World Bulletin / News Desk
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has announced it will soon file a case at the Constitutional Court seeking the annulment of a law that was recently passed in Parliament to address Turkey's long-standing problem of a heavy judicial backlog.
CHP Manisa deputy Şahin Mengü said that he had begun working on the petition. "We will go to the Constitutional Court. I am writing the petition," he said.
The law was approved by President Abdullah Gül on Sunday and published in the Official Gazette. The new law, which aims to alleviate the burden of the high judiciary, will bring the total number of chambers in the Supreme Court of Appeals from 32 to 38 and increase the number of Council of State chambers from 13 to 15. The two bodies are currently overwhelmed by an enormous workload of 2 million cases, according to the latest figures. The new chambers will also take on the responsibilities of the Military High Administrative Court (AYİM) as well as those of the Military Supreme Court of Appeals.
In accordance with the law, the government will appoint 137 new judges for the Supreme Court of Appeals and 61 for the Council of State. In this way, thousands of case files will be taken from the dusty shelves of these courts and suspects will no longer have to wait years to appear before the court.
The opposition and a number of senior judges, however, have been arguing that the government aims to use the changes to take control of the high judiciary.
The president, who spoke to a group of journalists on board a plane en route to Tehran late on Sunday, explained the reason for why he approved the law despite the opposition's arguments. Recalling that 200,000 cases at the Supreme Court of Appeals will be dropped within five years due to the statute of limitations if no measures are taken, Gül said, "I approved the law because there was such an appalling situation."
Commenting on Gül's remarks and approval of the changes, Supreme Court of Appeals President Hasan Gerçeker said that he does not think the changes will be sufficient to address the problems faced by the judiciary. "I hope these changes prevent these 200,000 cases from being dropped. We were of the opinion that these measures would not be able to do this by themselves, but we will do our best. ... These are temporary measures. Radical reforms should certainly be carried out. A to Z reform is needed, beginning from local courts," he said.
Gerçeker reiterated his call to the government to put regional appellate courts into operation. "There is no other solution. Regional appellate courts should begin functioning. As long as the current flow of cases to the Supreme Court of Appeals continues, we will have to open more and more chambers. Regional appellate courts would prevent this," he added.
Another staunch opponent of the reform, Council of State President Mustafa Birden also leveled criticism and said the changes will not be able to lighten the workload of the Council of State. Recalling that he had previously conveyed his concerns about the law to the president, he said what he can do now is just implement the legislation. Birden said the Committee of Presidents will soon have a meeting to discuss its implementation.
"173,000 cases carried over into 2010"
Data provided by Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin in his response to a parliamentary question by Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Ali Rıza Ertemür on the workload of the judiciary have revealed that 173,016 cases at labor courts were carried over into 2010 since they could not be heard in 2009.
According to the data, the number of cases left over for the following year has increased over the past five years. While 150,887 of the overall 265,572 cases filed in 2005 were carried over into 2006, 173,016 of the overall 297,252 cases filed in 2009 were carried over into 2010.
According to data provided by Ergin, İstanbul holds the record in the heavy backlog of labor courts. A total of 85,940 cases were filed at İstanbul labor courts in 2009, 56,706 of which were carried over into the next year. In Ankara, 28,806 of the overall 46,767 cases filed in the same year were carried over into 2010.
The data once again highlighted the need for comprehensive judicial reform.
Last Mod: 14 Şubat 2011, 15:18