Top judge HaIim KIlIç becomes star of judiciary

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Constitutional Court President HaIim KIlIç, or in other words, the top judge of the country, is one of the officials everyone has been talking about recently.

According to some observers, the judge is making history by challenging the government of powerful Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan, and according to others, he is defying the state order by leading on controversial court rulings that harm the country’s interests. Debates over compliance with those rulings are likely to top the national agenda for several more days. But what is evident to many, if not the entire Turkish population, is that KIlIç has become the shining star of the judiciary.

KIlIç’s Constitutional Court first overturned a notorious ban on Twitter, arguing that the two-week ban on the platform is a violation of the right to free expression. This was the first moment that set the cat among the pigeons. Prime Minister ErdoIan harshly criticized the ruling, saying it would harm Turkey’s national interests. The prime minister’s implicit warning, however, failed to prevent KIlIç and the top court from fighting for the supremacy of law. In another decision that was surprising to many, the court partially annulled a highly controversial law on the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The decision deepened the rift between the Constitutional Court and the government, with the prime minister accusing the court’s judges overstepping their boundaries and telling them to “take off their robes” if they want to participate in politics.

Now, almost everyone is certain that the government will soon use its political power to restructure the Constitutional Court, as it has with many other judicial bodies recently. Yet, people are also certain that some jurists are still courageous enough to fight the power of the government.

Ömer Iahin from Radikal said KIlIç has become a “hero” to some circles that hate bans since the Constitutional Court has made a number of decisions to fight bans. “KIlIç has never been a typical bureaucrat,” according to the columnist, who described the top judge as a conservative figure. “KIlIç is a symbolic figure who managed to be appointed to posts that some conservatives could once barely imagine,” Iahin said. Iahin added that KIlIç was born to a village family but managed to become the top man in the judiciary. He came into prominence in 2008 when he opposed the closure of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). “He had some problems, as his wife wears the headscarf. But some people, who once thought that KIlIç was not a proper name for the president of the Constitutional Court, now consider him a potential candidate for president,” Iahin noted.

According to Milliyet’s Mehmet Tezkan, the Constitutional Court has prevented the justice minister from “fooling around with” the judiciary by partially annulling the HSYK law. “The HYSK’s inspection board will no longer be directly subordinate to the justice minister. And the justice minister will no longer be allowed to reshape the chambers of the HSYK,” Tezkan said. The columnist also drew attention to a statement by Justice Minister Bekir BozdaI that the “timing of the Constitutional Court’s decision on the HYSK law is meaningful.” Tezkan said government officials usually make statements about timing when they do not like court statements.

GuNAY HILAL AYGuN (CihanToday’s Zaman) C