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On the actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė

Case No. 3/2014

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 CONCLUSION

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE ACTIONS OF NERINGA VENCKIENĖ, A MEMBER OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, AGAINST WHOM AN IMPEACHMENT CASE HAS BEEN INSTITUTED, WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 3 June 2014, No. KT20-I1/2014
Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Eugenijus Gentvilas and Vytautas Saulis, members of the Seimas, and Vita Misiūnienė, an advisor of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas, acting as the representatives of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner

The advocate Eimantas Šriupša, acting as the representative of Neringa Venckienė, a member of the Seimas, the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 21 May 2014, at the Court’s public hearing, considered case No. 3/2014 subsequent to the inquiry, which is set forth in the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (No. XII-665) “On the Institution of Impeachment Against Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and an Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania” of 12 December 2013, whether the concrete actions of Neringa Venckienė, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, which are specified in the conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania for the Investigation into the Reasonableness of the Submitted Proposals to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and for Drawing up a Conclusion Regarding the Grounds for Instituting the Impeachment Proceedings, are in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

  1. On 12 December 2013, the Seimas, the petitioner, adopted the Resolution (No. XII-665) “On the Institution of Impeachment Against Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and an Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania” (hereinafter also referred to as Seimas resolution No. XII-665 of 12 December 2013), which came into force on 20 December 2013. By means of this resolution, the Seimas instituted impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė (Article 1) and applied to the Constitutional Court for a conclusion on whether the concrete actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, which are specified in the conclusion of the Seimas Special Investigation Commission for the Investigation into the Reasonableness of the Submitted Proposals to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė and for Drawing up a Conclusion Regarding the Grounds for Instituting the Impeachment Proceedings (hereinafter also referred to as the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė), are in conflict with the Constitution (Article 2).

The inquiry of the Seimas, the petitioner, was received at the Constitutional Court on 18 December 2013.

  1. On 12 December 2013, the Seimas adopted the Resolution (No. XII-665) “On the Assent to the Conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania for the Investigation into the Reasonableness of the Submitted Proposals to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and for Drawing up a Conclusion Regarding the Grounds for Instituting the Impeachment Proceedings” (hereinafter referred to as Seimas resolution No. XII-664 of 12 December 2013), which came into force on 20 December 2013. By means of Article 1 of that resolution, the Seimas assented to the Conclusion “On the Grounds for Instituting Impeachment Proceedings Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė” of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė (hereinafter referred to as the conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė), which is attached to the resolution, and, by means of Article 2 of the same resolution, it recognised that the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė had finished its work.
  2. The conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė establishes that:

“Pursuant to Article 74 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 3 of Article 236 of the Statute of the Seimas, the Commission

draws the conclusion:

The collected and assessed evidence as well as the established factual circumstances confirm the reasonableness of the charge against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė specified in the proposal of a group of members of the Seimas to institute impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, who failed to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, and the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013, thereby committing a possible breach of the oath of a member of the Seimas and a possible gross violation of the Constitution.

In the light of the foregoing, the Commission draws the conclusion that the charges presented in the proposal of the group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania to institute impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė are grounded and serious, therefore, there are grounds for instituting the impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė in the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.”

II

  1. In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, on 8 May 2014, written explanations were received from the advocate Eimantas Šriupša, acting as the representative of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, the party concerned.

The explanations of Eimantas Šriupša include the following arguments.

Seimas member Neringa Venckienė failed to attend the plenary sittings of the Seimas and the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, however, by proposing draft legal acts to the Seimas, she actively discharged other duties of a member of the Seimas. The circumstances which led to Neringa Venckienė’s failure to attend the sittings of the Seimas and the aforementioned committee, or whether she did this knowingly and dishonestly, and for what purposes, are not known precisely. According to the representative of the party concerned, the case includes certain data that the health and life of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė were endangered (Seimas member Povilas Gylys spoke about this at the sitting of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė), thus, the case contains insufficient data to state that Neringa Venckienė held the office of a member of the Seimas dishonestly or acted not in the interests of the Nation but in her personal interests, those of individual members or groups, that she acted for other purposes or in other interests that are incompatible with the Constitution, laws, and public interests, that she knowingly failed to discharge the duties established in the Constitution and laws, that, by her actions, the Seimas member discredited the state authority, and therefore, it is necessary to revoke her mandate of a member of the Seimas.

  1. Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, the party concerned, did not provide any explanations.

III

  1. Along with Seimas resolutions Nos. XII-664 and XII-665 of 12 December 2013, the Seimas submitted to the Constitutional Court the conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė, which had been assented to by the Seimas by means of resolution No. XII-664 of 12 December 2013, as well as documents concerning the preparation of the sittings of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė, documents of correspondence on the issues of the organisational activities of that Commission, and audio recordings of the sittings of the Commission (hereinafter referred to as the material of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė).
  2. In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the following was received: the 16 January 2014 Letter (No. S5-3378) “On the Submission of Documents” of a prosecutor of the Second Division of Criminal Prosecution of the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, accompanied by the copies of the documents (regarding possible criminal deeds committed by Neringa Venckienė and her search) of the material of pre-trial investigation No. 01-2-103-11; the 20 January 2014 Certificate (No. (29)2A-32) “On Personal Data” of the Residents’ Register Service under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania; the 13 February 2014 Letter (No. S-2014-1284) “On Explanations and the Submission of Material” of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas, accompanied by the copies of the minutes (confirmed by registration sheets) of the sittings of the Seimas that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė had missed, as well as the copies of the annexes to the minutes of the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs submitted by the said committee; the 21 February 2014 Letter (No. S-2014-1501) “On Additional Explanations” of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas; the 12 March 2014 Letter (No. (1.46)-E5-4149) “On the Production of Evidence in Constitutional Justice Case No. 3/2014” of the Kaunas Regional Court, accompanied by samples of Neringa Venckienė’s handwriting and signatures; the 17 March 2014 Letter (No. S-2014-2246) “On the Production of Evidence in Constitutional Justice Case No. 3/2014” of the Office of the Seimas, accompanied by draft legal acts proposed by Seimas member Neringa Venckienė to the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings; the 8 April 2014 Letter (No. SE-865) “On the Dispatch of the Examination Act” of the Forensic Science Centre of Lithuania, accompanied by the 8 April 2014 Examination Act (No. 11-934 (14)); the 9 April 2014 letter (No. (4.30-2) R2-169/388) of the Kaunas Local Court, accompanied by civil case No. 2-5840-713/2014 on the dissolution of marriage; the 17 April 2014 Letter (No. SE-973) “On the Submission of the Examination Act” of the Forensic Science Centre of Lithuania, accompanied by the 17 April 2014 Examination Act (No. 11-937 (14)); the 2 May 2014 Letter (No. S5-26062) “On the Submission of Information” of a prosecutor of the Second Division of Criminal Prosecution of the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, accompanied by additional copies of the documents (regarding possible criminal deeds committed by Neringa Venckienė and her search) of the material of pre-trial investigation No. 01-2-103-11; the 8 May 2014 Letter (No. 152-S-25) “On the Request to Inform Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” of Aurelija Stancikienė, Deputy Chair of the Seimas political group “The Way of Courage”.

IV

  1. At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, Eugenijus Gentvilas and Vytautas Saulis, members of the Seimas, and Vita Misiūnienė, an advisor of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas, acting as the representatives of the Seimas, the petitioner, based their explanations on the conclusions of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė and supported the charges formulated therein. Eugenijus Gentvilas and Vytautas Saulis, members of the Seimas, provided additional explanations and answered the questions asked.
  2. Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, the party concerned, failed to appear at the Constitutional Court’s hearing.

