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Law changes discussed by Parliamentary Committees

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, December 15
A joint meeting of Parliamentary Committees was held on December 12, at which the Committees on Legal Issues and Regional Policy, Local Government and Mountainous Regions discussed new legislative proposals.

A proposed bill on Local Government will alter the regulations for electing local councillors and establish the direct election of the Tbilisi Mayor. It will also redefine the powers of a Chairman of a local assembly and a Governor. A Governor's post will no longer be so political, as the Chairman of a local council will retain the right to appoint a Governor after competitive cross-examination but not be allowed to discharge them, this right being given to the local council as a whole. A Governor will be responsible for preparing the local budget but it will be presented by the Chair of the local council.

The basic amendment proposed to the law governing Tbilisi is that the city's Mayor should be elected by direct suffrage. The Mayor's relation to the local authority will alter in consequence. The Tbilisi Municipality will no longer have the right to declare it has no confidence in the Mayor and dismiss him. A First Vice-Mayor will also be appointed by the Mayor from among the members of the council. Christian Democrat MP Levan Vephkhvadze commented on this, saying that, "there should be 30 local councillors, 20 elected by a proportional system and 10 by first-past-the-post. The First Vice-Mayor should be appointed by the council and not the Mayor.” Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee Pavle Kublashvili responded that some of these suggestions might be taken into account but he would not support enlarging the number of councillors artificially.

The Christian Democrats and the Majority did not achieve agreement on directly electing the Mayors of major cities. Vice–Speaker Mikheil Machavariani said that this new method of election will apply only to Tbilisi. "We should think of what will be better for our municipalities. A Mayor elected by the council has always had broader rights and can fulfill his duties properly. Other major cities Mayors are therefore to be elected by the council members and not by direct voting,” Machavariani said.

Another amendment discussed concerned the penalties to be imposed for injuring people. It is proposed that less serious willful injuries should be punished with a fine or community service for one year instead of two. In a further amendment an accused will be given the right to appeal against his sentence if it was given without his/her presence for a month after the verdict. At present an accused has the right to appeal against a sentence only during the month after being arrested.

The Committee also discussed, at a second reading, amendments to the law on Enforcement Proceedings. In these, the sequestration of the property of a mortgage defaulter will be undertaken by an enforcement agent on the basis of a court decision and enforcement document. At present the tax authorities have the right to sequester such properties. The enforcement of a sequestration can only be undertaken at particular times under the amendments and the necessary requisites for beginning enforcement proceedings would have to be demonstrated.

A second reading was also given to the bill on changes to the law on the Disciplinary Responsibility of Judges of General Courts and Disciplinary Legal Proceedings. The amendments state that only a member of the Disciplinary College can be elected its Chairman. This is not specified one way or the other in the present law. They also state that the Chairman of the Court of Appeal can be chosen as a Disciplinary College member.