Lt

On marking ballot-papers in voting at the Seimas

Case No. 2/2009

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF PARAGRAPH 6 OF ARTICLE 117 OF THE STATUTE OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, AS WELL AS ON THE COMPLIANCE OF RESOLUTION OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA NO. XI-1 “ON ELECTING A. VALINSKAS AS THE SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA" OF 17 NOVEMBER 2008 WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA AND WITH PARAGRAPH 6 OF ARTICLE 115, PARAGRAPH 3 OF ARTICLE 136 AND PARAGRAPH 2 OF ARTICLE 139 OF THE STATUTE OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 2 May 2012

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court Egidijus Bieliūnas, Toma Birmontienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Ramutė Ruškytė, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis, and Dainius Žalimas,

with the secretary—Daiva Pitrėnaitė,

in the presence of the representatives of a group of Members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, who were Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis and Julius Sabatauskas, both of whom are Members of the Seimas,

pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 19 April 2012, in its public hearing heard constitutional justice case No. 2/2009 subsequent to the petition of a group of Members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting to investigate whether:

– Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

– Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania No. XI-1 “On Electing A. Valinskas as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” of 17 November 2008, in view of the procedure of its adoption, is not in conflict with Article 1, Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of Article 7, Paragraph 4 of Article 59 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with Paragraph 6 of Article 115, Paragraph 3 of Article 136 and Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

  1. The petition of the group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requesting to investigate the compliance of Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas with the Constitution is substantiated by the following arguments.

The Constitutional Court has held that the legal regulation must not create any preconditions to violate the equal and direct electoral right and the imperative of secret ballot (Constitutional Court conclusion of 5 November 2004). Equal conditions must be created for the person who votes to express his will, both by voting “for”, as well as by voting “against”. Meanwhile, in cases when only one candidate is nominated, by means of the impugned legal regulation, the voting conditions are made unequal: in voting “against” it is necessary to cross out the surname of the candidate, whereas in voting “for” it is not necessary to make any actions expressing the will of the voter, i.e. it is not even necessary to enter into the secret voting booth.

In those cases when only one candidate is nominated, by the impugned legal regulation, according to which the voter must cross out the surnames of the candidates against whom he votes, one creates real possibilities to control the content of the secret ballot, because those who support the nominated candidate and do not have to cross out anything in their ballot-papers, do not have to enter into the secret voting booth. Therefore, the legal regulation which is enshrined in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas does not comply with the imperative of secret ballot and is in conflict with Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

  1. The petition of the group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requesting to investigate the compliance of Seimas Resolution No. XI-1 “On Electing A. Valinskas as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” of 17 November 2008 (hereinafter also referred to as Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008) with the Constitution and the Statute of the Seimas is substantiated by the following arguments.

2.1. The duty to follow the procedure established by law while adopting laws is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution which, according to the petitioner, is to be applied while adopting not only laws, but also other legal acts of the Seimas.

Preliminary legal evaluation of the draft is a constituent part of the legislation procedure, whereas skipping this stage should be assessed as violation of the constitutional requirements for the legislation process. In addition, under the Statute of the Seimas, a draft law of analogous content, except in the special instances, may be considered by the Seimas only after 6 months (Paragraph 2 of Article 139 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 135 of the Statute of the Seimas). This should be applicable not only to laws, but also other legal acts adopted by the Seimas. In the opinion of the petitioner, while adopting resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008, the Seimas did not comply with the compulsory procedure of adoption of legal acts which is established in the Statute of the Seimas and violated Paragraph 3 of Article 136 and Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas, as well as Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution.

2.2. The hierarchy of legal acts means that laws may not be in conflict with the Constitution, whereas sub-statutory legal acts—with the Constitution and laws; sub-statutory legal acts must be adopted on the basis of laws. However, while adopting the impugned resolution, one did not invoke the Statute of the Seimas (certain provisions of the Statute of the Seimas were violated), therefore, in the opinion of the petitioner, one did not follow the constitutional principle of hierarchy of legal acts and violated Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2.3. While representing the Nation, the Seimas, as the issuer of laws and other legal acts, is independent inasmuch as its powers are not limited by the Constitution and laws, otherwise one would violate the imperative, which is enshrined in Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution, that the scope of power shall be limited by the Constitution. While issuing legal acts, the Seimas must follow the procedure which is established in the Statute of the Seimas and may not decide independently not to follow it, as then it would exceed its powers and violate Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution. Thus, the legislator, who has adopted the impugned resolution by failing to comply with the compulsory procedure of adoption of legal acts which is established in the Statute of the Seimas, violated Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution.