At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the advocate Eimantas Šriupša, acting as the representative of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, the party concerned, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in the written explanations to the Constitutional Court on 28 April 2014, as well as provided additional explanations and answered the questions asked.

  1. At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the following witnesses were questioned: Seimas members—Povilas Gylys, Jonas Varkala, and Valdas Vasiliauskas. They, among other things, explained the circumstances of drawing up and registering draft laws and draft Seimas resolutions, the explanatory notes of which indicate that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė is also their initiator.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

  1. On 14 November 2012, the Seimas adopted the Resolution (No. XI-2420) “On the Establishment of the Final Results of the 14 October 2012 Election to the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania in the Multi-Member Constituency”, which, under Article 4 thereof, came into force from the moment of its adoption. By means of Article 3 of the said resolution, the final results of the 14 October 2014 election to the Seimas in the multi-member constituency were established and the final list of the members of the Seimas elected in the multi-member constituency, which included Neringa Venckienė, was approved.

At the sitting of the Seimas of 16 November 2012, Neringa Venckienė, an elected Seimas member, swore to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania and acquired all the rights of a representative of the Nation.

  1. On 7 November 2013, 41 members of the Seimas submitted the proposal “To Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė” to the Seimas.
  2. On 5 December 2013, the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė adopted the conclusion that the charges presented in the proposal of a group of members of the Seimas to institute impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė are reasonable and serious, therefore, there are grounds for instituting the impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė in the Seimas.
  3. It has been mentioned that, by means of Article 1 of Seimas resolution No. XII-664 of 12 December 2013, the Seimas assented to the conclusions of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė.
  4. It has also been mentioned that, by means of Article 1 of Seimas resolution No. XII-665 of 12 December 2013, it was resolved to institute impeachment proceedings against Seimas member Neringa Venckienė in the Seimas, and, by means of Article 2 thereof, to apply to the Constitutional Court for a conclusion on whether the concrete actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė that are specified in the conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė are in conflict with the Constitution.
  5. The content of Seimas resolution No. XII-665 of 12 December 2013 and of the conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė, in both of which the inquiry to the Constitutional Court is set forth, makes it clear that the Seimas requests a conclusion on whether the actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė—her failure to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, and the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013—are in conflict with the Constitution.

II

  1. The Constitution is the supreme law which limits state authority, it entrenches the principle of responsible governance (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004 and its conclusion of 27 October 2010). In a democratic state under the rule of law, all state institutions and all officials must follow the Constitution and law. The responsibility of the authorities to society is inseparable from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law; this responsibility is constitutionally entrenched by having established that state institutions serve the people and that the scope of power is limited by the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s conclusion of 31 March 2004, its ruling of 13 May 2010, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010).

State officials must enjoy the confidence of the citizens, i.e. the state community (the Constitutional Court's rulings of 25 May 2004 and 13 May 2010, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010). However, in order that the citizens—the state community—could reasonably trust state officials, that it would be possible to ascertain that all state institutions and all state officials follow the Constitution as well as law and obey them, while those who do not obey the Constitution and law would not hold the office for which the confidence of the citizens—the state community—is necessary, a public democratic control over the activity of state officials and their accountability to society is needed (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 25 May 2004, 1 July 2004, 13 December 2004, and 13 May 2010, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010).

  1. Under Article 74 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic, the President and justices of the Constitutional Court, the President and justices of the Supreme Court, the President and judges of the Court of Appeal as well as the members of the Seimas who have grossly violated the Constitution or breached their oath, or if it transpires that a crime has been committed, may by a 3/5 majority vote of all the members of the Seimas be removed from office or their mandate of a member of the Seimas may be revoked. This is performed according to the procedure for impeachment proceedings which is established by the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

Other articles of the Constitution are related to the institute of impeachment as well: Item 5 of Article 63, Paragraph 2 of Article 86, Item 5 of Article 88, Paragraph 1 of Article 89, Item 4 of Paragraph 3 of Article 105, Item 5 of Article 108, and Article 116. In the Lithuanian constitutional system, the institute of impeachment should also be linked to a striving for an open, just, and harmonious civil society and a state under the rule of law, which is proclaimed in the preamble to the Constitution, and to the constitutional principles of the protection of human rights and freedoms.

  1. The Constitutional Court has held that the constitutional institute of impeachment is one of the forms of public democratic control (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 May 2004 and its conclusion of 27 October 2010). Various aspects of the constitutional concept of impeachment have been disclosed in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, inter alia, in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 May 1999, its conclusion of 31 March 2004, its rulings of 15 April 2004 and 25 May 2004, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010:

– the application of the constitutional sanction—removal from office—of impeachment—a special institute of parliamentary procedure that is entrenched in the Constitution, inter alia, Article 74 thereof—is one of the measures of self-protection of the state community, i.e. the civil Nation; state officials who violate the Constitution and laws, who raise personal or group interests above the interests of society, or who, by their actions, discredit state authority, may be removed from office under the procedure established by law;

– the content of the constitutional sanction (constitutional liability) applied under the procedure for impeachment proceedings is composed both of removal of a person, who has grossly violated the Constitution and breached the oath, from office, and of the prohibition stemming therefrom for such a person to hold any office provided for in the Constitution, which can be taken only after the person takes the oath provided for in the Constitution.

  1. As mentioned before, for a gross violation of the Constitution, a breach of the oath or if it transpires that a crime has been committed, inter alia, the mandate of a member of the Seimas may be revoked under the procedure for impeachment proceedings.
  2. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 5 of the Constitution, state power in Lithuania is executed, inter alia, by the Seimas. The Constitutional Court has held the following on more than one occasion: the constitutional nature of the Seimas, as the representation of the Nation, determines its special place in the system of the institutions of the branches of state power, its functions, and its powers necessary to perform these functions; while implementing its constitutional powers, the Seimas performs the classical functions of the parliament of a democratic state under the rule of law: it passes laws (the legislative function), carries out the parliamentary control over executive and other state institutions (save courts) (the control function), establishes state institutions, appoints and dismisses their heads and other state officials (the founding function), approves the state budget and supervises its execution (the budgetary function), etc. (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 May 2004, 1 July 2004, and 4 April 2006, its decision of 15 January 2009, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010).
  3. Under Article 4 of the Constitution, “[t]he Nation shall execute its supreme sovereign power either directly or through its democratically elected representatives”. The Seimas consists of representatives of the Nation—141 members of the Seimas who are elected for a four-year term on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot (Paragraph 1 of Article 55 of the Constitution).
  4. Paragraph 2 of Article 59 of the Constitution prescribes that an elected member of the Seimas acquires all the rights of a representative of the Nation only after taking at the Seimas an oath to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania.

7.1. Article 5 of the Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Procedure for Entry into Force of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, which is a constituent part of the Constitution, prescribes:

“The following text of the oath for the member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania shall be established:

‘I, (full name),

swear to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania;

swear to respect and execute its Constitution and laws and to protect the integrity of its lands;

swear to strengthen, to the best of my ability, the independence of Lithuania, and to conscientiously serve my Homeland, democracy, and the welfare of the people of Lithuania.

So help me God.’

The oath may also be taken omitting the last sentence.”

