ECJ: Polish Supreme Court should be judging Disciplinary Chamber's independence
It's the Supreme Court that should be assessing independence of the new Disciplinary Chamber, in order to establish whether or not it should be settling disputes regarding Supreme Court Justices' retirement - the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.
Had the Supreme Court found that the Disciplinary Chamber lacks independence and impartiality, it could - in line with the ECJ ruling - cease to apply regulations that allow the Disciplinary Chamber to settle disputes regarding Supreme Court Justices' retirement.
The EU Court said that it's unacceptable to leave settling EU law disputes only in the hands of a court (organ) which is considered not independent or not impartial.
Judges in Luxembourg explained that such situation occurs when the objective circumstances under which a given organ, as well as the method of appointing its members, raise justifiable public concerns regarding its independence from external pressure, especially influence from the legislative and executive powers.
These elements, the ECJ stressed, "may cause an organ to cease giving clear signs of independence or impartiality, which may, in turn, undermine trust the judiciary should inspire in the public in a democratic society".
The verdict has been read out by judge Marek Safjan.
The chairman of the new Polish National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), judge Leszek Mazur, said that the ECJ's ruling was ambiguous. "That's what we've expected," Mazur added. He also stated that the ruling by the EU Court wouldn't exert an immediate impact on the KRS functioning.
Poland's President Andrzej Duda said the ECJ's verdict was "telling". "One can distinguish a hidden statement that the issues the Supreme Court was asking about are of political nature, which should be settled at home, and that the EU Court won't be settling these matters on behalf of Poles," Polish President said.
Civic Coalition MP Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz said the ruling "is a clear signal that changes done to the judiciary are violate the EU law".
The Civic Platform leader Grzegorz Schetyna referred to the verdict by calling it "a very serious decision". "No other country received such reprimand in the last years and conclusions must be drawn," Schetyna stressed.
"The Court of Justice of the EU said exactly what I had expected. The Constitutional Tribunal will have the final say on this matter," said Poland's justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro.