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On refusing to interpret the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 June 2009

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
DECISION

ON THE PETITION OF ROBERTAS KLOVAS, CHANCELLOR OF THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, REQUESTING TO CONSTRUE THE RULING OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA OF 22 JUNE 2009

22 December 2010
Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court Armanas Abramavičius, Toma Birmontienė, Pranas Kuconis, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, and Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis,

with the secretary—Daiva Pitrėnaitė,

in a procedural sitting of the Constitutional Court considered the petition of the Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania Robertas Klovas, the petitioner, requesting “to construe the ruling of the Constitutional Court of 22 June 2009, to the extent to which the Constitutional Court held that Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Forests (wording of 10 April 2001), to the extent that it does not establish the cases of converting forest land into other landed property which are to be considered as exceptional cases, and/or that it does not establish any criteria for determining such cases, is in conflict with Articles 23 and 54 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and namely—whether after the entry into force of the said Constitutional Court ruling one may commence, carry out and/or accomplish the procedures of drafting documents on territorial planning (issue the conditions for planning, approve the conceptions, carry out coordination, etc.) that are related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property. In addition, whether one may commence, carry out and/or accomplish any other actions/processes/procedures that are related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property”.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

1. On 22 June 2009, in constitutional justice case No. 16/07-17/07-20/08 the Constitutional Court adopted the Ruling “On the compliance of Paragraph 6 (wording of 8 June 2006) of Article 22 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Territorial Planning (wording of 15 January 2004) with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, on the compliance of Item 7.2 (wording of 15 January 2007) of the Schedule of the Procedure for Transfer of Rights and Obligations of the Organiser of Detailed Planning of Territories as well as Conclusion of Contracts, as approved by Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania No. 635 ‘On the Approval of the Schedule of the Procedure for Transfer of Rights and Obligations of the Organiser of Detailed Planning of Territories as well as Conclusion of Contracts’ of 26 May 2004, with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as with provisions of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Territorial Planning and the Republic of Lithuania Law on Forests, and on the compliance of Item 7.4 of the Procedure for Converting Forest Land into Other Landed Property, as approved by Item 1 of Resolution of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania No. 641 ‘On the Approval of the Procedure for Converting Forest Land into Other Landed Property’, with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as provisions of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Forests and the Republic of Lithuania Law on Territorial Planning” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2009, No. 75-3074; hereinafter also referred to as the Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009).

2. The Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009 inter alia recognised that:

Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Law on Forests (wording of 10 April 2001), to the extent that it does not establish the cases of converting forest land into other landed property which are to be considered as exceptional cases, and/or that it does not establish any criteria for determining such cases, is in conflict with Articles 23 and 54 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

Item 7.4 (wording of 9 may 2002) of the Procedure for Converting Forest Land into Other Landed Property, as approved by Item 1 of Resolution of the Government No. 641 “On the Approval of the Procedure for Converting Forest Land into Other Landed Property” of 9 May 2002, was in conflict with Articles 23 and 54 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

Paragraph 6 (wording of 8 June 2006) of Article 22 of the Law on Territorial Planning (wording of 15 January 2004 with subsequent amendments and supplements), to the extent that it does not establish that detailed plans under which the main targeted purpose of land utilisation is converted from forestry land into land for other purposes—construction of buildings—are drafted where such conversion is provided for in general plans as well as in special plans of a municipality or part thereof, is not in conflict with the Constitution;

Item 7.2 (wording of 15 January 2007) of the Schedule of the Procedure for Transfer of Rights and Obligations of the Organiser of Detailed Planning of Territories as well as Conclusion of Contracts, as approved by Resolution of the Government No. 635 “On the Approval of the Schedule of the Procedure for Transfer of Rights and Obligations of the Organiser of Detailed Planning of Territories as well as Conclusion of Contracts” of 26 May 2004, to the extent that it does not establish that the rights and obligations of the organiser of detailed territorial planning may be transferred and the contract may be concluded, as well as the main targeted purpose of land utilisation may be converted from forestry land into land for other purposes—construction of buildings—where such conversion is provided for in general plans as well as in special plans of a municipality or part thereof, is not in conflict with the Constitution and the provision “Detailed plans may not be drafted in the event that the objectives of planning are in conflict with the requirements of laws and other legal acts” of Paragraph 4 (wording of 8 June 2006) of Article 24 of the Law on Territorial Planning (wording of 15 January 2004 with subsequent amendments and supplements).