7.2. The Constitution unconditionally requires that a member of the Seimas take an oath to be faithful only to the State of Lithuania, that they pledge to respect and execute its Constitution and laws (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 November 1998, its decision of 15 May 2009, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010). The Constitution also unconditionally requires that a member of the Seimas pledge to conscientiously serve their Homeland, democracy, and the welfare of the people of Lithuania.

7.3. By taking the oath, a member of the Seimas assumes an unconditional obligation to observe all the values referred to in the oath. Thus, the act of the oath of a member of the Seimas is constitutionally legally significant: when taking the oath, an elected member of the Seimas publicly and solemnly assumes an obligation to act in the way that the oath taken obliges and to breach the oath under no circumstances (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 25 May 2004 and 1 July 2004, its decision of 15 May 2009, and its conclusion of 27 October 2010).

7.4. In its ruling of 25 May 2004, the Constitutional Court held the following: faithfulness to the State of Lithuania is also inseparable from faithfulness to the Constitution; upon the breach of the oath to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitution is also grossly violated.

In this context, it should be noted that, in its conclusion of 31 March 2004, the Constitutional Court held the following: not every violation of the Constitution is in itself a gross violation of the Constitution; when deciding whether the actions of the President of the Republic have grossly violated the Constitution, it is necessary to assess, in each case, the content of the concrete actions of the President of the Republic as well as the circumstances of their performance; a breach of the oath of the President of the Republic is also a gross violation of the Constitution, while a gross violation of the Constitution is also a breach of the oath; the Constitution would be violated grossly by the actions of the President of the Republic in cases where the President of the Republic would hold office in bad faith, would act not in the interests of the Nation and the state but in his/her personal interests, those of individual persons or their groups, would act for other purposes and in other interests that are incompatible with the Constitution, laws, and public interests, or would knowingly fail to discharge the duties established for the President of the Republic in the Constitution and laws.

In its conclusion of 27 October 2010, the Constitutional Court held that the said provisions of the constitutional doctrine are also applicable mutatis mutandis to the legal situations when deciding whether the actions of a member of the Seimas, by which the Constitution has been violated, constitute a gross violation of the Constitution.

  1. In its acts adopted in previous constitutional justice cases, inter alia, in its rulings of 25 May 2004, 1 July 2004, 4 April 2006 and its decision of 15 May 2009, the Constitutional Court has formulated a broad official doctrine of the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas:

– the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas integrates the duties, rights, guarantees of the activity, as well as responsibility, of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation, and is based upon the constitutional principle of the free mandate of a member of the Seimas; the essence of the free mandate of a member of the Seimas is that a representative of the Nation is free to implement the rights and duties vested in them without restricting this freedom by the mandates of the electorate, political requirements of parties or organisations which have nominated them, and without recognising the imperative mandate and the right to recall a member of the Seimas; the free mandate of a member of the Seimas is one of the guarantees of the independence of activities and equality of rights of members of the Seimas; the free mandate of a member of the Seimas is not a privilege of a representative of the Nation but one of the legal measures ensuring that the Nation will be properly represented in its democratically elected representation, the Seimas, and that the representation of the Nation, the Seimas, will act only in the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania; the free mandate of a member of the Seimas may not be used in the interests other than those of the Nation and the State of Lithuania; it must be used in such a way that the Seimas could act effectively in the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania, and that it would properly discharge its constitutional obligation; the duty of a member of the Seimas to act in the way that the oath taken by the member of the Seimas obliges, while paying heed to the requirements stemming from the Constitution and the laws which are not in conflict with it, may not be interpreted as meaning a restriction of the constitutional principle of the free mandate of a member of the Seimas;

– while in office, and implementing their rights, members of the Seimas are guided by the Constitution, state interests, and their own consciences; under the Constitution, a member of the Seimas not only acquires respective rights, but they must also discharge certain duties stemming from the Constitution and the laws which are not in conflict with it; the Constitution implies the notion of discretion of a member of the Seimas and the conscience of a member of the Seimas, according to which no gap must exist between the discretion of a member of the Seimas and the conscience of a member of the Seimas, on the one hand, and the requirements of the Constitution, as well as the values protected and defended by the Constitution, on the other hand: under the Constitution, the discretion of a member of the Seimas and their conscience must be oriented towards the Constitution, and the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania;

– the right of a member of the Seimas to vote at their own discretion in the course of the adoption of any decision of the Seimas, i.e. to vote on each issue according to their conscience, stems from the principle of the free mandate of a member of the Seimas, which is entrenched in the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 4 of Article 59 thereof. The political will of the majority of the members of the Seimas is reflected in Seimas resolutions. Under the Constitution, the will of the Seimas regarding the adoption of particular decisions may not be expressed otherwise than by vote of members of the Seimas at a sitting of the Seimas and the adoption of a particular legal act.

  1. Alongside, it needs to be noted that, in its ruling of 1 July 2004 and its decision of 10 February 2005, while construing the principle of the continuity of the activity of the Seimas, which is consolidated in the Constitution, the Constitutional Court, inter alia, held that:

– under the Constitution, a member of the Seimas is a professional politician, i.e. such a representative of the Nation whose work at the Seimas is their professional activity; the continuity of the activity of the Seimas also implies the continuity of the activity of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation;

– the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation, implies the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, thus, also their duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas;

– the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to participate in the work of the Seimas includes, inter alia, their duty to participate in the work of structural subunits of the Seimas, a member of which they are, and to exercise other powers of a member of the Seimas established in the Constitution, laws and the Statute of the Seimas; the discharge of powers of a member of the Seimas, thus, the work of a member of the Seimas referred to in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution as well, also constitute the activity of a member of the Seimas when they carry out assignments and other tasks of the Seimas, its committees and other structural subunits, when, in the cases established by law, they represent groups of members of the Seimas, etc.;

– situations may arise where, due to extremely important personal and other justifiable reasons, a member of the Seimas cannot attend, for a certain period of time, the sittings of the Seimas, of committees of the Seimas, and of other structural subunits, a member of which they are, and/or cannot discharge, for a certain period of time, other duties of a member of the Seimas; in the aforesaid cases, such a member of the Seimas must apply to the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) for a permission not to attend, for the said period of time, the sittings of the Seimas, of committees of the Seimas, and of other structural subunits, a member of which they are, and not to discharge, for the said period of time, other duties of a member of the Seimas; if the reasons specified by a member of the Seimas are especially important and justifiable, the aforementioned permission is granted to them; if such a permission is not granted, the failure of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, of committees of the Seimas, and of other structural subunits, a member of which they are, or failure to discharge other duties of a member of the Seimas would be unjustifiable;

– situations may also arise where a member of the Seimas is not capable of notifying the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) of their absence from a particular sitting before the commencement of the sitting; the legislature has a duty to establish under what procedure the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) in these cases as well would be able to decide whether the reasons of the failure of that member of the Seimas to attend a particular sitting were especially important and justifiable.

In its conclusion of 27 October 2010, the Constitutional Court held that, under the Constitution, after an elected member of the Seimas takes the oath and acquires all the rights of a representative of the Nation, a constitutional duty arises for that member of the Seimas to be unconditionally faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, respect and execute the Constitution and laws. In discharging their functions and implementing state authority, members of the Seimas must follow the Constitution and law and obey them, also, they must act in the interests of the Nation and the State of Lithuania, not in their personal or group interests, and not make use of their status in order to gain personal advantage either for themselves, persons close to them, or other persons. A breach of the oath and a gross violation of the Constitution may incur the revocation of the mandate of a member of the Seimas.

