The court has overturned the articles in the law regarding new competences conferred to the justice minister.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) had filed an appeal to the Court March 2, arguing that the law gave extraordinary authority to the justice minister.

The ruling paves the way to some uncertainties, as a number of HSYK members were automatically dismissed after the law entered into force in February. New members were subsequently appointed with the final approval of Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, one of the controversial extraordinary competences introduced with the new law.

CHP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu called on the new members of the HSYK “to ethically resign” over the Constitutional Court’s ruling.

“They should resign as soon as the decision is published in the Official Gazette. The independence of the judiciary is very important and no shadow should be cast over it,” Tanrıkulu told daily Hürriyet.

‘Ruling clears Turkey’s path’

Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) head Metin Feyzioğlu praised the ruling, but added that it did not surprise him.

“The Constitutional Court has cleared Turkey’s path. It is one of the decisions that shows how important the Constitutional Court is. It says that, according to the Constitution, there can be no law that contradicts with the independence and neutrality of judges and prosecutors,” Feyzioğlu said.

Regarding the question of the newly appointed members of the HSYK, Feyzioğlu said he expected the Council of State to rule on the matter.

He noted that although the body had ruled for the reinstating of the previous members in a similar situation after a Constitutional Court decision, the decision did not become jurisprudence.

“The Council of State will decide whether or not to refer to that decision,” Feyzioğlu added.

The disputed bill was first passed by Parliament on Feb. 15 after a tense session marked by brawls and fistfights between lawmakers.

Frustrating calls to veto the bill, President Abdullah Gül approved the law on Feb. 25, stating that he had warned the government over 15 elements in 12 articles that were incompatible with the Constitution.

Gül said the bill had been reworked after his warnings, but added that he “deemed it more suitable” that the other articles of the bill be assessed by the Constitutional Court.

In the subsequent process, the Venice Commission, which is an advisory board of the Council of Europe on constitutional law, voiced its expectation that the bill would be overturned after the Constitutional Court’s review.

The law drafted at the beginning of January had also further strained relations between Brussels and Ankara, and the EU Enlargement Commission wrote two letters asking the government to suspend it.

During a visit to Brussels at the end of the same month, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assured European Union officials that the government would not compromise the independence of the judiciary.

On his return, Erdoğan announced that the government would freeze the judicial bill if the opposition accepted a constitutional change restricting the HSYK.

However, after talks mediated by President Gül failed to bear fruit, the government submitted the bill once again to the Parliament agenda amid renewed criticism.

Court rules on privacy on the web

The court also overturned a related law that gave authority for the treatment and protection of private information to the Communication Technologies Institution (BTK).

The rulings mark the latest moves by the Constitutional Court that counter steps taken by the government after the draft accusations and the critical leaked voice recordings.

Published by Hürriyet Daily News