(MENAFN - Saudi Press Agency) WARSAW Poland Rabi'I 12 1437 December 23 2015 SPA -- Poland's parliament passed contested new legislation on Tuesday that regulates the Constitutional Tribunal something critics say will paralyze the court and make it unable to act as a check on the power of the country's new right-wing government according to AP.
The vote which took place late in the evening after a heated debate came as Poland is coming under increasing criticism internationally and at home for its attempts to neutralize the court. Large street protests supporting both sides have taken place in past weeks with opponents saying the move to take control of the nation's top legislative court is an attack on the country's democratic foundations.
Opposition lawmakers chanted "down with communism!" right before the vote on the new laws which passed with 235 to 181.
The ruling Law and Justice party which pushed for the changes says it wants to reform a court that is still controlled by "cronies" of the past government claiming its victory in October elections is a mandate by voters to make deep changes to the country.
After eight years of rule by a pro-market and pro-European Union party the changes involve greater state spending on the economically disadvantaged and pushing for other changes consistent with Law and Justice's Catholic nationalistic and anti-migrant agenda.
Andrzej Zoll a former head of the tribunal denounced the legislation ahead of the vote saying it "will lead to the end of the functioning" of "one of the most important organs of the state."
One provision requires that cases must be adjudicated by a panel of at least 13 of the court's 15 judges. That is a change from the current practice which allows a much smaller number of judges to rule on each case. Civil rights groups say that will allow the court to take up far fewer cases slowing down its work considerably.
Another provision will require a two-thirds majority for rulings to be valid rather than the current simple majority. Critics say that it will be almost impossible to reach a two-thirds majority on most issues which will make it extremely difficult for the court to reach valid rulings on controversial issues.
01:06 LOCAL TIME 22:06 GMT