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Monday, December 6, 2021

Constitutional Court. The hearing on the provisions on public information was postponed to December 15

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The Constitutional Tribunal postponed to December 15 the hearing on the motion of the first President of the Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, which refers to a number of provisions regulating access to public information. Originally, the Constitutional Tribunal was supposed to deal with this request on Wednesday.

However, it was announced on Tuesday on the website of the Constitutional Tribunal that the date of this hearing had been postponed to December 15 at 11.00.

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Judge Wojciech Sych presides over the five judges of the Constitutional Tribunal designated for this case, and the rapporteur is Judge Krystyna Pawłowicz. The composition also included judges: Stanisław Piotrowicz, Bartłomiej Sochański and Michał Warciński.

It is an extensive application for declaring some provisions on access to public information unconstitutional, which President Manowska submitted to the Constitutional Tribunal in mid-February 2021.

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Małgorzata ManowskaRadek Pietruszka / PAP

In six allegations, the First President of the Supreme Court challenges, inter alia, the provisions of the Act on Access to Public Information to the extent that they do not specifically define certain terms. According to Manowska, these provisions in an unauthorized way broaden the understanding of entities that are obliged to disclose public information.

Spokesman of the Supreme Court: very general concepts which have been given a very wide scope in the jurisprudence

Manowska questioned the constitutionality of the provisions that oblige the public to disclose information “about persons performing public functions, related to the performance of these functions” also with regard to information relating to the privacy of these persons and personal data. According to the 1st President of the Supreme Court, standards may lead to a breach of the privacy principle.

The request of the 1st President of the Supreme Court also concerns the provisions in so far as they do not specifically define the terms: “public authorities”, “other entities performing public tasks” and “persons discharging public functions”. According to Manowska, these provisions in an unauthorized way broaden the understanding of entities that are obliged to disclose public information.

Constitutional CourtShutterstock

The application also noted that the provisions obliging to disclose public information do not regulate the anonymization of personal data or other data from the privacy zone. It was indicated that the challenged provisions should be made more specific, ensuring the statutory protection of privacy for persons discharging public functions.

President Manowska also appealed against the provision of that act, which provided for a penalty of up to one year in prison for anyone who, contrary to his obligation, does not disclose public information. As she assessed, since the provisions on public information are not precise, it is not possible to establish a punishable offense.

The prosecutor general applied for recognition of some of the challenged provisions as unconstitutional

He requested that some of the challenged provisions be considered unconstitutional in his position to the Constitutional Tribunal at the end of July this year. Zbigniew Ziobro, the prosecutor general. “A significant extension of the scope of entities that are required to provide public information is contradicted by the principle of honesty and efficiency in the operation of public institutions, as expressed in the preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland” – noted in this statement signed by the deputy of GUT, attorney Robert Hernand.

Zbigniew ZiobroPAP / Rafał Guz

The Human Rights Defender also joined this case before the Constitutional Tribunal. “It cannot be concluded that the provisions of the Act are so grossly vague that they completely prevent a categorical determination whether a given information is public information. Entities that have been obliged to disclose it should be able to assess whether a given information constitutes public information. Situations in which such an assessment is not possible, it should be assessed as exceptional “- the former Ombudsman Adam Bodnar argued in his position. He requested that some of the provisions be found compliant with the Constitution, and for the remainder, the case should be discontinued.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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