2.4. During the voting on adoption of Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008, one did not follow the imperative of secret ballot, because not all parliamentarians entered into the secret voting booth (it was not entered by those who voted “for” and did not have to cross out the surname of the only one candidate), as it is provided in Paragraph 6 of Article 115 of the Statute of the Seimas. Thus, while adopting the impugned Seimas resolution, one violated Paragraph 6 of Article 115 of the Statute of the Seimas.

2.5. The principle of secret ballot is inseparable from a democratic state under the rule of law. The provision enshrined in Article 1 of the Constitution that the State of Lithuania shall be an independent democratic republic implies the principles of a democratic lifestyle of society and defends the universally recognised constitutional interests, such as free, fair and secret elections. The representatives of the Nation, expressing the supreme sovereign will of the Nation, must behave so that there would be no ground to doubt the constitutional interests guaranteed by the democratic republic. Therefore, while electing the Speaker of the Seimas without complying with the principle of secret ballot, one violated Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2.6. The institute of secret ballot is established seeking to protect the voters from revealing their will, to avoid direct or indirect influence and so not to violate the principle of the free mandate of a Member of the Seimas which is enshrined in Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution. When electing the Speaker of the Seimas, one did not follow the principle of secret ballot, therefore, the preconditions to influence the voting Members of the Seimas were created and so Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution was violated.

II

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court hearing written explanations were received from the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, who was Stasys Šedbaras, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs.

  1. In the written explanations it is stated that Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas is not in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representative of the Seimas is substantiated by the following arguments.

The procedure of marking or filling in the ballot-papers is exceptionally a matter of regulation by the Statute of the Seimas. This procedure must be such so that the conditions would be created to objectively express the will of Members of the Seimas and to correctly count the votes. Such a way of marking the ballot-papers when a candidate against whom one votes is crossed out and that one for whom a person votes is left, by its content and legal meaning does not differ from the way of marking, when one marks a candidate, for whom he votes and leaves unmarked the candidate, against whom he votes.

  1. In the written explanations it is also stated that Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008 is not in conflict with the Constitution and the Statute of the Seimas. The position of the representative of the Seimas is substantiated by the following arguments.

2.1. Upon the adoption of Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008, the official vote tellers commission formed by the Seimas approved the results of the voting, at the same time confirming that the voting procedure had properly been observed.

2.2. The principle of secret ballot does not oblige to keep the expressed will in secret after the voting and may not be interpreted as prohibiting the Member of the Seimas from revealing it to other Members of the Seimas or society. The right of the Member of the Seimas to freely talk regarding the questions considered by the Seimas stems from his legal status of a representative of the Nation.

2.3. Paragraph 3 of Article 136 of the Statute of the Seimas, in which it is prescribed that the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas draws up conclusions on whether or not the draft is in conformity with the Constitution and laws, is applied while adopting laws and other normative legal acts, as Part V of the Statute of the Seimas is applied to all draft laws of the Seimas and other draft normative acts, while the impugned resolution of the Seimas is a non-normative legal act. The Legal Department does not have to submit conclusions on all sub-statutory legal acts which are of non-normative character adopted by the Seimas, moreover, it does not assess the competence of the officials elected and appointed by the Seimas and their suitability for taking the office. Therefore, its conclusion was not necessary in the course of adoption of the impugned resolution of the Seimas.

2.4. Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas, which prescribes that a draft law of analogous content must be submitted for repeat consideration not earlier than after 6 months, is also applied only to draft laws and other normative legal acts and does not include the cases when a non-normative legal act of individual character is adopted in the Seimas. The procedure of adoption of non-normative legal acts of the Seimas is regulated not by Part V of the Statute of the Seimas, but by the special provisions of Part VI thereof. In addition, Paragraph 3 of Article 187 of the Statute of the Seimas clearly prescribes that the repeat elections of the Speaker of the Seimas are held during the next sitting of the Seimas, therefore, while electing the Speaker of the Seimas, Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas may not be applied.