It has been mentioned that not every violation of the Constitution is in itself a gross violation of the Constitution. In its conclusion of 27 October 2010, the Constitutional Court held that when deciding whether a member of the Seimas has grossly violated the Constitution by their actions, in each case, it is necessary to assess the nature of the actions, their content, the circumstances of their performance, time, place, systematicity, repeatedness, duration, the behaviour of the person, who carried out the said actions, after the commission of these actions, and other significant circumstances.

III

  1. Under Item 4 of Paragraph 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court presents a conclusion on whether the concrete actions of members of the Seimas and state officials against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution. It has been mentioned that, under Article 74 of the Constitution, the Seimas may revoke, under the procedure for impeachment proceedings, the mandate of a member of the Seimas by a 3/5 majority vote of all the members.

Paragraph 3 of Article 107 of the Constitution stipulates that, on the basis of the conclusions of the Constitutional Court, the Seimas takes a final decision on the issues specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution.

  1. It should be noted that, in its rulings of 15 April 2004 and 25 May 2004, when interpreting Item 4 of Paragraph 3 of Article 105 and Paragraph 3 of Article 107 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court held that:

– under the Constitution, two institutions of branches of state power—the Seimas and the Constitutional Court—enjoy the powers in impeachment proceedings; each of these state institutions are assigned, under the Constitution, the powers that are in line with their functions in impeachment proceedings: an impeachment case may be instituted only upon a proposal (initiative) of members of the Seimas; a conclusion on whether the concrete actions of the person against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution is presented by the Constitutional Court; if the Constitutional Court draws a conclusion that the person against whom an impeachment case has been instituted has grossly violated the Constitution, the Seimas may remove such a person from office or may revoke their mandate of a member of the Seimas by not less than 3/5 majority vote of all the members of the Seimas;

– only the Constitutional Court has the powers to decide whether the persons specified in Article 74 of the Constitution, against whom impeachment proceedings have been initiated, have grossly violated the Constitution (taking account of the fact that a gross violation of the Constitution is also a breach of the oath, it has the powers to decide whether such persons have breached the oath); the conclusion of the Constitution Court that a person has grossly violated the Constitution (and, thus, has breached the oath) is final; no state institution, no state official, no other subject may change or revoke such a conclusion of the Constitution Court;

– if the Seimas, while following the Constitution, has removed a state official specified in Article 74 of the Constitution from office or revoked their mandate of a member of the Seimas under the procedure for impeachment proceedings, such a decision of the Seimas is final.

  1. Under the Constitution, only the Constitutional Court has the powers to decide whether the concrete actions of a member of the Seimas against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution, and whether a member of the Seimas has grossly violated the Constitution. Thus, a constitutional duty is established for the Constitutional Court to investigate whether a member of the Seimas has carried out the concrete actions specified in an inquiry to the Constitutional Court and assess whether these actions are in conflict with the Constitution, or whether the Constitution has been grossly violated. While investigating whether the concrete actions of a member of the Seimas, which are specified in an inquiry of the Seimas, are in conflict with the Constitution, or whether the Constitution has been grossly violated, the Constitutional Court investigates and assesses both the evidence provided to the Constitutional Court along with the inquiry to the Constitutional Court and all the other evidence obtained in the course of the consideration of the case at the Constitutional Court, which either confirms or denies the fact that a member of the Seimas has carried out the concrete actions specified in the inquiry, or which either confirms or denies the fact that the said actions are in conflict with the Constitution and that the Constitution has been grossly violated.
  2. In its ruling of 11 May 1999, the Constitutional Court held that the constitutional concept of impeachment implies fair legal proceedings in which the priority is given to the protection of the rights of a person; the protection of the rights of a person is guaranteed only if the proceedings are public, the parties to the proceedings enjoy equal rights, and the legal disputes, in particular those regarding the rights of a person, are decided by ensuring that the said person has the right and opportunity to defend these rights.

It should be noted that a duty stems from the requirement for fair legal proceedings for the legislature to establish the legal regulation that creates preconditions for a member of the Seimas or a state official against whom impeachment is or has been instituted to defend their rights at all stages of impeachment proceedings. It should also be noted that the requirement for fair legal proceedings implies the duty of the state institutions that enjoy the constitutional powers in impeachment proceedings, i.e. the Seimas and the Constitutional Court, when they implement their respective functions in impeachment proceedings, to enable a person against whom impeachment is or has been instituted to implement their rights in impeachment proceedings.

In addition, it should be noted that the right of a member of the Seimas or a state official against whom impeachment is or has been instituted and their obligation arising out of their oath is to participate in impeachment proceedings. A member of the Seimas or a state official who has taken the oath to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, to respect and execute its Constitution and laws, must respect state institutions. Thus, a member of the Seimas or a state official against whom impeachment is or has been instituted has an obligation to arrive, when invited, at the state institutions that enjoy the constitutional powers in impeachment proceedings and provide explanations for the actions that are a subject matter of the investigation and assessment by these institutions. Failure to fulfil this obligation when a person is duly informed about the ongoing impeachment proceedings does not prevent the state institutions that enjoy the constitutional powers in impeachment proceedings, inter alia, the Constitutional Court, to exercise their powers and adopt decisions which fall within their competence.

IV

On the actions of Neringa Venckienė, a member of the Seimas, against whom an impeachment case has been instituted, with the Constitution

  1. In its inquiry set forth in Resolution No. XII-665 of 12 December 2013, the Seimas requests a conclusion on whether the actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė—failure to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, and the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013—are in conflict with the Constitution.
  2. The conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė indicates, inter alia, that Neringa Venckienė failed to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, and the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013; she had notified neither the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings nor the Chair of the aforementioned committee of her absence; Neringa Venckienė’s failure to attend, without a justifiable reason, the aforementioned sittings could be judged to be a possible breach of the oath of a member of the Seimas and a gross violation of the Constitution.
  3. Seimas member Neringa Venckienė did not provide any explanations to the Special Investigation Commission (the material of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė, the Constitutional Court’s case No. 3/2014 (hereinafter referred to as the CCc), vol. I, pp. 25–93) or to the Constitutional Court. She did not appoint her representative in this case either.
  4. In the case at issue, the following has been established:

4.1. On 3 July 2012, pursuant to Article 187 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania, a prosecutor of the Panevėžys Regional Prosecutor’s Office issued a notification of suspicion to Neringa Venckienė, in which he indicated that she was suspected of having committed certain criminal deeds provided for in Paragraph 1 (regarding a negligible bodily harm) of Article 140, Article 163 (regarding an abuse of the rights of the representative of a child), Paragraph 1 (regarding the hindering of the activities of a bailiff) of Article 231, Article 232 (regarding contempt of court), Article 245 (regarding failure to comply with a court’s decision not associated with a penalty), and Article 286 (regarding resistance against a state servant) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania. This notification was handed in to Neringa Venckienė on 9 October 2012. Neringa Venckienė refused to sign the notification of suspicion and did not give any testimony (the pre-trial investigation material provided by the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, CCc, vol. I, pp. 126–127).

4.2. It has been mentioned that, at the Seimas sitting of 16 November 2012, elected Seimas member Neringa Venckienė swore to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, to respect and execute its Constitution and laws and to protect the integrity of its lands, to strengthen, to the best of her ability, the independence of Lithuania, and to conscientiously serve her Homeland, democracy, and the welfare of the people of Lithuania.

