Human Rights Action (HRA) welcomes the verdict of the judge of the Basic Court in Nikšić, Sanja Nikić, which annulled the decision of the Parliament of Montenegro on the dismissal of director Nikola Vukčević from the RTCG Council as illegal. This is the second verdict by which Judge Nikić annuls the same decision of the Parliament, despite the opposing positions of the High Court in Podgorica and the Supreme Court.
At the end of 2017, Nikola Vukčević and Goran Đurović were dismissed from the RTCG Council by decisions of the Parliament, which were passed contrary to legal authorisations, based on the dominant political will of the ruling coalition to remove them as independent representatives of civil society. The Parliament also dismissed civil activists Vanja Ćalović and Darko Ivanović from membership in the Council of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, i.e. the Council of the Agency for Electronic Media, and all of them have been fighting for judicial protection against parliamentary decisions for three years.
Judge Nikić annulled the decision of the Parliament despite the controversial general stance of the Supreme Court of Montenegro from last year, which stated that that regular courts are not competent to review the legality of decisions of the Parliament, by which the Supreme Court changed its previous practice. Judge Nikić took into account that the Administrative Court is not competent for this type of dispute either, so she referred to the provision of the Law on Courts according to which the basic court has jurisdiction “whenever there is no other way of legal protection”. She considered that the court was obliged to “provide” the accuser with the right of access to a court and a legal remedy in accordance with international standards, the Constitution and the law. The judge emphasised that general legal stances are not a source of law and are not binding, and especially pointed out that the role of the judiciary is to control and limit the other two branches of government.
Judge Nikic’s decision to remain true to her own well-founded legal position in this matter and to provide legal protection is an example of the independence of a judge who can restore confidence in the judiciary. In the proceedings, for example, which Goran Đurović is conducting against the political decision of the Parliament by which he was dismissed, the judge deviated from his position and complied with the position of the Supreme Court. For Judge Nikić, such an approach would be much more pragmatic, because the High Court in Podgorica, which will decide on her decision, has already shown in the case of Vanja Ćalović that there is no understanding for not accepting the position of the Supreme Court. However, this verdict, which does not help in the career advancement, reminds of the defiant smile of the national hero Ljubo Cupic, who is remembered in better times.
Tea Gorjanc Prelević, executive director