Turkey's Constitutional Court President says their rulings 'final and binding'

Turkey's Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan has said that their rulings were “final and binding” and it was “not legitimate” to disobey them while commenting on top appeals court’s refusal to comply with their rulings twice regarding jailed TİP MP Atalay.

Duvar English

Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM) President Zühtü Arslan on Jan. 12 said that non-compliance with their rulings was “not legitimate” as they were “final and binding” constitutionally.

Speaking at a ceremony held for law school students interning at the Court, Arslan said “There can be no justification for not implementing the decision of the Constitutional Court. Failure to comply with some decisions undermines the right to individual application,” referring to the top appeals court’s dismissals of the AYM rulings that found rights violations in Workers’ Party of Turkey (TİP) MP Can Atalay’s imprisonment.

Arslan said “interpretation difference” was also cited as a reason for not complying with the violation decisions, and added that the Constitutional Court “is given the authority to rule on the dispute by the Constitution in a final and binding manner.”

“After the Constitutional Court decides on an issue and has the final say, we have to abide by it even if we disagree. Disagreeing with a judicial decision is one thing, not complying with it is another. The first is legitimate, the second is not. Let's not forget that court decisions must be implemented not because they are flawless, correct, or because we like them, but because they are court decisions,” he added.

He noted that it was “impossible” to reconcile the ruling and interpretation of the Court of Cassation, the top appeals court, with “the most basic legal logic.”

In his speech, Arslan also said the implementation of the practice of individual application to the Court has both provided a better protection of fundamental rights and freedoms and reduced the number of applications and violations filed against Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights in 12 years.

What happened?

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Turkey's top appeals court, on Jan. 3 dismissed the second Constitutional Court (AYM) ruling that found rights violations in TİP MP Can Atalay’s imprisonment.

The AYM first on Oct. 25 ruled by a majority of votes that there was a violation of rights in the case of Atalay in terms of "the right to vote and be elected and the right to personal security and liberty."

The 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation on Nov. 8 refused to comply with the AYM ruling. The court also filed a criminal complaint against AYM justices who voted for Atalay’s release, claiming they violated the constitution and exceeded their authority.

Then, the AYM on Dec. 26 released a statement and underscored that the "Court of Cassation has rendered a decision that is not found in Turkish law, stating non-compliance with the Constitutional Court's decision."

The AYM commented that referral of a case within the jurisdiction of the first-instance court to the Court of Cassation, top appeals court, and the latter’s decision disregarding constitutional provisions “clearly constituted a violation of the constitution.”

Atalay received an 18-year prison sentence for allegedly "attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey" during the 2013 Gezi Park protests.