Paylaş | 14 February 2024

A swearing-in ceremony for the newly-elected Justice, Mr. Yılmaz Akçil, was held at the Grand Tribunal Hall of the Constitutional Court.

The ceremony was attended by President of the Republic of Türkiye Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Mr. Numan Kurtulmuş, President of the Council of State Mr. Zeki Yiğit, Minister of Justice Mr. Yılmaz Tunç, members of the high judiciary, and other distinguished guests.

Delivering his speech following a moment of silence and the playing of the Turkish National Anthem, President Arslan congratulated Mr. Akçil on his new appointment and wished him success in his new role. He expressed his hope that Mr. Akçil’s tenure as a justice would be auspicious for himself, his family, the Constitutional Court, and the nation.

Pacta sunt servanda is an indispensable moral and legal principle for societal and state life.”

Noting that the swearing-in, in one sense, signified the act of making a pact and concluding a treaty, necessitating adherence to the pacta sunt servanda principle, President Arslan stated, Pacta sunt servanda, which means that promises must be fulfilled, is an indispensable moral and legal principle for societal and state life. In fact, the stability of the State is predicated on the protection of the constitution, regarded as a social contract, and the fundamental rights and freedoms that constitute its raison d’être, ultimately depending on the realisation of the pacta sunt servanda principle.”

Indicating that the robes worn upon taking office as a judge represented justice and the significant responsibility it entailed, President Arslan highlighted the public’s belief that beneath these robes, justice would be administered properly, any injustices would be remedied, and disputes would be resolved without conflict. He added, “Our robes symbolise the public’s trust in justice. Upon swearing our oath, it is our duty to refrain from any actions that might erode this trust, upholding our commitment to the pacta sunt servanda principle.”

“Individual application is one of the greatest reforms in Turkish judicial history.”

President Arslan remarked that the Constitutional Court adopted a rights-based approach in interpreting the Constitution, in line with the objectives set forth by the constitution-maker, and contributed to the resolution of numerous longstanding legal issues through its decisions/judgments. In this sense, he indicated that the Court had so far rendered hundreds of thousands of decisions/judgments on rights and freedoms falling under the scope of the individual application mechanism, including but not limited to right to life, freedom of expression, right to property, and freedom of association, without bias towards the identity of the applicant. He further expressed “These decisions/judgments have significantly fulfilled the intended function of the individual application mechanism in addressing issues within our national legal order, as envisioned by the constitution-maker.”

“Individual application is not an appellate remedy.”

Addressing misconceptions about individual application, a mechanism creating an overwhelming impression on the legal agenda, President Arslan emphasised that individual application was not an appellate remedy. He clarified, “In cases not involving any issue as to the interpretation and application of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court does not, in principle, engage in the examination of the facts giving rise to an individual application. Nor does it interpret the rules and principles applied, assess the evidence, or evaluate whether the decision reached at the end of proceedings is correct or justified. The Constitutional Court confines itself, within the scope of the duties and powers conferred upon it, to examining whether any constitutional right or freedom of the applicant has been violated during the proceedings.”

“There can be no justification for the failure to enforce the decisions/judgments of the Constitutional Court.”

Indicating that decisions and judgments of the Constitutional Court are final and binding on all individuals and institutions, President Arslan pointed out that there could be no justification for the failure to enforce the Court’s decisions/judgments. He further emphasised that while no one was obliged to endorse the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution and constitutional provisions or its decisions/judgments, adherence to them was a constitutional obligation in a state governed by the rule of law. He also added, “Undoubtedly, all courts, including appellate bodies, engage in the interpretation of the Constitution during the judicial decision-making process that is the subject of an individual application. However, individual applications against court decisions involving such interpretation can only be lodged after the exhaustion of ordinary legal remedies, as enshrined in Article 148 of the Constitution. In this respect, it is exclusively the Constitutional Court that is empowered, within our legal system, to interpret the Constitution in a final and binding manner and to oversee judicial acts and actions of public power.”

“The effectiveness of the individual application mechanism is dependent on the elimination of violations and their consequences.”

President Arslan, stating that the Constitutional Court’s mandate extended beyond identifying violations to prescribing measures for their elimination and redress, highlighted that redressing a violation and the consequences thereof was to ensure restoration of the original state prior to the violation, which necessitated –in cases where the violation stemmed from a court decision–, the revoking of the decision that caused the violation.

Recalling the final nature of the Court’s decisions/judgments, as outlined in Article 153 of the Constitution, as well as their binding force for the legislative, executive, and judicial powers, as well as for the administrative authorities and both natural and legal persons, President Arslan stated “As a matter of fact, the enforcement of violation judgments is not only a consequence of Article 153 of the Constitution but, more importantly, reflects the Constitution’s role as a social contract that binds us all, legitimises our powers, and imposes an obligation of loyalty to this contract and the pacta sunt servanda principle.”

Following President Arslan’s address, the ceremony proceeded with the presentation of the curriculum vitae of the newly-elected Justice Mr. Yılmaz Akçil, who then took his oath. Mr. Akçil was vested with his robe by President Arslan.

Click for the full text of the speech delivered by President Zühtü Arslan.