PM criticises Supreme Court head's non-adjudication appeal
PM Mateusz Morawiecki in a Thursday-published interview for PAP criticised Supreme Court (SN) head Małgorzata Gersdorf's recent appeal to judges of her court's contested Disciplinary Chamber to refrain from adjudicating.
Morawiecki said such appeals in fact encouraged violation of the law and undermined the status of lawfully appointed judges.
"I appeal to judges to cease issuing statements about refraining from all adjudication. Such statements are nothing but incitement to break laws, and question the status of legally appointed judges," the PM said.
Commenting on the SN Labour Chamber's recent ruling that the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), which appointed the Disciplinary Chamber judges, was not impartial and independent and the chamber itself was not a court, Morawiecki observed that this was not a ruling by the Labour Chamber but only by three of its judges. He added that according to Poland's Supreme Administrative Court the fact that judges were appointed by the Polish president exempted such appointments from further review.
Commenting on the EU Court of Justice's (CJEU's) recent ruling that the SN itself should decide about the independence of the KRS body and its Disciplinary Chamber, passed in reply to the Supreme Court's queries in the matter, Morawiecki said the verdict confirmed that no article of Polish law had been violated. He added that the CJEU verdict also meant that the appointment of judges by the National Council of the Judiciary was not tantamount to their dependence on political authority.
On Tuesday Gersdorf called on the Disciplinary Chamber judges to refrain from all judicial decisions in pending cases. Her appeal follows a December 5 ruling by the Supreme Court's Labour Chamber that the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) is not impartial and independent and the Polish Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber is not a court.
In Gersdorf's opinion, the continuation of judicial proceedings by Disciplinary Chamber judges in cases pending before this chamber may in future make it necessary to financially compensate the sides in such proceedings on grounds of the violation of their right to a fair and public trial by an independent and impartial court established by law.
"In reference to the ruling (...), it should be clearly stated that the continuation of the Disciplinary Chamber's activities constitutes a serious threat to the stability of the legal order in Poland," Gersdorf wrote in a statement.
The December 5 ruling closed one of three cases initiated by Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court judges in connection with retirement regulations for judges. All three are the effect of last year's conflict between Poland and the EU around reforms of both courts.
On November 19, in response to the Polish Supreme Court's queries whether its Disciplinary Chamber was sufficiently independent to rule in such cases, the CJEU ruled that it was up to the Polish court to decide on the chamber's independence, and that it could suspend regulations directing such cases to the chamber if it found it to be insufficiently independent.
Meanwhile on Thursday evening MPs for Poland's ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) filed a bill enabling the removal of judges from their posts. At a press conference in the Sejm (lower house) PiS MPs explained that its aim was to introduce disciplining measures for judges who overstepped their competencies.