4.3. On 15 January 2013, Darius Valys, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania, applied to the Seimas with a request for the assent to hold Seimas member Neringa Venckienė criminally liable, arrest her or have her freedom restricted otherwise (the shorthand record of the morning sitting of the first (autumn) session (No. 17) of 15 January 2013).

4.4. By means of Article 1 of the Resolution (No. XII-146) “On the Formation of the Provisional Investigation Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania for the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise” of 15 January 2013, the Seimas formed the Seimas Provisional Investigation Commission for the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise, and, by means of Paragraph 3 of Article 3 of the said resolution, it entrusted the said Commission with carrying out an investigation and drawing up a conclusion by 25 March 2013.

By means of Article 1 of the Resolution (No. XII-202) “On Amending Article 3 of the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the Formation of the Provisional Investigation Commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania for the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise’” of 21 March 2013, the Seimas extended the period during which the Commission had been entrusted with carrying out an investigation and drawing up a conclusion until 2 April 2013.

4.5. On 28 March 2013, the Seimas Provisional Investigation Commission for the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise submitted a certificate, in Item 10 whereof it proposed that the Seimas give its assent to hold Seimas member Neringa Venckienė criminally liable, arrest her or have her freedom restricted otherwise (the 28 March 2014 certificate of the Seimas Provisional Investigation Commission for the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise).

4.6. The pre-trial investigation material makes it clear that Neringa Venckienė departed from the Republic of Lithuania no later than on 8 April 2013 (the pre-trial investigation material submitted by the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, CCc, vol. I, pp. 137–147).

4.7. Neringa Venckienė has declared her place of residence in one of the houses in Klonio str., Teleičiai village, the Garliava locality subdistrict, the Kaunas district municipality. The Residents’ Register of the Republic of Lithuania contains no data about her departure to a foreign state (the 20 January 2014 Certificate (No. (29)2A-32) “On Personal Data” of the Residents’ Register Service under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania, CCc, vol. I, p. 167).

4.8. On 9 April 2013, the Seimas adopted the Resolution “On the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise ”, in which, in view of the Prosecutor General’s proposal and the 28 March 2013 certificate of the Seimas Provisional Investigation Commission for the Assent to Hold Neringa Venckienė, a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, Criminally Liable, Arrest Her or Have Her Freedom Restricted Otherwise, it assented to hold Seimas member Neringa Venckienė criminally liable, arrest her or have her freedom restricted otherwise. That Seimas resolution came into force from the moment of its adoption.

4.9. Seimas member Neringa Venckienė failed to attend the plenary sitting of the Seimas of 9 April 2013, which, inter alia, addressed the issue of assent to hold her criminally liable, arrest her or have her freedom restricted otherwise, as well as subsequent plenary sittings of the Seimas (the material submitted by the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas—the minutes and registration sheets of the sittings that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė missed, CCc, vol. II–V).

4.10. On 9 May 2013, a prosecutor of the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office adopted a resolution to announce the search for the suspect Neringa Venckienė. In the resolution, it is indicated that the suspect Neringa Venckienė has not been served with the summonses to appear at the questioning, her whereabouts are unknown, she is hiding from the officials of the pre-trial investigation (the pre-trial investigation material submitted by the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, CCc, vol. I, pp. 123–125).

4.11. On 24 May 2013, the Board of the Seimas decided to take account of the certificate of the Seimas Commission for Ethics and Procedures regarding the attendance of Seimas members at the sittings of the Seimas in April 2013 and to entrust the Office of the Seimas with suspending the payment of remuneration to Seimas member Neringa Venckienė (the minutes (No. SV-P-33) of the sittings of the Board of the Seimas of 24 May 2013).

4.12. The following sittings of the Seimas took place between April and November 2013: morning and evening plenary sittings on 9, 11, 16, 18, 23, and 25 April 2013, morning and evening plenary sittings on 7, 9, 16, 21, 23, and 30 May 2013, plenary sittings on 14 and 28 May 2013, morning and evening plenary sittings on 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27 June 2013, a morning and evening plenary sitting on 2 July 2013, a solemn sitting of the Seimas to mark the start of the Republic of Lithuania’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 4 July 2013, morning and evening plenary sittings on 12, 17, and 19 September 2013, a plenary sitting on 10 September 2013, morning and evening plenary sittings on 1, 3, 8, 15, and 22 October 2013, morning and evening plenary sittings on 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, and 26 November 2013 (the minutes of the sittings of the Seimas of April–November 2013, CCc, vol. II-V).

Thus, overall, 72 plenary sittings of the Seimas took place between April and November 2013.

4.13. In its conclusion, the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė held that Neringa Venckienė had failed to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that had taken place between April and November 2013; she had failed to notify the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings of her absence.

The minutes of the sittings of the Seimas, which took place at the Seimas between April and November 2013, (CCc, vol. II–V) and the 21 February 2014 Letter (No. S-2014-1501) of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas (CCc, vol. I, pp. 185–186) confirm that, between April and November 2013, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė missed, inter alia, 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas, i.e.: the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 16, 18, 23, and 25 April 2013, the morning plenary sittings that took place on 9 and 11 April 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 9, 16, 21, 23, and 30 May 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 7 May 2013, the plenary sittings that took place on 14 and 28 May 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27 June 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 2 July 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 17 and 19 September 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 12 September 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 1, 3, 8, 15, and 22 October 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 10 October 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 7, 12, 14, 19, and 26 November 2013, and the evening plenary sitting that took place on 21 November 2013.

4.14. The following sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs took place between April and November 2013: the sittings of 10, 17, and 24 April 2013, the sittings of 8, 15, 22, 28, 29, and 30 May 2013, the sittings of 12, 19, 25, 26, and 27 June 2013, the sittings of 2, 3, and 17 July 2013, the sittings of 4, 11, 18, and 25 September 2013, the sittings of 2, 9, 16, and 23 of October 2013, and the sittings of 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 20, 21, and 27 November 2013 (the 7 February 2014 letter (No. V-2014-687) of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs with annexes, CCc, vol. II, pp. 4–37).

Thus, overall, 33 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs took place between April and November 2013.

4.15. In its conclusion, the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė held that Neringa Venckienė had failed to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013; she had failed to notify the Chair of the said committee of her absence.

The lists of participants of the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, which took place at the Seimas between April and November 2013, (CCc, vol. II–V, pp. 5–37) and the 21 February 2014 Letter (No. S-2014-1501) of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas (CCc, vol. I, pp. 185–186) confirm that, between April and November 2013, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė missed, inter alia, 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, i.e.: the sittings of 10, 17, and 24 April 2013, the sittings of 8, 15, 22, 28, 29, and 30 May 2013, the sittings of 12, 19, 25, 26, and 27 June 2013, the sittings of 2, 3, and 17 July 2013, the sittings of 4, 11, 18, and 25 September 2013, and the sittings of 2, 9, 16, and 23 of October 2013.

