Polish judge, government critic, launches legal action to lift suspension

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Judge Igor Tuleya stands in front of the National Public Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) - A suspended Polish judge fiercely critical of the government's judicial reforms launched legal action on Monday to get his job back, as his lawyer submitted a demand that he be allowed to adjudicate at a court in Warsaw.

Critics of Poland's right-wing government see Igor Tuleya's suspension in November as part of efforts to increase political influence over the courts. The move also deepened a rift between Warsaw and the European Union over the rule of law in Poland.

Brussels says the disciplinary chamber of the Polish Supreme Court, which removed Tuleya's immunity from prosecution, is not independent. Many legal professionals in Poland opposed to the government's reforms do not recognise the chamber's authority.

"The unlawful refusal to admit Judge Tuleya to adjudication may affect the impartiality and independence of other judges," Tuleya's lawyer, Michal Romanowski said in a statement.

An appeals court said in February in a separate case that Tuleya shoud be allowed to work.

Tuleya is facing disciplinary proceedings over allowing media access to a 2017 court hearing at which he ruled on a sensitive case regarding the lawfulness of a parliamentary vote on the budget at which opposition politicians were not present.

Tuleya told Reuters by telephone he would take his case to a European court if the Polish courts rejected his bid to be allowed to adjudicate.

"In this fight to defend the rule of law... it is important to use every admissable legal route," he said.

Poland's ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) say their reforms are necessary to improve the efficiency of the courts and remove a residue of Communist influence. Tuleya himself has faced criticism from the government as representing judges who see themselves as being above the law.

Warsaw District Court and the ministry of justice did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Gareth Jones)