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Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria

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Chapter six - Judicial power

Article 117

  1. The judicial branch of government shall safeguard the rights and legitimate interests of all citizens, legal entities and the state.
  2. The judicial branch shall be independent. In the performance of their functions, all judges, court assessors, prosecutors and investigating magistrates shall be subservient only to the law.
  3. The judicial branch of government shall have an independent budget.

Article 118

All judicial power shall be exercised in the name of the people.

Article 119

  1. Justice shall be administered by the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Supreme Administrative Court, courts of appeals, courts of assizes, courts-martial and district courts.
  2. Specialised courts may be set up by virtue of a law.
  3. There shall be no extraordinary courts.

Article 120

  1. The courts shall supervise the legality of the acts and actions of the administrative bodies.
  2. Citizens and legal entities shall be free to contest any administrative act which affects them, except those listed expressly by the laws.

Article 121

  1. The courts shall ensure the equality and mutual challenge ability of the parties to a judicial trial.
  2. Judicial proceedings shall ensure the establishment of truth.
  3. All courts shall conduct their hearings in public, unless provided otherwise by a law.
  4. All court rulings shall be motivated.

Article 122

  1. Citizens and legal entities shall have the right to legal counsel at all stages of a trial.
  2. The procedure by which the right to legal counsel shall be practiced shall be established by a law.

Article 123

Court assessors shall participate in the trial process in certain cases established by a law.

Article 124

The Supreme Court of Cassation shall exercise supreme judicial oversight as to the precise and equal application of the law by all courts.

Article 125

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court shall exercise supreme judicial oversight as to the precise and equal application of the law in administrative justice.
  2. The Supreme Administrative Court shall rule on all challenges to the legality of acts of the Council of Ministers and the individual ministers, and of other acts established by a law.

Article 126

  1. The structure of the prosecutors' office shall correspond to that of the courts.
  2. The Chief Prosecutor shall oversee the legality and provide methodological guidance to all other prosecutors.

Article 127

The Prosecutor's Office shall ensure that legality is observed:

  1. by leading the investigation and supervising the legality thereof;
  2. may conduct investigation;
  3. by bringing charges against criminal suspects and supporting the charges in common criminal trials;
  4. by overseeing the enforcement of penalties and other measures of compulsion;
  5. by acting for the rescindment of all illegitimate acts;
  6. by taking part in civil and administrative suits whenever required to do so by law.

Article 128

The investigating magistracy shall be within the system of the judiciary. The investigating magistracy shall be within the system of the judiciary. The investigating authorities shall be within the system of the judiciary. They [the investigating authorities] shall conduct investigation in criminal cases where so provided for in law.

Article 129

(1) (Supplemented, SG No. 100/2015) Judges, prosecutors, and investigating magistrates shall be appointed, promoted, demoted, transferred and released from office by the Judges Chamber or, respectively, by the Prosecutors Chamber [of the Supreme Judicial Council].

(2) (Supplemented, SG No. 100/2015) The President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, and the Prosecutor General shall be appointed and released by the President of the Republic on a motion by the Plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council for a single term of seven years. The President may not refuse to decree any such appointment or release upon a second motion.

(3) (Amended, SG No. 85/2003, supplemented, SG No. 100/2015) After completing a fifth year in the office as a judge, prosecutor or investigating magistrate and after appraisal, judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates shall acquire a tenure status by a decision of the Judges Chamber or, respectively, of the Prosecutors Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council. They, including the persons covered under Paragraph (2), may be released from office solely upon:

  1. attainment of the age of 65 years;
  2. tendering resignation;
  3. entry into effect of a sentence imposing a penal sanction of deprivation of liberty for an intentional offence;
  4. sustained actual inability to discharge the duties thereof for a period exceeding one year;
  5. grave breach or systematic dereliction of the official duties, as well as actions damaging the prestige of the judiciary.

(4) (New, SG No. 27/2006, declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bulgaria - SG No. 78/2006) In the cases referred to in Item 5 of Paragraph (3), the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Cassation, the Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Prosecutor General shall furthermore be released by the President of the Republic on a motion by one-fourth of the Members of the National Assembly, passed by a majority of two-thirds of the Members of the National Assembly. The President shall not refuse to decree any such release upon a second motion.

(5) (New, SG No. 85/2003, renumbered from Paragraph (4), SG No. 27/2006) Once acquired, a tenure status shall be restored upon resumption of the office of judge, prosecutor or investigating magistrate in the cases of release under Items 2 and 4 of Paragraph (3).

(6) (New, SG No. 85/2003, effective 1.01.2004, renumbered from Paragraph (5), SG No. 27/2006) The administrative heads in the judicial authorities, with the exception of such covered under Paragraph (2), shall be appointed to the managerial position for a term of five years and shall be reappointable.

Article 130

(1) The Supreme Judicial Council shall consist of 25 members. The President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, and the Prosecutor General shall be ex officio members of the said Council.

(2) Eligibility for non-ex-officio membership of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be limited to jurists of high professional standing and moral integrity who have practised law for at least 15 years.

(3) (Supplemented, SG No. 100/2015) Eleven of the members of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be elected by the National Assembly by a majority of twothirds of the National Representatives, and eleven shall be elected by the judicial authorities. The members of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be elected under the terms established by Article 130a (3) and (4) herein and according to a procedure established by statute.

(4) The elective members of the Supreme Judicial Council shall serve terms of five years. They may not be re-elected immediately upon expiration of the said term.

(5) (Repealed, SG No. 100/2015).

(6) (New, SG No. 12/2007, repealed, SG No. 100/2015).

(7) (New, SG No. 12/2007, repealed, SG No. 100/2015).