2.5. The conflict of the impugned Seimas resolution with the Constitution is substantiated by the fact that it is in conflict with the provisions of the Statute of the Seimas, therefore, having held that this resolution is not in conflict with the Statute of the Seimas, one is to draw a conclusion that it is not in conflict with the Constitution, either.


III

At the Constitutional Court hearing, the representatives of the group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, who were V. P. Andriukaitis and J. Sabatauskas, Members of the Seimas, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in the petition of the petitioner and answered the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

On the compliance of Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998) with Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

  1. The group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requests to investigate whether Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998) is not in conflict with Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. In the opinion of the petitioner, by the impugned legal regulation one creates preconditions to violate the imperative of secret ballot, because in the case when only one candidate is nominated, the voter who supports the nominated candidate does not have to cross out anything in the ballot-paper and does not enter into the secret voting booth. By means of the impugned legal regulation different conditions to vote are created for those who vote “for” and those who vote “against”—one group of voters have to cross out the surname of the candidate against whom it is voted, while the others do not need to perform any active actions. So one creates the possibility to control the voting content of the voter.
  3. On 22 December 1998, the Seimas adopted the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania “On Amending the Statute”, whose Article 1 set forth the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 17 February 1994 with subsequent amendments and supplements) in a new wording. The Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998)(hereinafter also referred to as the Statute) came into force on 1 February 1999.
  4. Article 117 “Ballot-papers” of the Statute of the Seimas, whose Paragraph 6 is impugned by the petitioner, prescribes:

“1. A standard ballot-paper for secret and open voting shall be approved by the Seimas prior to voting.

  1. Issues concerning the dismissal of some official or declaration of non-confidence in an official shall be voted on with ballot-papers on which the propositions of: “Confidence” and “Non-confidence” or “To relieve of his post” and “Not to relieve of his post” shall be inscribed.
  2. With one ballot-paper it is only possible to vote on either the dismissal of one official or the declaration of non-confidence in a collective institution or one of its members, or the removal of an official from his post.
  3. On one ballot-paper it is only possible to write the surnames, in alphabetical order, of candidates to the same post.
  4. In all cases, ballot-papers must have a heading which clearly indicates the issue being voted upon.
  5. On the ballot-paper, the member casting his or her vote shall cross out the surname of the candidates against whom he or she is voting or the proposition which he or she does not accept.
  6. Ballot-papers which are not of the approved sample or without a seal, as well as ballot-papers on which more surnames than the number of officials being elected or more than one proposition given for election remains, shall be deemed invalid.
  7. Additional surnames and propositions which are written in shall not be counted.
  8. The record of calculation of votes by ballot-papers shall be signed by the chairman of the tellers’ group and the presiding officer.
  9. Voting ballot-papers shall be preserved in the Seimas archives until the end of the term of office of the Seimas.”

Thus, Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas establishes what ballot-papers must be used for secret and open voting in the Seimas (Paragraph 1) and what must be written in them (Paragraphs 2, 4 and 5), how one must vote by making the corresponding markings in the ballot-papers (Paragraph 6), how they are counted (Paragraphs 7–9), where and how much time the ballot-papers are preserved (Paragraph 10).

  1. Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas which is impugned by the petitioner establishes the way of marking in the ballot-paper which must be followed by the voting Member of the Seimas when he expresses his will. According to Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas, on the ballot-paper, the voter seeking to express his will shall cross out the surname of the candidates against whom he is voting or the proposition which he does not accept.
  2. While construing the provision of Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas together with Paragraph 1 of the same article which prescribes that a standard ballot-paper for secret and open voting shall be approved by the Seimas prior to voting, it needs to be noted that the Seimas must approve such a standard ballot-paper for secret or open voting so that the voter would have a possibility to cross out (in the ballot-paper) the surnames of the candidates against whom he votes, or propositions which are unacceptable to him.
  3. It needs to be noted that the Statute of the Seimas has been amended and/or supplemented more than once, however, the legal regulation impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue has not been amended.
  4. The legal regulation enshrined in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas is to be construed also in the context of other provisions of the Statute of the Seimas whereby one establishes the ways and procedure of voting.
  5. Paragraph 1 of Article 118 “Putting issues to the vote” of the Statute of the Seimas prescribes: “One proposition or two alternative propositions may be presented to be voted upon. In the first instance, the vote shall be taken ‘for’, ‘against’ or ‘abstain’. In the second instance, the vote shall be taken ‘for the first proposition’ or ‘for the second proposition’.”

