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21 July, 2024
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Supreme court rejects President's referendum on Turkish Cypriot properties

Court rules in favor of Parliament

Newsroom / CNA

In a significant ruling, the Supreme Constitutional Court, in its new composition, rejected the President's third referendum on the amendment law passed by the Parliament concerning Turkish Cypriot properties and the powers of the 'Guardian.'

Specifically, the law in question modifies Article 7(1) of the basic law by adding a new provision, before the first reservation, stipulating that, before granting any usage license for Turkish Cypriot immovable property for housing or commercial purposes, the Guardian shall, for security reasons, prepare a relevant study on the structural adequacy of the property.

The President's position, as articulated by the Legal Service representative, centered on the argument that the above addition increases the budgetary expenses, thus violating Article 80.2 of the Constitution.

It is contended that the preparation of a study on structural adequacy entails an increase in expenses and/or labor hours that the Guardian does not possess, resulting in outsourcing to the private sector, which is not provided for in the state budget.

The Attorney for the Parliament, Andreas S. Angelidis, argued that the referral is baseless and should be rejected. He claimed that not only does the law not directly increase the budget, but it does not appear in any way to lead to any increase.

Any expenditure for a study of structural adequacy, he suggested, concerns the property's administrator, i.e., the Guardian, and will be borne by the Turkish Cypriot Property Fund. He also added that the Parliament acted exclusively within its constitutionally provided powers, within the framework of its "authority over any matter" under the specific legislation.

After recording jurisprudential principles that preceded the matter, the Court concluded that the law did not impose a burden on the budget, nor did it violate the Separation of Powers, as the referred amendment falls within the legislative authority of the Parliament.

In its unanimous decision yesterday, the Court stated, among other things, that "the Referendum Law amends the basic law by adding a new provision, through which the Guardian is charged with ensuring, for security reasons, the preparation of a relevant study regarding the structural adequacy of Turkish Cypriot immovable property before any usage license is granted."

It is noteworthy to mention at this stage that the enactment of the basic law arose as an imperative need for the State to take the necessary measures under the circumstances created as a result of the Turkish invasion, for the purpose of managing and protecting the Turkish Cypriot properties that were abandoned, for as long as necessary.

The Court also noted that "in a series of decisions of the Supreme Court, it was judged that the measures taken were necessary for the State to meet the needs created and served the interests of the social order. The constitutionality of the Law was also confirmed, and the legislative provisions were justified based on the application of the Law of Necessity."

The Court emphasizes that "the House of Representatives, acting within its powers, conferred, through the provisions of the basic law, a series of powers on the Guardian, in order to fulfill the role entrusted to him as the manager of Turkish Cypriot properties."

Article 5 stipulates that in managing these properties, the Guardian shall have all the rights and obligations of a Turkish Cypriot owner. Without prejudice to this generality, Article 6 provided for the collection of due amounts and their disposal in the most beneficial way for the property. It also includes the authority to care for, improve, and develop the property, and in general, to perform any act that may potentially involve management.

The scope of the referred provision is identical, and the manner of its supervision and implementation is entrusted to the Guardian. Accordingly, the referred provision falls within the framework of the legislative work of the House of Representatives and does not entail any intervention in the powers of the Executive Authority.

The Court concludes by stating that "the Referendum Law is not contrary to the provisions of Article 80.2 or, by extension, Article 179 of the Constitution. Nor does it violate the constitutional principle of Separation of Powers."

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  court  |  president  |  parliament

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