26 March 2021
Co-Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, Prof Ryszard Legutko, has rebutted claims that the Polish Supreme Court failed to uphold the rule of law principle by departing from the Court of Justice of the European Union's (CJEU) interim measure.
Reacting to a letter, co-signed by European Parliament majority group leaders addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and published on the news media website Politico Europe, Co-Chairman Prof Legutko stated:
“First and foremost, it should be pointed out that it is not true that the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court did not follow the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) interim measure. The Commission, in case C-791/19 conducted before the CJEU, is currently interrogating the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court on whether adjudicating in disciplinary cases against judges is within its field of competence. Upon request of the Commission, the CJEU decided on the application ofthe interim measure of 8 April, 2020, in which it ordered Poland to suspend the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber to the extent that it conducts disciplinary proceedings in cases relating to judges.
“It must be underlined that the Disciplinary Chamber, since its establishment in 2017, adjudicates also in other, non-disciplinary cases. This is why it was lawfully possible and in accordance with the interim measure for the Disciplinary Chamber to waive the immunity of Judge Igor Tuleya on 18 November 2020; as cases concerning waiving the immunity are not disciplinary proceedings and are not covered by the interim measure. Based on these facts, it is not true that the Disciplinary Chamber is operating illegally. This interpretation was also indirectly backed by the Commission by broadening the scope of the infringement proceedings concerning the Disciplinary Chamber to include waiver of immunity cases as well. Earlier claims did not take this aspect into account.
“Both Judge Tuleya and the other three judges against whom applications for waivers of immunity were made are to be charged with criminal offenses. In every Member State, wherever judges enjoy immunity, there must be a way to waive it. Without such a possibility, judges would be above the law and would not be criminally liable for any crimes committed. It should also be taken into account that after judges’ immunity has been waived, their criminal cases will be conducted before the relevant criminal courts. They will not be tried in disciplinary proceedings by the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.
“The letter of the leaders of the majority groups of the European Parliament once again shows double standards: The standard procedure for the waiver of judges’ immunity, conducted in every Member State where judges have immunity to be able to bring criminal charges against these judges, is attacked only in Poland. The very strict adherence to the interim measure is also attacked with completely untrue and extra-legal allegations. Such behaviour only strengthens Poland and Poles in the conviction that their actions are right.“
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