The supreme court has set September 25 as the date for the lawyers’ submissions in the case of the president’s referral to the court of a law passed by parliament on school celebrations.
At the opening hearing on Thursday, attorney-general Costas Clerides, representing the state, said he came prepared and would be ready to argue his case within a matter of days.
For his part, Polys Polyviou, the lawyer representing parliament, said he needed at least two weeks to prepare.
The court went into brief recess and, having reviewed its heavy schedule, decided it could not hear the case any time before the summer holidays.
As such it set the next date for September 25.
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. This was on the grounds that the bill it clashed with the constitution.
The referral was made on behalf of the state by the attorney-general. 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 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.
In the meantime, the House 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.