Ali Duran Topuz

Ali Duran Topuz

Dark days for Turkey's Constitutional Court

The Supreme Criminal Court, the minister, and now even the Prosecutor's Office of the Court of Cassation all state that 'the Constitutional Court is not a court.'

The Supreme Criminal Court, the Minister of Justice, and the prosecutor's office of the Court of Cassation all stand united in informing the President of the Constitutional Court: Your court is no longer valid. We may not physically interfere with the building, and we may continue to pay your salaries, but that's where it ends. We no longer acknowledge your rulings!

"The collective duty that lies with us all," recently stated Zuhtu Arslan, the President of the Constitutional Court, adding that the judiciary's duty "is to efficiently execute individual applications as we embark on the second century of our Republic."

He admonished the court he presided over for their procrastination in implementing its decision, a delay that started on October 30, 2023 - the commencement of the second century of the republic.

He spoke in plain, sensible terms, asserting, "Indeed, a diversity of interpretations is a wealth of democratic states of the rule of law." He added, "There is room for this in democratic states of law, but there is no room for one thing - a discord of interpretations."

Dear Mr. Zuhtu, the issue is not musical; the orchestration no longer adheres to law principles! So, what is the issue here? Mr. Zühtü himself has clarified it: "The discord of interpretations, the confusion of understanding, is not something that democratic states of law can tolerate. Because when this happens, we are confronted with the issue of applying differing laws to different people."

Indeed, in today's Turkey, the new legal principle is, unfortunately, "different laws for different people." In other words, there is no longer the rule of law but rather a rule of power: "If we can do something, we will do it, and those who have the power to prevent it will do so."

Mr. Zuhtu, in his speech brimming with criticism and anxiety, also stressed that "the principle of individual application is one of the most significant accomplishments of our 100-year-old republic" as he was speaking and anxiously awaiting the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court to carry out an essential decision of the Constitutional Court. However, the 13th Assize Court forwarded the case to the Court of Cassation during his wait. The minister praised this action, leading to his words becoming the final judgment: "The Constitutional Court does not have the authority to make such an interpretation."

Let's clarify: Neither the Court of Cassation nor any other first-instance court can pass judgment on the Constitutional Court's ruling; they simply implement it. A court is not truly a court until its ruling is implemented. The High Criminal Court, the minister, and now even the Prosecutor's Office of the Court of Cassation all state that 'the Constitutional Court is not a court.' This isn't a chorus of differing opinions; it's the declaration of another judgment: The panel, the minister, and the prosecutor are unified in notifying Mr. Zuhtu: Your court no longer holds authority. We may not physically touch the building or stop paying your salaries, but that's where it ends; we do not recognize your rulings. The question of what an individual gains or loses is irrelevant to us. We are not bound by law; we are only bound by decree."

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