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On the right of Seimas members to receive an extra remuneration

Case No. 15/98

 

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF

THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

R U L I N G

 

On the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Working Conditions of Members of the Seimas with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania

 

Vilnius, 9 November 1999

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Egidijus Jarašiūnas, Egidijus Kūris, Zigmas Levickis, Augustinas Normantas, Vladas Pavilonis, Jonas Prapiestis, Vytautas Sinkevičius, Stasys Stačiokas, and Teodora Staugaitienė

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Seimas member Rimantas Smetona, acting as the representative of a group of Seimas members, the petitioner

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 27 October 1999, in its public hearing, considered case No. 15/98 subsequent to the petition submitted to the Court by a group of Seimas members, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Working Conditions of Members of the Seimas was in compliance with Articles 59 and 60 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

On 26 March 1998, the Seimas adopted the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Working Conditions of Members of the Seimas (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1996, No. 71-1710; 1998, No. 34-900; hereinafter referred to as the Law), Paragraph 1 of Article 13 whereof provides: “Every Seimas member shall be paid a monthly basic remuneration of the prior month of the triple size average work remuneration (AWR) in the Lithuanian economy which is publicised by the Statistics Department under the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, and every Seimas member who is appointed Prime Minister or a minister shall be paid the remuneration of the size of one AWR.”

A group of Seimas members have applied to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting an investigation into whether Article 13 of the Law was in compliance with Articles 59 and 60 of the Constitution.

II

The request of the petitioner is based on the following arguments.

Article 13 of the Law provides that every Seimas member who is appointed Prime Minister or a minister shall be paid a monthly remuneration of the size of one average work remuneration (AWR), while other Seimas members shall be paid the remuneration of the triple size of AWR. Under Article 13 of the Law on the Government, the remuneration of the Prime Minister and other ministers is established regardless of the fact whether they are Seimas members or not. Thus, the Seimas member who is appointed Prime Minister or a minister receives two remunerations: that of a member of the Government and a reduced one of the Seimas member.

The petitioner points out that by Article 60 of the Constitution a Seimas member may be appointed only as Prime Minister or a minister. It is also established in the same article that “a Seimas member may not receive any other remuneration, with the exception of remuneration for creative activities”. The remuneration of a Seimas member for the work of Prime Minister or that of a minister should not be deemed to be remuneration for creative activities. In the opinion of the petitioner, the provision of Article 13 of the Law concerning the double remuneration of the Seimas members who are members of the Government contradicts Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution.

The petitioner maintains that Article 13 of the Law also contradicts the principle of equality of Seimas members which is established in Article 59 of the Constitution wherein it is provided: “In office, Seimas members shall act in accordance with 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.” Thus, all Seimas members ought to receive the same remuneration, while on the grounds of the impugned provision of Article 13 of the Law the remuneration of some Seimas members is decreased three times.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the judicial investigation the representative of the party concerned R. Kalkys, a senior consultant to the Seimas Public Administration Reforms and Municipal Affairs Committee, presented to the Constitutional Court hearing the following explanations in writing.

Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law is in compliance with Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution prohibiting a Seimas member from receiving any other remuneration, with the exception of remuneration for creative activities. The assertion of the petitioner that the Seimas member who is appointed Prime Minister or a minister receives two remunerations may be based not on Article 13 of the Law, but on Article 13 of the Law on the Government wherein the remuneration of members of the Government is established irrespective of whether they are Seimas members or not.

According to the representative of the party concerned, the provision of Article 13 of the Law under which a Seimas member who is appointed Prime Minister or a minister shall be paid a monthly remuneration of the size of one AWR is in compliance with Article 59 of the Constitution. The provision of this article that “in office, Seimas members shall act in accordance with 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” is not linked with Article 13 of the Law.