  1. In view of what has been established in this case, it should be held that:

5.1. The conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission For Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė, the minutes of the sittings of the Seimas, which took place at the Seimas between April and November 2013, the lists of participants of the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, which took place between April and November 2013, and the 21 February 2014 letter (No. S-2014-1501) of the Office of the Commissions of the Office of the Seimas confirm that, between April and November 2013, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė missed the following:

– 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas, i.e.: the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 16, 18, 23, and 25 April 2013, the morning plenary sittings that took place on 9 and 11 April 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 9, 16, 21, 23, and 30 May 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 7 May 2013, the plenary sittings that took place on 14 and 28 May 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27 June 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 2 July 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 17 and 19 September 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 12 September 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 1, 3, 8, 15, and 22 October 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 10 October 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 7, 12, 14, 19, and 26 November 2013, and the evening plenary sitting that took place on 21 November 2013;

– 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, i.e.: the sittings of 10, 17, and 24 April 2013, the sittings of 8, 15, 22, 28, 29, and 30 May 2013, the sittings of 12, 19, 25, 26, and 27 June 2013, the sittings of 2, 3, and 17 July 2013, the sittings of 4, 11, 18, and 25 September 2013, and the sittings of 2, 9, 16, and 23 of October 2013.

5.2. Seimas member Neringa Venckienė did not ask for the approval of the Board of the Seimas for her departure from the Republic of Lithuania, failed to notify the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings and the Chair of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that she would not attend the plenary sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that would take place between April and November 2013.

5.3. Although 72 plenary sittings of the Seimas and 33 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs took place between April and November 2013, however, as mentioned before, the Seimas requests a conclusion on whether the actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė—failure to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, and the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013—are not in conflict with the Constitution, therefore, the Constitutional Court will not investigate whether the actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė—failure to attend any other plenary sittings of the Seimas and any other sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs than those in respect of which the Seimas has applied to the Constitutional Court—are in conflict with the Constitution.

  1. The material of the constitutional justice case at issue makes it clear that since April 2013, i.e. since Seimas member Neringa Venckienė has not been attending the plenary sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, 36 draft laws and 10 draft Seimas resolutions indicating that Neringa Venckienė proposes them together with other members of the Seimas have been registered at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings:

– on 4 June 2013, 7 draft laws proposed by Neringa Venckienė together with Seimas members Valdas Vasiliauskas or Povilas Gylys were registered;

– on 17 December 2013, 17 draft laws and 1 draft Seimas resolution proposed by Neringa Venckienė together with Seimas member Jonas Varkala were registered;

– on 4 March 2014, 5 draft laws and 5 draft Seimas resolutions proposed by Neringa Venckienė together with Seimas member Jonas Varkala were registered;

– on 22 April 2014, 7 draft laws and 4 draft Seimas resolutions proposed by Neringa Venckienė together with Seimas member Jonas Varkala were registered.

6.1. At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the witnesses—Seimas members Povilas Gylys, Jonas Varkala, and Valdas Vasiliauskas—were questioned. They explained that they did not have any doubt that the draft legal acts proposed together with Seimas member Neringa Venckienė had been signed by Seimas member Neringa Venckienė. According to Seimas member Jonas Varkala, he received draft laws and draft Seimas resolutions proposed together with Seimas member Neringa Venckienė from Neringa Venckienė’s parents or by post; according to Seimas member Valdas Vasiliauskas, he had received the draft legal acts from Jonas Varkala who told him that he had received them from Neringa Venckienė’s parents.

6.2. Under the 2 April 2014 instruction of the justice-rapporteur, in order to ascertain whether certain drafts proposed on 4 June 2013, 17 December 2013, and 4 March 2014 had been signed by Neringa Venckienė, and whether the signature on behalf of Neringa Venckienė is not copied by using technical means, as well as to ascertain what had been written earlier—the text of the draft legal acts or the signature on behalf of Neringa Venckienė—an expert evaluation of the documents and handwriting was ordered.

In the 8 April 2014 expert evaluation act (No. 11-934 (14)) of the Forensic Science Centre of Lithuania, the conclusion is drawn that, after assessing the coincidences of general and special features of the signatures appearing in the documents submitted for the investigation, it was established that they did not contain the entirety of features sufficient for the identification of the person who signed, therefore, it was not possible to ascertain whether Neringa Venckienė or another person signed on behalf of Neringa Venckienė in the draft legal acts (CCc, vol. VII, pp. 95–101).

In the 17 April 2014 expert evaluation act (No. 11-937 (14)) of the Forensic Science Centre of Lithuania, the conclusion is drawn that the signatures on behalf of Neringa Venckienė appearing in the documents submitted for the investigation were signed in pen and in usual handwriting, i.e. they were not technically forged. The conclusion is also drawn that the signatures on behalf of Neringa Venckienė in the documents submitted for the investigation (with the exception of one in respect of which the presentation of a conclusion was refused) were signed on the printed text, i.e. the text was first printed and then signed (CCc, vol. VII, pp. 103–110).

  1. Seimas member Neringa Venckienė did not provide any explanations regarding her failure to attend the aforementioned 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas and 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs.
  2. It should be noted that appropriate measures were taken in the impeachment proceedings in order to notify Seimas member Neringa Venckienė of the ongoing proceedings and enable her to provide explanations in the impeachment case.

8.1. The Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė sent invitations to attend the sittings and provide explanations to Seimas member Neringa Venckienė by registered mail to the address of her declared place of residence and to the official electronic mail of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė; letters inviting Seimas member Neringa Venckienė to appear at the sittings of the said Commission were handed in to the political group “The Way of Courage” and the political party “The Way of Courage” of the Seimas.

8.2. The letters of the justice-rapporteur with requests for written explanations regarding the case under preparation (including explanations regarding the petitioner’s arguments at the case at issue) or, after appointing an authorised representative, for entrusting them with providing written explanations regarding the aforementioned case, as well as the summonses to be present at the Constitutional Court’s hearing, which had been signed by the Acting President of the Constitutional Court, were sent to Seimas member Neringa Venckienė to the Seimas and to the address of her declared place of residence.

It should be noted that notifications and summonses to Seimas member Neringa Venckienė were sent to the address, which, after April 2013, i.e. since Seimas member Neringa Venckienė has not been attending the plenary sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, is indicated by her as the address of her place of residence or the address to which correspondence should be sent. In particular:

– on 23 December 2013 and 6 March 2014, Neringa Venckienė submitted requests to Mykolas Romeris University for the issuance of a certificate in doctoral studies at this university; therein answers are requested to be sent to the address of one of the houses in Klonio str., Teleičiai village, the Garliava locality subdistrict, Kaunas district, i.e. where Neringa Venckienė’s place of residence is declared (the pre-trial investigation material of the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, CCc, vol. VII, pp. 128–143);

– on 5 March 2014, the Kaunas Local Court heard a civil case where Neringa Venckienė was one of the petitioners; in the documents of the said case, the following address of Neringa Venckienė is indicated: one of the houses in Klonio str., Teleičiai village, the Garliava locality subdistrict, the Kaunas district (the copies of the documents of civil case No. 2-5840-713/2014 of the Kaunas Local Court, CCc, vol. VII, pp. 51–55; the pre-trial investigation material submitted by the Šiauliai Regional Prosecutor’s Office, CCc, vol. VII, p. 128).

8.3. On 18 April 2014, a notification of the judicial hearing concerning the inquiry, which is set forth in the Seimas resolution, into whether the concrete actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė are in conflict with the Constitution, was circulated via the Press Centre of the Baltic News Service and since that day it has been on the website of the Constitutional Court; in the said notifications, Neringa Venckienė was also informed about a possibility of providing explanations regarding the case under preparation (CCc, vol. VII, p. 93).