(8) (New, SG No. 12/2007) The term of office of an elective member of the Supreme Judicial Council shall terminate upon:

  1. resignation;
  2. an enforceable judicial act on a criminal offence committed by the said member;
  3. sustained actual inability to discharge the duties thereof during a period exceeding one year;
  4. release from office by reason of breach of discipline or disqualification from practising a legal profession or activity.

(9) (New, SG No. 12/2007) Upon termination of the term of office of an elective member of the Supreme Judicial Council, a replacement shall be elected from the relevant quota to serve for the remainder of the term of office [of the member whose term of office is terminated].

Article 130a

(New, SG No. 100/2015) (1) The Supreme Judicial Council shall implement the powers thereof through a Plenum, a Judges Chamber and a Prosecutors Chamber.

(2) The Plenum shall consist of all members of the Supreme Judicial Council. The Plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council shall perform the following functions: 1. adopt the draft judiciary budget; 2. adopt a decision on termination of the credentials of an elective member of the Supreme Judicial Council under the terms established by Article 130 (8) herein; 3. arrange the continuing education of judges, prosecutors, and investigating magistrates; 4. addresses organizational matters common to the judiciary; 5. hear and adopt the annual reports referred to in Item 16 of Article 84 herein; 6. administrate the corporeal immovables of the judiciary; 7. make motions to the President of the Republic for the appointment and release of the President of the Supreme Court of Cassation, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Prosecutor General; 8. implement other powers as well, determined by statute.

(3) The Judges Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council shall consist of 14 members and shall comprise the presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and of the Supreme Administrative Court, six members elected directly by the judges, and six members elected by the National Assembly.

(4) The Prosecutors Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council shall consist of 11 members and shall comprise the Prosecutor General, four members elected directly by the prosecutors, one member elected directly by the investigating magistrates, and five members elected by the National Assembly.

(5) The chambers, each acting within its professional domain, shall perform the following functions:

  1. appoint, promote, transfer and release from office the judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates;
  2. periodically appraise the judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and the administrative heads in the judicial authorities and address matters concerning the acquisition and restoration of a tenure status;
  3. impose the disciplinary sanctions of demotion and release from office on the judges, prosecutors, investigating magistrates and administrative heads in the judicial authorities;
  4. appoint and release the administrative heads in the judicial authorities;
  5. address matters concerning the organization of the operation of the respective system of judicial authorities;
  6. implement other powers as well, determined by statute.

Article 130b

(1) The meetings of the Plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be presided over by the Minister of Justice. The said Minister shall attend in a non-voting capacity.

(2) The Judges Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be chaired by the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Cassation. The Prosecutors Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council shall be chaired by the Prosecutor General. The Minister of Justice may attend the meetings in a non-voting capacity.

(3) The Inspector General may attend the meetings of the Plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council and the meetings of the Judges Chamber and the Prosecutors Chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council in a non-voting capacity.

Article 130c

The Minister of Justice:

  1. (amended, SG No. 100/2015) shall propose a draft judiciary budget and shall lay the said draft before the Supreme Judicial Council;
  2. (repealed, SG No. 100/2015);
  3. may propose the appointment, promotion, demotion, transfer and release from office of judges, prosecu-tors and investigating magistrates;
  4. shall participate in the arrangements for the continuing education of judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates;
  5. (repealed, SG No. 12/2007).

Article 131

(Amended, SG No. 85/2003, SG No. 12/2007, repealed, SG No. 100/2015).

Article 132

  1. Upon exercise of judicial power, judges, prosecutors and investigating officers shall not incur criminal and civil liability for the official actions thereof and for the acts decreed thereby, save where what is done shall constitute an intentional publicly prosecutable offence. 2,3 and 4 - repealed

Article 132a

(New, SG No. 12/2007) (1) There shall be established an Inspectorate with the Supreme Judicial Council, which shall consist of an Inspector General and ten inspectors.

(2) The Inspector General shall be elected by the National Assembly by a majority of two-thirds of the National Representatives for a term of five years.

(3) The inspectors shall be elected by the National Assembly for a term of four years according to the procedure established by Paragraph (2).

(4) The Inspector General and the inspectors may be re-elected, but not for two sequential terms of of-fice.

(5) The budget of the Inspectorate shall be adopted by the National Assembly within the judiciary budget.

(6) (Supplemented, SG No. 100/2015) The Inspectorate shall examine the operation of the judicial authorities without affecting the independence of judges, jurors, prosecutors and investigating magistrates in the performance of the functions thereof. The Inspectorate shall conduct checks for integrity and conflict of interest of judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates, of the financial interest disclosure declarations thereof, as well as for ascertaining any actions damaging the prestige of the judiciary and such violating the independence of judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates. The Inspector General and the inspectors shall be independent in the performance of the functions thereof and shall be subservient only to the law.

(7) The Inspectorate shall act on its own initiative, on the initiative of citizens, legal persons or state bodies, including judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates.

(8) The Inspectorate shall present an annual report on the operation thereof to the Supreme Judicial Council.

(9) The Inspectorate shall approach other state bodies, including the competent judicial authorities, with alerts, proposals and reports. The Inspectorate shall make public information on the operation thereof.

(10) The terms and procedure for the election and release of the Inspector General and of the inspectors, as well as the organization and operation of the Inspectorate, shall be regulated by statute.

Article 133

The organisation and the activity of the Supreme Judicial Council, of the courts, the prosecution and the investigation, the status of the justices, prosecutors and investigating magistrates, the conditions and the procedure for the appointment and dismissal of justices, court assessors, prosecutors and investigating magistrates and the materialisation of their liability shall be established by a law.

Article 134

  1. The bar shall be free, independent and autonomous. It shall assist citizens and legal entities in the defence of their rights and legitimate interests.
  2. The organisation and manner of activity of the bar shall be established by a law

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