IV

In the course of the preparation of the case for the judicial investigation explanations by S. Kaktys, Minister of Administration Reforms and Municipal Affairs, R. Ruškytė, Head of the Division of Legal Affairs and Law and Order of the Chancery of the Government, J. Aleksaitė, Director of the Law Department of the Ministry of Justice, Assoc. Prof. Dr. T. Birmontienė, Director of the Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights, as well as the specialists Prof. Dr. I. Nekrošius, Head of the Labour Law Department of the Law Faculty of Vilnius University, Dr. E. Šileikis who works as a senior assistant at the Department of State Law of the same faculty of Vilnius University, were received wherein it is maintained that Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law is in compliance with the Constitution.

V

In the Constitutional Court hearing the representative of the petitioner R. Smetona virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in the petition and particularised them.

The specialists Prof. Dr. I. Nekrošius and Dr. E. Šileikis virtually reiterated the explanations presented in writing.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

1. According to the petitioner, Article 13 of the Law contradicts Articles 59 and 60 of the Constitution.

Taking account of the arguments set down in the request of the petitioner, the Constitutional Court will investigate the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law with Paragraph 4 of Article 59 and Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution.

2. In the opinion of the petitioner, Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law by which a Seimas member who is appointed Prime Minister or a minister receives the remuneration of a member of the Government along with the remuneration of a Seimas member the size of which is one AWR contradicts Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution which provides that the service of a Seimas member shall be remunerated, and all expenses incurred from parliamentary activities shall be reimbursed with funds from the state budget and that a Seimas member may not receive any other remuneration, with the exception of remuneration for creative activities.

3. Members of the Seimas are representatives of the Nation through whom the Nation implement their supreme sovereign power (Paragraph 1 of Article 55 and Article 4 of the Constitution). Seimas members will only be capable of performing the functions of the representatives of the Nation properly when they are free and independent. One of the main guarantees of free and independent activity of a Seimas member is the fact that under Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution the services of a Seimas member and all expenses incurred from parliamentary activities shall be reimbursed with funds from the state budget. The same article also provides that a Seimas member may not receive any other remuneration, with the exception of remuneration for creative activities. These constitutional provisions imply that the remuneration of a Seimas member must be of a sufficient size, paid regularly, as well as that it is not permitted that during the term of office of the Seimas the remuneration of a Seimas member is decreased from what it was at the beginning of the Seimas’ term of office by establishing it by law. Such constitutional regulation of the remuneration of a Seimas member is established so that a Seimas member might properly perform his duties as a representative of the Nation.

4. As mentioned, the petitioner grounds his doubts as regards the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law with the Constitution on the provision of Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution that a Seimas member may not receive any other remuneration, with the exception of remuneration for creative activities.

It needs to be noted that the bases for the establishment of the remuneration of a Seimas member are set down not only in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution, but also in other paragraphs of this article as well. In the case at issue it is also important to establish the relation between the norms of Articles 60 and 99 of the Constitution.

In the legal theory various methods of interpretation of law are known: linguistic, systematic, historical, comparative etc. The Constitutional Court has noted many a time that in the course of disclosure of the content of legal norms, as a rule, the application of the linguistic method is not enough. The Constitution is an integral act (Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution). The norms laid down in the Constitution are harmonised with one another and constitute a whole. Therefore, deciding whether the impugned norm of Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law is in compliance with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court will apply the systematic method of interpretation, too.

5. Article 60 of the Constitution provides:

The duties of Seimas members, with the exception of their duties in the Seimas, shall be incompatible with any other duties in State institutions or organisations, as well as with work in trade, commercial and other private institutions or enterprises. For term of office, Seimas members shall be exempt from the duty to perform national defence service.

A Seimas member may be appointed only as Prime Minister or a Minister.

The service of a Seimas member shall be remunerated, and all expenses incurred from parliamentary activities shall be reimbursed with funds from the State budget. A Seimas member may not receive any other remuneration, with the exception of remuneration for creative activities.

The duties, rights and guarantees of the activities of Seimas members shall be established by law.”

Thus, it is established in Paragraph 1 of Article 60 that Seimas members are prohibited from holding any other office in State institutions or organisations, as well as working in trade, commercial and other private institutions or enterprises. Paragraph 2 of the said article provides for an exception to the limitations established in Paragraph 1 thereof: a Seimas member may be appointed only as Prime Minister or a minister. The norm worded in Paragraph 2 of Article 60 of the Constitution is a special norm in respect with the common norm formulated in Paragraph 1 of this article.