  1. After assessing the indicated data, it should be held that, by using the address of her declared place of residence, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė corresponds with, and by using other means of transmitting (receiving) information in her personal interests, communicates with certain persons and institutions. Thus, there is no ground for doubting that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė had a chance to notify the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings and the Chair of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that she would not attend the plenary sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, a member of which she is, which took place between April and November 2013, and to notify them of the reasons of her absence, which she failed to do.
  2. It has been mentioned that the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation, implies the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, thus, also their duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas; the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to participate in the work of the Seimas includes, inter alia, their duty to participate in the work of structural subunits of the Seimas, a member of which they are, and to exercise other powers of a member of the Seimas established in the Constitution, laws and the Statute of the Seimas.

10.1. The participation of members of the Seimas in the work of the Seimas, inter alia, at the sittings of the Seimas and at the sittings of a committee of the Seimas, is regulated by the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998 with subsequent amendments and/or supplements).

Paragraphs 1, 2, and 5 of Article 10 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, prescribe:

“1. A Seimas member must participate at the Seimas sittings.

  1. Each Seimas member, with the exception of the Speaker of the Seimas and the Prime Minister, must serve as a member of some committee and must participate in the work thereof <...>
  2. A Seimas member must participate at the sittings of <...> the Seimas committees <...> a member of which they are.”

Paragraphs 2, 3, and 5 of Article 11 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas prescribe:

“2. If a Seimas member is unable to attend a Seimas sitting, a Seimas committee <...> meeting, they must, in advance or if not possible in advance—not later than within one week, notify respectively the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings, the Chair of the committee <...>, specifying the reasons of non-attendance.

  1. Important and justifiable reasons for non-attendance at Seimas sittings as well as at Seimas committee <...> meetings shall include Seimas member’s temporary working incapacity, a business trip, a child-rearing leave or other important circumstances, as well as non-attendance at sittings or meetings with the approval of the Board of the Seimas. If a Seimas member fails to inform that they will not attend a sitting or meeting or to indicate the reasons for non-attendance, it shall be deemed that a sitting or meeting has been missed without an important and justifiable reason.

<...>

  1. The Commission for Ethics and Procedures shall decide whether or not the reasons for non-attendance at a Seimas meeting are important and justifiable, the Chairs of the Seimas committees <...> decide whether or not the reasons for non-attendance at a Seimas committee <...> meeting are important and justifiable. Disputes over whether or not the reasons for non-attendance at a committee <...> meeting are important and justifiable, shall be solved by the Commission for Ethics and Procedures, taking into account the conclusions of the Chairs of the appropriate committees <...> and the explanations of a member of the Seimas.”

10.2. The Seimas Commission for Ethics and Procedures decided that, between April and November 2013, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė had missed 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas and had failed to attend 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs without an important and justifiable reason (the 3 December 2013 Letter (No. V-2013-8048) of the Seimas Commission for Ethics and Procedures, and the material of the Special Investigation Commission for Impeachment Against Seimas Member Neringa Venckienė, CCc, vol. I, p. 33).

10.3. It should be noted that reasons such as departure from the Republic of Lithuania, the fact that a person is a suspect in criminal proceedings and that their search is announced, as well as that they may be hiding from a pre-trial investigation in order to avoid criminal liability, cannot in themselves be important and justifiable reasons for failure to attend the sittings of the Seimas and a committee of the Seimas, as well as for failure to notify of one’s inability to attend the said sittings.

  1. Thus, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, who failed to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, i.e.: the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 16, 18, 23, and 25 April 2013, the morning plenary sittings that took place on 9 and 11 April 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 9, 16, 21, 23, and 30 May 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 7 May 2013, the plenary sittings that took place on 14 and 28 May 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27 June 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 2 July 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 17 and 19 September 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 12 September 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 1, 3, 8, 15, and 22 October 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 10 October 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 7, 12, 14, 19, and 26 November 2013, and the evening plenary sitting that took place on 21 November 2013, as well as the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs the took place between April and November 2013, i.e.: the sittings of 10, 17, and 24 April 2013, the sittings of 8, 15, 22, 28, 29, and 30 May 2013, the sittings of 12, 19, 25, 26, and 27 June 2013, the sittings of 2, 3, and 17 July 2013, the sittings of 4, 11, 18, and 25 September 2013, and the sittings of 2, 9, 16, and 23 of October 2013, violated the provisions of Paragraphs 1, 2, and 5 of Article 10 (wording of 23 December 2005) and Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 11 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas.
  2. Paragraph 2 of Article 59 of the Constitution prescribes that an elected member of the Seimas acquires all the rights of a representative of the Nation only after taking at the Seimas an oath to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania; Paragraph 4 of the said article prescribes that, when in office, members of the Seimas follow the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the interests of the state as well as their own consciences, and may not be restricted by any mandates.
  3. In this Constitutional Court’s conclusion, it has been mentioned that:

– the text of the oath of a member of the Seimas is established in Article 5 of the Law “On the Procedure for Entry into Force of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania”, which is a constituent part of the Constitution; the Constitution unconditionally requires that a member of the Seimas take an oath to be faithful only to the State of Lithuania, that they pledge to respect and execute its Constitution and laws; by taking the oath, a member of the Seimas assumes an unconditional obligation to observe all the constitutional values and conscientiously serve their Homeland; the act of the oath of a member of the Seimas is constitutionally legally significant: when taking the oath, an elected member of the Seimas publicly and solemnly assumes an obligation to act in the way that the oath taken obliges and to breach the oath under no circumstances;

– the responsibility of the authorities to society is inseparable from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law; this responsibility is constitutionally entrenched by having established that state institutions serve the people and that the scope of power is limited by the Constitution;

– under the Constitution, a member of the Seimas is a professional politician; the continuity of the activity of the Seimas also implies the continuity of the activity of a member of the Seimas as a representative of the Nation; the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas as a representative of the Nation implies the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, thus, also their duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas; the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to participate in the work of the Seimas includes, inter alia, their duty to participate in the work of structural subunits of the Seimas, a member of which they are, and to exercise other powers of a member of the Seimas established in the Constitution, laws and the Statute of the Seimas;

– situations may arise where, due to extremely important personal and other justifiable reasons, a member of the Seimas cannot attend, for a certain period of time, the sittings of the Seimas, of committees of the Seimas, and of other structural subunits, a member of which they are, and/or cannot discharge, for a certain period of time, other duties of a member of the Seimas; in the aforesaid cases, such a member of the Seimas must apply to the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) for a permission not to attend, for the said period of time, the sittings of the Seimas, of committees of the Seimas, and of other structural subunits, a member of which they are, and not to discharge, for the said period of time, other duties of a member of the Seimas; if such a permission is not granted, the failure of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, of committees of the Seimas, and of other structural subunits, a member of which they are, or failure to discharge other duties of a member of the Seimas would be unjustifiable;

– not every violation of the Constitution is in itself a gross violation of the Constitution; when deciding whether a member of the Seimas has grossly violated the Constitution by their actions, in each case, it is necessary to assess the nature of the actions, the content, circumstances, time, place, systematicity, repeatedness, and duration of their performance, the behaviour of the person, who carried out the said actions, after the commission of these actions, and other significant circumstances;

– faithfulness to the State of Lithuania is also inseparable from faithfulness to the Constitution; upon the breach of the oath to be faithful to the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitution is also grossly violated, while a gross violation of the Constitution is also a breach of the oath.

