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    Budgetary Dispute in Polish Parliament Raises Concerns Over Judicial Independence

    The Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Human Rights (“Sejmowa Komisja Sprawiedliwości i Praw Człowieka”) has given a negative evaluation to the 2024 budget proposal, particularly concerning the budgets of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Tribunal, National Council of the Judiciary, and Institute of National Remembrance. While certain sections, such as the budget for the Administrative Supreme Court and others, received positive reviews, contentious debates have arisen over key judicial institutions.

    Challenges to Judicial Independence:
    The Committee criticized budget plans for the Supreme Court, Constitutional Tribunal, Council of the Judiciary, and Institute of National Remembrance. Calls for cost reductions within the judiciary faced resistance, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, stating legal constraints on suspending specific chambers.

    Political Divisions and Accusations:
    Political figures exchanged accusations during the session, with a Tusk-aligned parliamentarian, Jaskulski, questioning the impartiality of the Constitutional Tribunal. In response, a member of the ruling party emphasized the obligation to respect state institutions, cautioning against attempts to undermine the Tribunal’s budget.

    Controversies Over Historical Institutions:
    Disagreements extended to budget plans for the Institute of National Remembrance and the Council of the Judiciary, both failing to gain committee support. References to past budget restrictions on the Ombudsman during the ruling party’s tenure further fueled the debate.

    Upcoming Steps:
    The budget proposal, including a notable 20% increase in salaries for common court workers, is set for a second reading on January 10th, with a voting session on January 12th. The Senate aims to conclude its review by January 22nd, anticipating presidential approval by January 29th.

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