High-powered lawyer Polys Polyviou, as attorney of the House of Representatives, has filed an objection to the supreme court where he claims a bill on school celebrations, which the president refused to sign, is lawful and constitutional.
In late April president Nicos Anastasiades referred to the supreme court a bill – sponsored by his own party Disy – transferring the power to set school celebrations from parliament to the government on the grounds that it clashed with the constitution.
The referral of the bill was made on behalf of the state by attorney-general Costas Clerides. It is understood that the AG was asked to do so by the president.
The executive argues that the constitutionally imposed separation of powers may be compromised by a clause in the bill stipulating that the education ministry would be tasked with decision-making over in-class commemorations “following consultation with” the House education committee.
The contentious excerpt relates to “consultation with” parliament, which the state will argue violates the separation of powers as it grants the House a say in decisions which are the purview of the government/executive.
The first hearing for the president’s referral before the supreme court has been set for May 25.
In the meantime, Polyviou has filed an objection to the president’s referral, arguing that the bill is not in breach of the constitution.
The Disy bill, which passed thanks to Akel’s support, was designed to overturn a previous House decision introducing a brief in-class commemoration in public schools of the 1950 Enosis (union with Greece) referendum.
The initial Enosis commemoration legislative amendment – tabled by far-right Elam deputies – sparked outrage in the Turkish Cypriot community, with leader Mustafa Akinci going as far as withdrawing from the ongoing Cyprus peace talks until “the mistake is corrected”.
With regard to legislative proposals approved by parliament, the constitution allows the president the option of signing, vetoing, or referring them to the supreme court within 15 days of the House vote.