Turkish government officials skipped a key meeting of senior judges on Thursday days before the ruling AK party was due to present constitutional changes to parliament.
The government plans to table reforms to overhaul the judiciary as early as Monday, when President Abdullah Gul is also expected to consult legal experts.
Some of the main measures will change the way judges are appointed, make it harder to ban political parties, and make members of the armed forces accountable to civilian courts.
The measures are unlikely to be voted on until late April, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has warned that he will call a referendum if the government fails to get the two-thirds majority needed in parliament to amend the constitution.
On Thursday, the Judges and Prosecutors Supreme Board (HSYK) was forced to cancel a meeting for the second time this week because a Justice Ministry undersecretary failed to turn up.
The board, a target of government reform because of its responsibility for the appointment of judges and prosecutors, issued a statement saying it had been told that the official had gone to a funeral and no one was available to deputise.
The head of the HSYK had rebuked the undersecretary a day earlier for walking out of a meeting on Tuesday. The ministry official had objected to the judges' proposals to push through new appointments at a time when reforms were being considered.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc accused senior members of the judiciary of sounding like opposition politicians.
"Unfortunately, this is how the judiciary stands in this country," he said, according to state-run Anatolian news agency.
The government argues the reforms adhere to democratic norms needed to support a bid for membership of the European Union. Hardline secularists say the independence of the judiciary would be reduced.
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 26 Mart 2010, 08:36