, which are useful o the committee’s work, may be considered as an obstruction or prevention against finding the truth and it may be a ground for notifying the criminal prosecution bodies.