Public Defender Files Amicus Curiae Brief with Constitutional Court relating Nikanor Melia’s Case
On February 10, 2020, Public Defender filed an amicus curiae brief with the Constitutional Court of Georgia relating Nikanor Melia’s constitutional suit that argues the constitutionality of the Parliament’s decision to deprive the MP from his authority.
According to Tbilisi City Court’s ruling of 2 December 2019, Nukanor Melia was fined and deprived of his right to hold public office, on the basis of which, he was deprived of his parliamentary power on December 12.
According to the information obtained by the Public Defender’s Office from the Tbilisi City Court, the verdict against Nikanor Melia has not yet been enforced. The court explains that the verdict is to be enforced after the appeal procedures are completed and the final instance makes the final decision.
The amicus curiae brief explains in what case the guilty verdict may serve as grounds for deprivation of parliamentary power. According to the practice of the Constitutional Court, the notion of a ‘verdict that has entered into force’ has autonomous content, and it is necessary to protect the principle of proportionality when depriving an elected MP of his/her authority.
According to the practice of common courts, a verdict is immediately enforced when it imposes a custodial penalty, while non-custodial penalty is enforced only after there are no more opportunities for appealing against the verdict are used or the term of appealing expires. The same difference can be interpreted from the analyses of the rules of procedures of the Parliament of Georgia and the constitution of Georgia.
The Constitutional Court fairly pays particular attention to the protection of proportionality in case of interference with the powers of the authorities elected by people, under democratic rules. The court refers to the necessity of observing proportionality, bearing in mind that the term of office of an elected official is limited and it is objectively impossible to later compensate for the missed period.
The amicus curiae brief addresses exactly the issue of proportionality. Consequently, it concludes that an MP can be deprived of his/her authority only if the court of first instance imposes custodial penalty, while in case if non-custodial penalty, an MP can be deprived of his/her authority only after there are no more opportunities for appealing against the verdict or the term of appealing expires.
The Public Defender hopes that the amicus curiae brief will help the Constitutional Court of Georgia fairly and lawfully resolve the case.