TITLE VII THE JUDICIAL POWER AND THE PUBLIC MINISTRY
CHAPTER I General Provisions
The Judicial Power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice and by such other courts as the organic law determines .
In carrying out their functions judges are autonomous and independent of the other organs of the Public Power.
Jurisdiction in matters of administrative law is vested in the Supreme Court of Justice and in such other Courts as the law determines.
The organs of the administrative-law jurisdiction are competent to annul general or individual administrative acts that are contrary to law, including misuse of power; to issue judgments requiring the payment of sums of money and the redress of damages originating in administrative liability; and to order whatever is necessary for the reinstatement of subjective juridical situations injured by administrative activity.
The law shall provide whatever conduces to the establishment of a judicial career and to ensuring the fitness, stability, and independence of judges, and shall establish rules relating to the competence, organization, and functioning of the Courts insofar as this is not provided for in this Constitution.
Judges may not be removed or suspended from office except in such cases and according to such procedure as the law determines .
All other authorities of the Republic shall offer judges the collaboration they may require for the proper performance of their functions.
The law shall determine matters relating to inspection of the functioning of the Courts, the means for attending to their functional and administrative needs, and the organization of auxiliary judicial services, all without impairing the autonomy and independence of judges.
CHAPTER II The Supreme Court of Justice
The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest Tribunal of the Republic. No recourse of any kind will be heard or admitted against its decisions.
The Supreme Court of Justice shall function in Divisions, the composition and competence of which shall be determined by law. Each Division shall have at least five Magistrates.
To be a Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice a person must be a Venezuelan by birth, a lawyer, and over thirty years of age.
In addition to these qualifications, the organic law may require practice of the legal profession, a judgeship, or university teaching of legal subjects for a specified time.
Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice shall be elected by the Chambers in joint session for terms of nine years, but they shall be renewed by thirds every three years. Alternates shall be appointed in the same manner to fill absolute vacancies among the Magistrates; temporary or occasional vacancies shall be filled in the manner determined by law.
The powers of the Supreme Court of Justice are:
- To declare whether or not there are grounds for the trial of the President of the Republic or persons acting in his stead, and, if there are, to continue trying the case, with the authorization of the Senate, until final sentence is issued;
- To declare whether or not there are grounds for the trial of members of Congress or of the Court itself, of the Ministers, the Prosecutor General, the Attorney General, or the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Governors, or the chief of diplomatic missions of the Republic, and, if there are, to transmit the case to the competent regular Court, if a common offense, or continue trying the case until final sentence if a political offense, except as provided in Article 144 with respect to members of Congress.
- To declare the total or partial nullity of national laws and other acts of the legislative bodies that conflict with this Constitution;
- To declare the total or partial nullity of state laws, municipal ordinances, and other acts of the deliberative bodies of the States and Municipalities that conflict with this Constitution;
- To settle any conflicts that may exist between different legal provisions and declare which of them is to prevail;
- To declare the nullity of regulations and other acts of the National Executive when they violate this Constitution;
- To declare the nullity of administrative acts of the National Executive whenever this is appropriate;
- To settle controversies in which one of the parties is the Republic or a State or Municipality, when the other party is also one of these entities, except for controversies between Municipalities in the same State, in which case the law may provide that the case be heard by another Court;
- To decide conflicts of competence between Courts, either regular or special, when there is no other higher court common to them;
- To hear cases in cessation;
- Any others conferred on it by law.
The powers enumerated in sections 1 to 6 of the preceding article shall be exercised by the full Court. Decisions shall be rendered by an absolute majority of all Magistrates.
The organic law may grant the powers enumerated in sections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 to a Federal Division presided over by the President of the Court and composed of Magistrates who have competence in administrative-law matters, in number not less than two representatives of each of the other Divisions.
CHAPTER III The Council on the Judiciary
The pertinent organic law shall create a Council on the Judiciary, the organization and powers of which it shall fix for the purpose of ensuring the independence, efficiency, discipline, and decorum of the Courts and of guaranteeing the benefits of a judicial career to judges. Adequate representation on it must be given to the other branches of the Public Power.
CHAPTER IV The Public Ministry
The Public Ministry shall oversee the strict observance of the Constitution and the laws, and shall be in charge and under the direction and responsibility of the Prosecutor General of the Republic, with the help of such officials as the organic law determines.
The Prosecutor General of the Republic must have the same qualifications as those of Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, and shall be elected by the Chambers in joint session within the first thirty days of each constitutional term. In the event of an absolute vacancy in the post of Prosecutor General, a new election shall be held for the remainder of the constitutional term. Temporary and occasional absences of the Prosecutor General of the Republic, and the interim vacancy before an absolute vacancy is filled, shall be filled in the manner determined by law.
The powers of the Public Ministry are
- To see to it that constitutional rights and guarantees are respected.
- To see to it that the administration of justice is swift and smooth and that the courts of the Republic apply the laws fairly in criminal trials and those that concern the public order and good morals ;
- To bring criminal actions in cases in which a petition by a party is not necessary to initiate and prosecute them, without prejudice to the right of courts to act directly when the law so provides;
- To see to the correct enforcement of the laws and the guarantee of human rights in jails and other prison establishments;
- To initiate such actions as may be appropriate to enforce civil, criminal, administrative, or disciplinary liability incurred by public officials in carrying out their functions; and
- Any others conferred on it by law.
The powers given to the Public Ministry shall not impair the exercise of the rights and actions pertaining to private individuals or to other officials in accordance with this Constitution and the laws.
The authorities of the Republic shall give to the Public Ministry whatever collaboration it may require for the proper performance of its functions.Article 222
The Prosecutor General of the Republic shall present a report of his activities to Congress annually, within the first thirty days of its regular sessions.