Thus, Paragraph 1 of Article 118 of the Statute of the Seimas establishes how the issues to the vote for one proposition or two alternative propositions must be presented in the ballot-paper. It needs to be noted that in such cases when it is voted for one proposition, the voter is provided with several choices: to vote “for”, “against” or “abstain”. In such cases when it is voted regarding two alternative propositions, the voter must choose one of them.

  1. According to the legal regulation (which is impugned by the petitioner) enshrined in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas, if it is construed together with the legal regulation entrenched in Paragraph 1 of Article 118 of the Statute of the Seimas, in the cases when, in the Seimas, it is voted for one candidate or one proposition, a possibility must be created for the voter to vote for the nominated candidate or proposition, to vote against, or to abstain.

Thus, the legal regulation enshrined in Paragraphs 1 and 6 of Article 117 and Paragraph 1 of Article 118 of the Statute of the Seimas implies the duty for the Seimas to approve prior to the voting such a standard ballot-paper that in those cases when in the Seimas one votes for one candidate or one proposition, the possibility would be created to vote for the nominated candidate or proposition, against the nominated candidate or proposition, or to abstain, so that when expressing his will, the voter would have a possibility to choose and in the ballot-paper to cross out the choices which are unacceptable to him and leave the non-crossed out choice which is acceptable to him.

In this constitutional justice case it needs to be noted that even though, as it has been mentioned, the petitioner states that the voter who supports the nominated candidate does not have to cross out anything in the ballot-paper, he does not impugn the Seimas decision whereby one approved the standard ballot-paper. Therefore, the compliance of the corresponding decision of the Seimas, whereby a standard ballot-paper was approved, with the Constitution is not a matter of investigation in this constitutional justice case.

  1. Paragraph 6 of Article 115 “Secret balloting” (wordings of 10 October 2000 and 25 March 2010) of the Statute of the Seimas prescribes: “There must be a secret voting booth and ballot box in the voting place. The ballot box must be put in such a way that, upon approaching it, the members casting their votes would have to cross the secret voting booth.”
  2. Under the legal regulation (which is impugned by the petitioner) entrenched in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas, whereby it is prescribed that the voter crosses out the surname of the candidates against whom he is voting, or the propositions unacceptable to him, which is construed together with the legal regulation entrenched in Paragraph 6 of Article 115 (wordings of 10 October 2000 and 25 March 2010) of the Statute of the Seimas, in cases of secret voting, a possibility must be created for the voter who wishes to cross out in the ballot-paper the surnames of the candidates against whom he votes, or propositions which are unacceptable to him, to do so in a secret voting booth without going through which, under the legal regulation enshrined in Paragraph 6 of Article 115 (wordings of 10 October 2000 and 25 March 2010) of the Statute of the Seimas, he would not have a possibility to approach the ballot box.
  3. It has been mentioned that the petitioner requests to investigate whether Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas is not in conflict with Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  4. In the opinion of the petitioner, by means of the impugned legal regulation one creates preconditions to violate the imperative of secret ballot, unequal conditions to vote and to control the content of the ballot-paper of the voter are created for those who vote “for” and “against”, thus violating Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

It needs to be noted that, as it has been mentioned, the arguments provided by the group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, are linked to the application of the impugned legal regulation which is established in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas.

The Constitutional Court has held more than once that, under the Constitution and the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court does not decide the questions concerning application of legal acts, also that such questions are decided by the institution that has the powers to apply legal acts (Constitutional Court decisions of 23 September 2002, 13 November 2006, 12 September 2007 and 5 September 2011); if the laws contain obscurities, ambiguities, and gaps, it is the duty of the legislature to eliminate them (Constitutional Court decisions of 23 September 2002, 13 November 2006, 27 June 2007 and 12 September 2007).

  1. Article 1 of the Constitution prescribes: “The State of Lithuania shall be an independent democratic republic.”

The Constitutional Court has held that the fundamental principles of the State of Lithuania are established in this article of the Constitution, inter alia that the state power must be organised in a democratic way (Constitutional Court rulings of 23 February 2000, 18 October 2000, 6 December 2000 and 19 September 2002).

