Kılıç refused to attend the Victory Day celebrations after he was informed that he would be given a seat in one of the back rows, though he normally occupies one of the highest places on the protocol list. Kılıç's seat was assigned to Supreme Court of Appeals President Hasan Gerçeker. The top court president said protocol was often violated in official ceremonies and that representatives from the Constitutional Court, Turkey's highest judicial body, were not offered the seats they are supposed to occupy.
"I didn't participate in the Victory Day celebrations as the order of protocol among the legislative, judicial and executive bodies was ignored. The president, parliament speaker, prime minister and the chief of general staff were assigned their proper seats. However, I was allocated a seat in the rear. I thought the role of the judiciary in the country was neglected. It is not an issue that is directly related to me. It is something related to the institution I represent," he said.
Kılıç's reaction to the violation of protocol rules has brought with it a question on whether the judiciary is given less importance than politics and military as this was not the first time the president of the Constitutional Court was offered a seat that was not in compliance with the protocol list.
Kılıç was assigned a seat next to retired statesmen at a military ceremony on Aug. 28 in which former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt handed over his post to Gen. İlker Başbuğ, though he was supposed to take the seventh place in the protocol list. Kılıç did not conceal his frustration and said he felt the role of the judiciary and the Constitutional Court was undervalued.
"I was given a phone call from the General Staff and was offered apologies. They said they would fix the protocol mistake. I will send notices to all institutions in Ankara in the name of the Constitutional Court and request that no similar mistakes are ma<de," he later said.
The Constitutional Court president is seventh on the protocol list. He is preceded by the president, parliament speaker, prime minister, chief of general staff, leader of the main opposition party and former presidents. However, the protocol list is subject to frequent violations.
Many democratic nations, on the other hand, regard highly top judges who lead the country's prominent courts and place them on one of the highest places in the protocol list. In contrast to Turkey, the chief of general staff is in the lower echelon of the list in the order of dignitaries in many European countries and the United States.
In the US, the chief justice places fourth, right after the speaker of the House of Representatives. The place of the joint chiefs of staff, on the other hand, occupies the 48th place in the protocol -- even after force commanders, who occupy the 42nd place. Retired justices, cabinet ministers, members of Congress, former presidents, their wives and many other dignitaries come before generals in the order of the US list.
Many European countries show a similar, yet slightly different, order. In Italy, the president of the Constitutional Court sits in fifth place, right after the prime minister. The chief of defense staff sits in 25th place in the protocol list. In France, the chief of staff of the armies is 17th while the president of the Constitutional Council is placed eighth. In Germany, the president of the Federal Constitutional Court occupies fifth place, right after the president of the federal council, bundesratspräsident. In Spain, excluding the royal family, the chairperson of the Constitutional Court comes fourth in the order, preceded by the president of the senate. The chief of defense forces is 33rd.
In Australia, the chief of defense forces is assigned seat number 23 while the chief justice of Australia is given sixth place. In Israel, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces occupies seventh place, right after the chief rabbis. Justices of the Supreme Court of Israel are given fifth place. In India, top judges are honored at 10th place in the order while the chief of staff is given a place in row 15.