The court said that certain passages in the laws contravened the constitution and international agreements.
It annulled the law on the right to freedom of conscience and religion, the churches, denominations and religious communities, otherwise known as the church law, which was passed in July, but has not yet entered into force.
The court said it was the process of lawmaking itself, whereby several major amendments had been put forward prior to the final vote against House Rules.
The provisions in the media law the top court ruled unconstitutional include those concerning the regulation of media content, the protection of journalists’ sources and the institution of the media ombudsman.
The top court also said it had received several submissions that criticised measures affecting press freedom, and basic rules governing media content, media services and mass communication. Among those submissions the court ruled against regulations governing the printed and online press.
On the law regulating criminal procedures, the court said that the rule on jurisdiction that certain cases are heard at the court where the prosecutor raises the charges was also unconstitutional. Further the handling of witness data in a way that limits the freedom of information and the 120-hour detention rule, whereby the defendant would not have access to a lawyer during the first 48 hours, were also dismissed by the top court.
The ruling Fidesz party will seek to bring the annulled provisions of the media law and the criminal-procedure law into line with the constitution, Fidesz parliamentary group leader János Lazár told MTI on Monday. “In spite of all rumours”, Fidesz had no knowledge about the top court’s Monday rulings in advance, he said. “We respect the integrity of the Constitutional Court, and hold no consultations with it behind closed doors,” said Lazár.
The Monday rulings truly demonstrate that Hungary is governed by a rule of law, Péter Harrach, parliamentary leader of the Christian Democrats, the minor force in the ruling alliance, told MTI. He added that the errors committed during the passing of the church law could have been avoided if the original bill drafted by the Christian Democrats and the State Secretariat for Church Affairs, had been kept.
The opposition Socialists said that the church law ended up in the place it belonged, the “dustbin”. Lawmaker Istvan Nyakó demanded that state secretary for church affairs Laszló Szászfalvi should resign. Nyakó also called upon the governing parties to refrain from limiting the operation of religious communities.
The green party LMP qualified the Monday rulings as a “series of slaps in the face of Viktor Orbán’s government”. András Schiffer, the party’s parliamentary leader, noted that the church law had been annulled for procedural reasons, namely a series of last-minute amendments which “completely destroyed” the original bill.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party qualified the rulings as a “drop in the ocean”. Party lawmaker Előd Novák said Fidesz would only apply “alibi” changes to the church and media laws and would continue to pass a new set of unconstitutional laws which can no longer be challenged in the top court.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 December 2011 15:35