  1. The constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is a universal principle, upon which the entire legal system of Lithuania and the Constitution itself are based. The principle of a state under the rule of law which is enshrined in the Constitution implies, in addition to other requirements, that all institutions implementing state power as well as other state institutions must act on the grounds of law and in compliance with law (inter alia Constitutional Court rulings of 23 February 2000, 18 October 2000 and 14 December 2010).
  2. The provisions of Article 1 of the Constitution, as well as the principle of a state under the rule of law established in the Constitution, determine the main principles of organisation and activities of state power of the State of Lithuania (Constitutional Court rulings of 18 October 2000, 25 January 2001 and 29 March 2012).
  3. Under Article 76 of the Constitution, the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas, one of the state institutions, is established by the Statute of the Seimas, which has the power of law. The Constitutional Court has held that a blanket norm is set down in this article of the Constitution which permits the Seimas to establish its structure, procedure of its activities, procedures for presentation of draft laws and other draft legal acts, their deliberation and adoption, the competence of other structural sub-units of the Seimas and to regulate the other issues of functioning of the Seimas (Constitutional Court ruling of 30 March 2000). Thus, the discretion of the Seimas in this sphere is enshrined in the Constitution; alongside, it needs to be noted that the Seimas, establishing its structure and procedure of activities, may not violate the principles and norms of the Constitution (Constitutional Court ruling of 25 January 2001).
  4. It has been mentioned that Paragraph 6 (which is impugned by the petitioner) of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the way of marking in the ballot-paper which must be followed by the voting Member of the Seimas when he expresses his will. Therefore, in this provision, the Seimas, enjoying the discretion to establish its procedure of activities provided to it by the Constitution, prescribed how the choice of the voting Member of the Seimas has to be marked in the ballot-paper.

It has also been mentioned that, under Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas, which is construed with other provisions of the Statute of the Seimas, in the cases when in the Seimas one votes for one candidate or one proposition, the possibility must be created for the voter, who wants to express his will, to cross out the choices which are unacceptable to him and leave the non-crossed out choice which is acceptable to him; in the cases of secret ballot a possibility must be created for the voter to perform the actions specified in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas in a secret voting booth without going through which, under the legal regulation entrenched in Paragraph 6 of Article 115 of the Statute of the Seimas, he would not have a possibility to approach the ballot box.

  1. Thus, it needs to be held that by means of Paragraph 6 (impugned by the petitioner) of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas, which is construed together with other provisions of the Statute of the Seimas, one creates legal preconditions to ensure the secrecy of the voting in the case when a decision is adopted in the Seimas by secret ballot. Consequently, there is no ground to state that by means of the legal regulation established in Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas, one creates preconditions to control the will of the voter.
  2. Taking account of the arguments set forth, one is to draw a conclusion that Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas is not in conflict with Article 1 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

On the compliance of Seimas Resolution No. XI-1 “On Electing A. Valinskas as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” of 17 November 2008 with Article 1, Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of Article 7, Paragraph 4 of Article 59 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with Paragraph 6 of Article 115, Paragraph 3 of Article 136 and Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas.

  1. The group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requests to investigate whether Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008, in view of the procedure of its adoption, is not in conflict with Article 1, Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of Article 7, Paragraph 4 of Article 59 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with Paragraph 6 of Article 115, Paragraph 3 of Article 136 and Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas.
  2. On 17 November 2008, the Seimas adopted Resolution No. XI-1 (it came into force on the same day) which prescribed:

“The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 187 and 190 of the Statute of the Seimas, decides:

Article 1. To elect Member of the Seimas Arūnas VALINSKAS as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 2. The resolution shall come into force as from its adoption.”

It needs to be noted that Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008 is a legal act of individual character of one-time (ad hoc) application. Upon the adoption of this Seimas resolution and its application, one created concrete legal relations—the Member of the Seimas Arūnas Valinskas became the Speaker of the Seimas.

It needs also to be noted that the relations of speakership of the Seimas are regulated already by other legal acts, inter alia the corresponding provisions of the Statute of the Seimas which are not a matter of investigation in this constitutional justice case.

  1. Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008 impugned by the group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, is to be construed in the context of other legal acts linked to it.

