Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

25 Teves 5759 - Jan. 13, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Rabbi Meir Porush: "Judges Should be Elected"

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

At a recent Government meeting, Deputy Housing and Construction Minister, Rabbi Meir Porush, sharply protested the Justice Minister's raising of the three Basic Laws at the Ministerial Committee for Legislation. By doing so, Justice Minister, Tzachi Hanegbi broke their six-month-old agreement to the effect that these laws would be subject to a discussion at a forum of the coalition heads before any decision is made on the issue.

These statements were made last week at a meeting on the proposed reforms in the courts. The Justice Minister says that he will not pressure the various committees to complete the procedures for legislating the Fundamental Laws during the Government's current tenure.

All religious ministers, which include Ministers of the Interior, Religious Affairs, Transportation, Education, Labor and Welfare, strongly opposed the passing of the Basic Laws.

Throughout the discussions, Rabbi Porush said that those who are pushing for expansion of the Court's authority, would one day regret their actions. "I am not scorning the judges' ability, just like I never scorned the abilities of Ben Gurion and Sapir, who were among the founders of the state. Today, attempts are being made to institutionalize what at that time was achieved by the `tzetlach method.' I am certain that in the future, eyes will be opened and everyone will regret that the Court received paramount status and the ability to nullify Knesset legislation."

Rabbi Porush added: "The judges' behavior in their rulings mandates their being elected by the public at large, because only then will it be possible to determine whether they are acting in the name of the nation. Democracy is not the unlimited rule of the minority. If we have democracy, then it must be democracy in its fullest sense, as is the case in many Western countries," he concluded.

After a lengthy discussion, the Justice Minister's proposal to implement reforms in the structure of the judicial system was approved by the Knesset at a first reading. Ten ministers, among them the prime minister, supported the proposal. Four religious ministers, from Shas and the NRP, voted against it.

Justice Minister Tzachi Hanegbi announced that at next week's Knesset plenum he would present the law implementing the conclusions of the public committee headed by Justice Or.

After the Knesset's decision, Hanegbi said that the purpose of the structural changes anchored in the proposal of the law is to reduce by half the duration of legal procedures as well as to complete the implementation of the reforms by the year 2001. According to Hanegbi, "The Government's decision is good news for the millions of citizens who bang on the doors of the judicial system in the hope of meriting justice at a reasonable speed."

The Or Committee's main goal is to transform the Magistrate's Court into a central court within the judicial system and to grant it authority to handle the majority of civil and criminal cases. According to committee recommendations, the regional courts will become forums whose main function will be to hear appeals on magistrate court rulings and will serve as the first courts for serious crimes as well as a limited number of civil topics.


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