  1. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, as mentioned before:

– Seimas member Neringa Venckienė did not ask for the approval of the Board of the Seimas for her departure from the Republic of Lithuania, and failed to notify the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings and the Chair of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs of her departure;

– Seimas member Neringa Venckienė failed to attend, without any justifiable reasons, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, i.e.: the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 16, 18, 23, and 25 April 2013, the morning plenary sittings that took place on 9 and 11 April 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 9, 16, 21, 23, and 30 May 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 7 May 2013, the plenary sittings that took place on 14 and 28 May 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27 June 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 2 July 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 17 and 19 September 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 12 September 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 1, 3, 8, 15, and 22 October 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 10 October 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 7, 12, 14, 19, and 26 November 2013, and the evening plenary sitting that took place on 21 November 2013, as well as the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, that took place between April and November 2013, i.e.: the sittings of 10, 17, and 24 April 2013, the sittings of 8, 15, 22, 28, 29, and 30 May 2013, the sittings of 12, 19, 25, 26, and 27 June 2013, the sittings of 2, 3, and 17 July 2013, the sittings of 4, 11, 18, and 25 September 2013, and the sittings of 2, 9, 16, and 23 of October 2013;

– there is no ground for doubting that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė had a chance to notify the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings and the Chair of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that she would not attend the aforementioned plenary sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, which she failed to do;

– reasons such as departure from the Republic of Lithuania, the fact that a person is a suspect in criminal proceedings and that their search is announced, as well as that they may be hiding from a pre-trial investigation in order to avoid criminal liability, cannot in themselves be important and justifiable reasons for failure to attend the sittings of the Seimas and of a committee of the Seimas, as well as for failure to notify of one’s inability to attend the said sittings.

  1. It should be held that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė, who failed to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas and the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013, discharged her duties dishonestly, acted by raising her personal interests above the interests of the Nation and the state, knowingly failed to discharge the duties established for a member of the Seimas in the Constitution and laws, thereby showing disrespect for the Constitution and laws, thus, she did not act in the way that the oath taken of a member of the Seimas obliges. By these actions, she discredited the authority of the Seimas as the representation of the Nation.
  2. It has been mentioned that, since April 2013, i.e. since Seimas member Neringa Venckienė has not been attending the plenary sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, 36 draft laws and 10 draft Seimas resolutions indicating that Neringa Venckienė proposes them together with other members of the Seimas have been registered at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings.

16.1. The constitutional powers of the Seimas are entrenched in Article 67 of the Constitution. The said article establishes that the Seimas, inter alia: passes laws (Item 2); establishes state institutions provided for by law and appoints and dismisses their heads (Item 5); gives or does not give assent to the candidature of the Prime Minister submitted by the President of the Republic (Item 6); considers the programme of the Government presented by the Prime Minister and decides whether to give assent to it (Item 7); on the proposal of the Government, establishes and abolishes ministries of the Republic of Lithuania (Item 8); supervises the activities of the Government, and may express no-confidence in the Prime Minister or a Minister (Item 9); approves the State Budget and supervises its execution (Item 14); establishes state taxes and other compulsory payments (Item 15); ratifies and denounces international treaties of the Republic of Lithuania and considers other issues of foreign policy (Item 16); imposes direct rule and martial law, declares states of emergency, announces mobilisation, and adopts a decision to use the armed forces (Item 20).

It should be noted that the list of the constitutional powers of the Seimas consolidated in Article 67 of the Seimas is not final—more powers of the Seimas are established in different articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Constitution. Under the Constitution, the powers of the Seimas may be established and are established not only in the Constitution but also in laws.

In its ruling of 13 May 2004, the Constitutional Court held that the provisions of the Constitution, which establish the powers of the Seimas, make it clear that, while implementing its constitutional powers, the Seimas performs the classical functions of the parliament of a democratic state under the rule of law: the Seimas passes laws (the legislative function), carries out the parliamentary control over executive and other state institutions (save courts) (the control function), establishes state institutions, appoints and dismisses their heads and other state officials (the founding function), approves the state budget and supervises its execution (the budgetary function), etc.

Thus, legislation is one of the most important but not the only function of the Seimas.

The legislative procedure is regulated by Part V (Articles 135–186) of the Statute of the Seimas. Under the Statute of the Seimas, the legislative procedure comprises the following stages: the registration of draft laws and other draft acts of the Seimas (Articles 135–140), the submission of draft laws and other draft acts of the Seimas at a sitting of the Seimas (Articles 141–146), the consideration of a draft law in the lead committee (Articles 147–150), the consideration of a draft law at a sitting of the Seimas (Articles 151–154), and the adoption of a draft law at a sitting of the Seimas (Articles 155–161).

Thus, the drawing up of draft laws and other draft acts of the Seimas as well as their registration at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings is only one (the first one) of the stages of the legislative procedure that are established in the Statute of the Seimas.

16.3. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the mere fact that a member of the Seimas implements their right to draw up draft laws and other draft acts of the Seimas does not mean that they duly discharge the duties of a representative of the Nation. Episodic attendance when part of the constitutional powers of the Seimas to pass laws is implemented may not be judged to be a continuous activity of a member of the Seimas and a proper implementation of the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, inter alia, the discharge of the duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas and of its structural subunits.

16.4. Thus, the mere fact that draft laws and other draft acts of the Seimas indicating that Seimas member Neringa Venckienė proposes them together with other members of the Seimas have been registered at the Secretariat of the Seimas Sittings does not mean that, by failing to attend, without a justifiable reason, the plenary sittings of the Seimas and of the sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs, a member of which she is, she has duly discharged the duties of a member of the Seimas.

  1. In view of the foregoing circumstances and arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that the actions of Seimas member Neringa Venckienė—failure to attend, without a justifiable reason, the 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas that took place between April and November 2013, i.e.: the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 16, 18, 23, and 25 April 2013, the morning plenary sittings that took place on 9 and 11 April 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 9, 16, 21, 23, and 30 May 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 7 May 2013, the plenary sittings that took place on 14 and 28 May 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 11, 13, 18, 20, 25, and 27 June 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 2 July 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 17 and 19 September 2013, the morning plenary sittings that took place on 12 September 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 1, 3, 8, 15, and 22 October 2013, the morning plenary sitting that took place on 10 October 2013, the morning and evening plenary sittings that took place on 7, 12, 14, 19, and 26 November 2013, and the evening plenary sitting that took place on 21 November 2013, as well as the 25 sittings of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs that took place between April and November 2013, i.e.: the sittings of 10, 17, and 24 April 2013, the sittings of 8, 15, 22, 28, 29, and 30 May 2013, the sittings of 12, 19, 25, 26, and 27 June 2013, the sittings of 2, 3, and 17 July 2013, the sittings of 4, 11, 18, and 25 September 2013, and the sittings of 2, 9, 16, and 23 of October 2013—are in conflict with the Constitution. By these actions, Seimas member Neringa Venckienė has breached the oath and grossly violated the Constitution.

Conforming to Paragraph 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 73 and 83 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania adopts the following

conclusion:

The actions of Neringa Venckienė, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania—failure to attend, without a justifiable reason, 64 plenary sittings of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, which took place between April and November 2013, and 25 sittings of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, which took place between April and November 2013—are in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. By these actions, Neringa Venckienė, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, has breached the oath and grossly violated the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

This conclusion of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania is final and not subject to appeal.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                                       Elvyra Baltutytė
                                                                                                           Vytautas Greičius
                                                                                                           Danutė Jočienė
                                                                                                           Pranas Kuconis
                                                                                                           Gediminas Mesonis
                                                                                                           Vytas Milius
                                                                                                           Egidijus Šileikis
                                                                                                           Algirdas Taminskas
                                                                                                           Dainius Žalimas