ST. PETERSBURG, September 20 - RAPSI. The Constitutional Court started on Tuesday to consider the possibility for investigative authorities to initiate criminal cases against judges who have issued unlawful rulings, unless such ruling is reversed, RIA Novosti reports.

The hearing was provoked by an appeal filed by Sergey Panchenko, a retired military judge of the Rostov-on-Don Garrison Court. In May 2010, the supreme qualification board approved opening a criminal case against him for knowingly passing an unlawful judgment.

Panchenko appealed the judgment, but the court held against the appeal.

Investigators argue that Panchenko knowingly made an unlawful decision in a lawsuit filed by military pensioners to recover pension arrears that resulted in the excessive payment of over 5 million rubles ($179,000) to pensioners.

The court heard the case in August 2004 and the decision entered into force. No appeal was made.

Panchenko believes that opening a case against judge means interference with the judicial practice by investigative authorities and the prosecutor's office.

The Constitutional Court is to issue its ruling on this matter soon.