Investigation into Turkish Constitutional Court raises questions
The recent decision by the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation to file a criminal complaint against members of the Constitutional Court (AYM) that ruled for the release of Turkish Workers' Party (TİP) deputy Can Atalay has raised questions regarding the procedure of the investigation.
Under the Law on the Establishment of the Constitutional Court, any investigation into court members is decided by its General Assembly, which requires a minimum of 10 members out of 15 to convene. However, the controversial decision on Atalay was made with the votes of only nine members.
As reported by T24, the law stipulates that members facing a criminal complaint are not permitted to attend the General Assembly session concerning the issue, leading to confusion about how the assembly can meet the necessary quorum. The onus falls on the President of the Constitutional Court to process the allegations, but this authority only extends to complaints without evidence or grounds.
The decision to release Atalay, made on September 25, was signed by 14 court members, with nine voting that Atalay's rights had been violated and, thus, he should be released. The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation has subsequently decided to file a criminal complaint against these members for overstepping their authority, leading to potential charges against the President, deputy presidents, and court members.
The investigation procedure is outlined in the Law on the Establishment and Trial Procedures of the Constitutional Court, and the initial step is to verify concrete evidence supporting the allegations. The issue is referred to the General Assembly following a preliminary examination. However, members under investigation are not permitted to attend this meeting, leading to further questions about the process.
The General Assembly can form an Investigation Board with the same powers as a prosecutor to carry out the investigation. If the chairman is under investigation, their duties are fulfilled by the senior deputy chairman.
However, with 14 out of 15 members agreeing with the Atalay decision and nine voting in favor of the violation, there are questions about who can make the final decision.