Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Constitutional Court challenge against Health Act amendments filed

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court said on March 14 that it has formally opened a case after President Roumen Radev tabled a challenge to the Health Act amendments passed by Parliament earlier this week.

Radev’s motives, published on the presidency’s website earlier in the day, said that he was challenging the several provisions about the epidemic state of emergency, arguing that they were unconstitutional.

“I believe that these changes to the Health Act move [the law] from constitutional standards that allow the restriction of basic freedoms and do not take into account the role that the legislative branch has in this process,” Radev said.

The changes to the Health Act seek to differentiate between the epidemic state of emergency and a state of emergency under the Disasters Act. Unlike the latter, the law does not set a legal limit for its duration, which does not meet existing constitutional requirements, Radev said.

Furthermore, by giving the Cabinet the power to declare an epidemic state of emergency, the National Assembly “abdicated from its constitutional duty under article 57, paragraph 3 concerning restrictions on basic rights of citizens, delegating the powers granted to to it by constitution to the executive branch,” Radev said.

The required an analysis by the chief state health inspector prior to declaring an epidemic state of emergency, but at the same time listed a set of possible circumstances where such a declaration was mandatory. This created the risk that a assumption regarding the danger to public health was not balanced out by an analysis about whether the restrictions on basic rights were commensurate, which “creates an unjustifiably wide area to limit basic rights,” Radev said.

The Constitutional Court said it assigned judge Pavlina Panova as the rapporteur on the case. In the first stage of the case, the court will have to decide whether the case is admissible – a ruling that is likely to come in a month’s time, going by the court’s previous practice – before it begins deliberations on the subject matter of the challenge.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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