The decision by Puerto Rico's Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a law approved by the legislature at the urging of Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla to limit the powers of the high court has sparked a clash among the branches of government.

Senate president Eduardo Bhatia on Wednesday criticized the move to declare unconstitutional Law 18, which removed from the Supreme Court the authority granted by the previous administration to directly take charge of any case from a lower court.

Most of the six justices who voted to overturn Law 18 have political ties to the administration of former Gov. Luis Fortuño and his PNP party.

"They (the court majority) are doing whatever they want to do," Bhatia told WKAQ radio.

Gov. Garcia Padilla said that Law 18 tries to protect the principles contained in Puerto Rico's constitution regarding separation of powers.

He said that very soon he will present another bill to determine by law what the circumstances are under which the Supreme Court will be able to handle a case under its jurisdiction.

The high court ruling shows that the true aim of Law 18, "openly expressed by its author and proven by the accelerated and ramrod handling of it (to ensure its) approval," was to shackle the high court and prevent the review of cases against the government.

The controversy arose when hundreds of public employees challenged in a San Juan court the constitutionality of a law that modified their pensions, a measure pushed by Garcia Padilla's administration.

The public employees asked that the case be urgently brought before the Supreme Court given the imminent entry into force of the pension measure, a move that led the high court to discuss the constitutionality of Law 18 which impeded that. EFE