3.1. On 15 September 2009, the Seimas adopted Resolution No. XI-413 “On the Dismissal of Arūnas Valinskas from the Office of the Speaker of the Seimas” (which came into force on the same day) (hereinafter referred to as Seimas resolution No. XI-413 of 15 September 2009) which prescribed:

“The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, taking account of the proposal of the group of Members of the Seimas to dismiss Arūnas Valinskas from the office of the Speaker of the Seimas and pursuant to Article 218 of the Statute of the Seimas, decides:

Article 1.

To dismiss Arūnas VALINSKAS from the office of the Speaker of the Seimas.

Article 2.

The resolution shall come into force as from its adoption.”

It needs to be noted that Seimas resolution No. XI-413 of 15 September 2009 is also a legal act of individual character of one-time application upon the adoption of which A. Valinskas lost the office of the Speaker of the Seimas.

Thus, upon the adoption of Seimas resolution No. XI-413 of 15 September 2009, the legal relations created by Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008, which is impugned by the petitioner, came to an end—from the day of adoption of Seimas resolution No. XI-413 of 15 September 2009 A. Valinskas lost the office of the Speaker of the Seimas.

3.2. On 17 September 2009, the Seimas adopted Resolution No. XI-416 “On Electing I. Degutienė as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” (which came into force on the same day) (hereinafter referred to Seimas resolution No. XI-416 of 17 September 2009) whereby the Member of the Seimas Irena Degutienė was elected as the Speaker of the Seimas.

3.3. While summing it up, it needs to be noted that, upon the adoption of Seimas resolution No. XI-413 of 15 September 2009 and Resolution No. XI-416 of 17 September 2009, the legal relations which had appeared on the basis of Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008, whereby A. Valinskas had been elected as the Speaker of the Seimas, came to an end.

3.4. Thus, it needs to be held that, upon the adoption of Seimas resolution No. XI-413 of 15 September 2009, Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008 of the Seimas, which is impugned by the petitioner, may no longer be applied and in this aspect its validity has terminated.

  1. Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides that the annulment of the impugned legal act shall be grounds to adopt a decision to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings.

In its acts the Constitutional Court has held more than once that the formula “shall be the grounds <...> to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings” of Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court is to be construed as establishing the powers of the Constitutional Court, in cases, when not courts, but other subjects specified in Article 106 of the Constitution apply to the Constitutional Court, and the impugned legal act (part thereof) is no longer effective—it is recognised as no longer valid (annulled or amended) or its validity has terminated, to dismiss the instituted legal proceedings upon taking account of the circumstances of the case at issue (inter alia rulings of 4 March 2003, 28 March 2006, 21 September 2006, 22 June 2009, 31 March 2010 and 28 May 2010).

  1. As it has been mentioned, a group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting to investigate the lawfulness of Seimas resolution No. XI-1 of 17 November 2008.
  2. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the part of this constitutional justice case subsequent to the petition of the group of Members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requesting to investigate whether Seimas Resolution No. XI-1 “On Electing A. Valinskas as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” of 17 November 2008, in view of the procedure of its adoption, is not in conflict with Article 1, Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of Article 7, Paragraph 4 of Article 59 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with Paragraph 6 of Article 115, Paragraph 3 of Article 136 and Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas, is to be dismissed.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 54, 55, 56 and 69 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has passed the following

ruling:

  1. To recognise that Paragraph 6 of Article 117 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (wording of 22 December 1998, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1999, No. 5-97) is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
  2. To dismiss the part of the case subsequent to the petition of the group of Members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting to investigate whether Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania No. XI-1 “On Electing A. Valinskas as the Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania” of 17 November 2008 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2008, No. 133-5109), in view of the procedure of its adoption, is not in conflict with Article 1, Paragraph 2 of Article 5, Paragraph 1 of Article 7, Paragraph 4 of Article 59 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and with Paragraph 6 of Article 115, Paragraph 3 of Article 136 and Paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

The ruling is promulgated in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                         Egidijus Bieliūnas

                                                                                             Toma Birmontienė

                                                                                             Pranas Kuconis

                                                                                             Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                             Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                             Egidijus Šileikis

                                                                                             Algirdas Taminskas

                                                                                             Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

                                                                                             Dainius Žalimas