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Supreme Court judges: Chief Justice acts against the law

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Poland's Supreme Court judges accuse Chief Justice of law violationTVN24
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TVN24Poland's Supreme Court judges accuse Chief Justice of law violation

CJEU rulings should be respected by all Polish authorities, but first and foremost by the constitutional body, which the First President of the Supreme Court is - head of the Supreme Court's Criminal Chamber judge Michał Laskowski said on Tuesday. A group of Justices issued a joint statement in which they said that decision by Chief Justice Małgorzata Manowska regarding the contested Disciplinary Chamber was "contrary to the CJEU ruling and in violation of the law".

Last week, the Court of Justice of the European Union found that the system of disciplining judges in Poland was at odds with the EU law. The day before the ruling, Vice-President of the CJEU Rosario Silva de Lapuerta had imposed interim measures against Poland and ordered the country to immediately suspend applying the local law allowing the functioning of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Shortly after, the First President of the Supreme Court Małgorzata Manowska said she suspended implementation of the interim measures imposed by the CJEU, which allowed the Disciplinary Chamber to carry on with taking disciplinary measures against Polish judges, despite the CJEU ruling.

"Chief Justice violates the law"

At a press conference on Tuesday, judge Michał Laskowski - the chief of the Supreme Court's Criminal Chamber, read out a joint statement by nine members of the Supreme Court Council. The judges argue that the CJEU ruling from July 15 should cause an "immediate suspension of all operation of the Disciplinary Chamber", and that the ruling should be executed by the First President of Supreme Court.

"The ordinance issued by Manowska, which allows the Disciplinary Chamber to fully operate, is contrary to the said ruling and is a violation of the law. Refusal to call an extraordinary meeting of the Supreme Court Council regarding the said issue, which prevents discussion on this important and urgent matter, is a failure to properly carry out duties of the First President of the Supreme Court," judge Laskowski read out the statement.

"The ruling of the Luxembourg-based court should be respected by all Polish authorities, but first and foremost by the constitutional body, which the First President of the Supreme Court is," he stressed.

Should the Disciplinary Chamber carry on with its work?

Supreme Court's spokesman Aleksander Stępkowski was asked by reporters whether the Disciplinary Chamber should comply with the CJEU ruling and suspend its operations. "This is a question for Disciplinary Chamber judges, and they should make their own independent decision on how to react to the CJEU ruling," the spokesman said.

The reporters also asked him whether the Chief Justice should comply with the EU's top court ruling. "The first president does not have authority to decide what rulings should or should not be passed in a given chamber. The law regulates the mode of functioning and the shape of the justice system in Poland, in accordance with the Polish constitution. No law grants such authority to the First President of the Supreme Court," judge Stępkowski said.

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