Mikheil Sarjveladze, an MP from the ruling Georgian Dream party, on Wednesday called the proposal by the domestic opposition for the formation of a Parliamentary inquiry into alleged cases of corruption and other violations in the country’s judiciary a “harmful initiative”.
In his comments for the media on the initiative that came last week, in light of the United States Department of State’s sanctions on three current and one former Georgian judges for “significant corruption” earlier this month, the lawmaker stressed such a precedent could create “threats” to independence of the courts.
A very dangerous precedent can be created when we make individual judges accountable to the Parliament - to political authorities - when they are accountable only to the law and the constitution”, Sarjveladze said and added the initiative was expected to bring more evil [than good], no matter how noble the motives may seem”.
The MP pledged to ensure “maximum efforts” to reject the initiative along with the ruling party.
The issue of setting up the commission could not be voted on due to a lack of quorum, as GD lawmakers refused to register for the plenary session twice on Wednesday.
Adoption of a decision to form the commission would require 50 votes - which the opposition has - but the voting on the motion can only be held if the necessary number of MPs - 76 - register for the voting in the 150-member Parliament. The latter threshold has not been met since Tuesday with the refusal of ruling party legislators to register their participation.
Irakli Kobakhidze, the Chair of the ruling party, on Tuesday said MPs of the majority had refused to register for the vote in an “act of solidarity” with domestic judges and “in the interest of the court's independence”.
Shalva Papuashvili, the Parliament Speaker, on Wednesday said he also “fully supported” the majority’s move, but had to undergo registration due to his position.
The opposition and domestic watchdogs for the judiciary have claimed the Government is trying to “shield” a “clan of judges” in the judiciary, whom they have accused of “loyalty” to the country’s authorities.
The State Department imposed visa restrictions on acting judges Mikheil Chinchaladze, Levan Murusidze and Irakli Shengelia and former judge Valerian Tsertsvadze for their alleged involvement in “significant corruption”, which means they and their family members will be barred from entering the country.
The judges and the country’s Government have criticised the US for the “unfair decision”, claiming it had been presented “unexpectedly and without evidence”.