The constitutional right of a Seimas member to work as Prime Minister or a minister implies the right to receive remuneration for this work. This is confirmed by Article 99 of the Constitution wherein it is established that the Prime Minister and ministers receive remuneration for their work in the Government. Paragraph 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution provides that the guarantees of the activities of Seimas members, consequently, their remuneration as well, shall be established by law.

Assessing the relation of Paragraphs 1, 2 and the other paragraphs of Article 60 of the Constitution systematically, as well as the relation of this article with Article 99 of the Constitution, the conclusion should be drawn that for the Seimas member who is appointed either Prime Minister or a minister a different remuneration may be established for his activities as a Seimas member.

The Seimas, under the Constitution enjoying discretion to establish by law a different remuneration to the Seimas member appointed Prime Minister or a minister for his work as a Seimas member from that paid to the other Seimas members, is bound by the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law. Thus, in this case, too, the remuneration of a Seimas member must be of a sufficient size so that the Seimas member might perform his duty as a representative of the Nation.

Thus, Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law by which the remuneration for the activity of Seimas member to the Seimas member appointed Prime Minister or a minister is different from that paid to the other Seimas members is in compliance with Article 60 of the Constitution.

6. The petitioner is of the opinion that the principle of equality of all Seimas members is established in Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution, therefore, all Seimas members ought to receive the same remuneration for their work. On the grounds of this constitutional provision, the petitioner maintains that the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law by which the Seimas member appointed Prime Minister or a minister receives the remuneration whose size is three times smaller than that paid to the other Seimas members contradicts Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution.

Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution reads: “In office, Seimas members shall act in accordance with 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.” In this constitutional provision a free mandate of a Seimas member is established. The essence of a free mandate lies in the freedom of a representative of the Nation to implement the rights and duties vested in him without restricting this freedom by any mandates, political requirements of parties and organisations that nominated him, and without recognising the right to revoke a Seimas member. This means that an imperative mandate is not recognised by the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 26 November 1993). Thus, the purpose of Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution is the consolidation of the free mandate of a Seimas member as one of the guarantees of independence and equality of rights of Seimas members.

The equality of rights of Seimas members derives from the whole-complex of the articles of the Constitution: Article 55 provides that Seimas members are representatives of the Nation; Article 62 provides for the same immunity of Seimas members; Article 63 provides for the same bases for termination of the powers of Seimas members; Article 69 establishes that all Seimas members are equal when they adopt laws. The equality of rights of Seimas members is also established in the other articles of the Constitution.

As noted above, one of the main guarantees of activity of a Seimas member is the fact that under Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution the services of a Seimas member and all expenses incurred from parliamentary activities shall be reimbursed with funds from the state budget. This is one of the guarantees of the independence and equality of rights of Seimas members. The Constitution does not contain any legal norms under which for all Seimas members an equal remuneration must be established regardless of the fact that a Seimas member may hold certain office at the Seimas or at the Government. Under Paragraphs 1, 2 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution, the Seimas enjoys the discretion to establish a different remuneration for work of a Seimas member regarding those Seimas members who are appointed Prime Minister or a minister from that of the other Seimas members. A different remuneration may also be established to the Seimas members who hold an office in the Seimas provided for by the Statute of the Seimas.

After Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law has provided that the Seimas member appointed Prime Minister or a minister shall be paid a monthly remuneration the size of which is one average work remuneration, the principle of the free mandate of a Seimas member established in Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution and the equality or rights of Seimas members are not violated.

Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Law is in compliance with Paragraph 4 of Article 59 of the Constitution.

Conforming to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 53, 54, 55 and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

To recognise that Paragraph 1 of Article 13 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Working Conditions of Members of the Seimas is in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

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

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

Justices of the Constitutional Court:

Egidijus Jarašiūnas     Egidijus Kūris      Zigmas Levickis

Augustinas Normantas     Vladas Pavilonis      Jonas Prapiestis

Vytautas Sinkevičius      Stasys Stačiokas      Teodora Staugaitienė