President Radev Vetoes Provision Amending Judicial System Act

President Radev Vetoes Provision Amending Judicial System Act

September 15 (BTA) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has
imposed a suspensory veto on a provision of a law amending the
Judicial System Act passed on September 3, 2020, the
Presidential Press Secretariat said on Tuesday.

The provision concerned makes it possible for a member of the
Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), once his or her term in office
has expired, to be appointed to a higher position in the
judicial system than the one occupied before his or her election
 to the Council, subject to certain eligibility conditions.

Radev argues that magistrates' appointments and promotions
should be based solely on objective criteria, such as
qualifications, skills, integrity and a sense of independence,
which is the principal guarantee of judicial independence, and
that magistrates' membership in the SJC cannot qualify them to
acquire the accomplishments needed to occupy a higher position
in the judicial system nor can be assimilated to the
achievements required for a promotion.

"Where the law creates prerequisites for particular individuals
to be appointed to higher-level judicial authorities on the
basis of criteria other than the objective ones, there is a risk
 that considerations of political nature may prevail and, hence,
 a risk to magistrates' independence," the head of State points

In his opinion, the amended version of the provision violates
yet another important constitutional principle: equality and
inadmissibility of privileges based on personal or social
status. Radev insists that limiting the eligibility for
promotion to SJC members who are magistrates and have not yet
reached the highest levels of the judicial system discriminates
against the rest of the SJC members. The President fears that if
 the amended version is enacted, it would encourage a tendency
of the National Assembly electing ever fewer lawyers and
scholars to the SJC, which erodes the quality of the Council's
performance and its independence. Besides this, there is a
limited number of positions at the top of the judiciary and
competitions for them are announced rarely. In Radev's words,
Parliament is turning the SJC members even before the end of
their term into competitors of the magistrates seeking a
promotion and thus gives rise of the Council denying them equal

In May 2020, these so-called "career bonuses" were attacked by
the Supreme Court of Cassation before the Constitutional Court
as violating the principles of separation of powers and
independence of the judiciary. NV/LG

Source: Sofia