The Congress will begin to discuss from next Tuesday, in extraordinary sessions, a new composition of the Judicial Council, after the Supreme Court established that its current composition of 13 members is “unconstitutional.”
The first parliamentary proposal to reform the Council, presented on December 6 -ten days before the Court’s ruling-, bears the signature of President Alberto Fernández and proposes expanding the body to 17 members and half of them being women.
The Executive’s project adds two lawyers, a judge and a member of the academic sector and understands that in this way the relationship of strength between the sectors that make up the Council is balanced.
The initiative entered the Senate and everything indicates, according to parliamentary sources, that the ruling party has the votes to grant half sanction to the initiative and turn it over to the Chamber of Deputies.
In the lower house, the opposition has already presented several projects that foresee an integration of 20 members, as it was until the 2006 modification, 14 members and up to 7, seeking a “balanced” representation of the sectors as ordered by the high court.
The one with the greatest political scope is the one presented by the head of the UCR block, Mario Negri, which, if approved, would leave the integration at 20 members, with the head of the Supreme Court, Horacio Rosatti, as president, and a significant growth of the judges, lawyers and academics over political members.
Precisely the advisor and deputy of the PRO, Pablo Tonelli, presented his own project that leaves the Council as it is but incorporates a representative of the Court, “appointed by that court.”
Finally, the former federal judge and opposition deputy for Formosa, Fernando Carbajal, lowers the members of the organization to 7: a judge, a lawyer, an academic, a representative of the people and three national deputies.
While Congress begins the discussion on Tuesday, the Council itself must adapt to the Court’s ruling, that is, change its current composition, before mid-April under penalty of its decisions losing validity.
As soon as the ruling was known in mid-December, the Council began a round of consultations between the representatives of judges and lawyers to organize the elections of the new members.
The Court ruled that the Council must return to the conformation sanctioned in 1999, later modified in 2006, of 20 members and for that two lawyers, a judge and an academician must be elected.
For this procedure, the ruling granted a term of 120 days that began to run on December 16, when the highest court signed its decision.
In that period, which will expire on April 15, in order to continue operating, the Council must supervise the election of two lawyers out of a universe of assistance of some 25,000 registered throughout the country, according to the last election of councilors.
In addition, the magistrates must also elect their counselor, in smaller elections with an estimated participation of around a thousand judges from all judicial districts.
And finally, the rectors of the national and provincial public universities, grouped in the National Interuniversity Council (CIN), will have to designate their representative.
All these conditions that the Council tries to meet against the clock, could be abstracted if Congress manages to agree on a rule and approves a law before April 15.