05 May 2015 г.

By Decision no. 2321 (in Bulgarian) as of 6 April 2015, the Administrative Court Sofia - City (ACSC) repealed the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Chief Secretary’s refusal to provide to Georgi Milkov (director of the NGO Center – Razgrad) a copy of the crisis PR plan of the institution, adopted in 2013 by the Public Communications committee.


The Chief Secretary’s refusal was based on the claim that the requested plan is not an official document, is only of recommendatory nature in case of hypothetical situations and has no significance in itself, i.e. it is a preparatory document covered by an exemption under Article 13, par. 2, item 1 of the APIA.


The court held that Article 13 could be invoked since it has two cumulative requirements:

1) the information should be related with the preparation of official documents of the body;

2) the information should has no significance in itself (opinions and recommendations prepared by or for the body, reports and consultations).


In this case these requirements are not satisfied, since the plan is not a preparation for another final official document of the institution. As the refusal claims the “recommendations”, given in the plan, are not for the adoption of a final official document by the collegial body – the SJC – but about the behavior of its members in certain situations. These “recommendations” are drafted by the body for the body, consequently they have significance in themselves as an internal document regulating the behavior of the collegial body’s members. The court held as unfounded the Chief Secretary’s arguments claiming that the judiciary’s independence would be violated if the crisis PR plan is disclosed. The justices noted that the judiciary’s independence is guaranteed by the implementation of the principles and mechanisms of the separation of powers established in the Constitution and further specified by the Judiciary Act. The disclosure of SJC’s internal rules on its members’ behavior in a potential or a real communication threat cannot (and should not) put the judiciary in a state of dependence on the legislative or executive power.