3. The Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment Robertas Klovas, the petitioner, requests “to construe the ruling of the Constitutional Court of 22 June 2009, to the extent to which the Constitutional Court held that Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Forests (wording of 10 April 2001), to the extent that it does not establish the cases of converting forest land into other landed property which are to be considered as exceptional cases, and/or that it does not establish any criteria for determining such cases, is in conflict with Articles 23 and 54 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and namely—whether after the entry into force of the said Constitutional Court ruling one may commence, carry out and/or accomplish the procedures of drafting documents on territorial planning (issue the conditions for planning, approve the conceptions, carry out coordination, etc.) that are related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property. In addition, whether one may commence, carry out and/or accomplish any other actions/processes/procedures that are related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property”.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The powers of the Constitutional Court to officially construe its own rulings are entrenched in the Law on the Constitutional Court (Article 61). The Constitutional Court has held in its acts more than once that it enjoys the powers to construe its other final acts as well.

2. Paragraph 1 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court provides that a ruling of the Constitutional Court may be officially construed by the Constitutional Court at the request of the parties to the case, of other institutions or persons to whom it was sent, or on its own initiative.

3. The petition to construe the Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009 was submitted by Robertas Klovas, Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Constitutional Court may officially construe its ruling at the request of the parties to the case, of other institutions or persons to whom it was sent, or on its own initiative.

R. Klovas, while holding the office of the Director of the Legal and Personnel Department of the Ministry of Environment, was a representative of the Government, a party concerned, in the constitutional justice case wherein the Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009 was adopted (the ruling was sent to R. Klovas pursuant to the Constitutional Court letter No. 14B-464(2.4.) of 22 June 2009.) Since under Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, a representative of the Government, a party concerned, is a party to the case, therefore, according to Paragraph 1 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, he has the right to apply to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting to construe the said ruling of the Constitutional Court.

4. In its acts the Constitutional Court has held more than once that the purpose of the institute of construction of Constitutional Court rulings and other final acts is to disclose the contents and meaning of corresponding provisions of a Constitutional Court ruling or other final act more broadly and in more detail, if it is necessary, in order to ensure proper execution of that Constitutional Court ruling or other final act so that this Constitutional Court ruling or other final act would be followed.

II

1. The Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment Robertas Klovas, the petitioner, requests “to construe the ruling of the Constitutional Court of 22 June 2009, to the extent to which the Constitutional Court held that Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on Forests (wording of 10 April 2001), to the extent that it does not establish the cases of converting forest land into other landed property which are to be considered as exceptional cases, and/or that it does not establish any criteria for determining such cases, is in conflict with Articles 23 and 54 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and namely—whether after the entry into force of the said Constitutional Court ruling one may commence, carry out and/or accomplish the procedures of drafting documents on territorial planning (issue the conditions for planning, approve the conceptions, carry out coordination, etc.) that are related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property. In addition, whether one may commence, carry out and/or accomplish any other actions/processes/procedures that are related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property”.

2. In the petition it is inter alia indicated: “Currently the Ministry of Environment is receiving a large number of requests from municipal institutions as well as private persons to construe the Constitutional Court ruling, to the extent to which the Constitutional Court has recognised Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Law on Forests to be in conflict with the Constitution. In the opinion of the applicants, the conclusion of the Constitutional Court that Paragraph 1 of Article 11 of the Law on Forests, to the extent that it does not establish the cases of converting forest land into other landed property which are to be considered as exceptional cases, and/or that it does not establish any criteria for determining such cases, is in conflict with the Constitution does not mean that forest land may not, on the whole, be converted into other landed property. According to the applicants, this means that after the entry into force of the Constitutional Court ruling one may carry out the procedures of drafting documents on territorial planning by means of which one seeks to convert forest land into other landed property or to convert forestry land into land for other purposes, i.e. issue the conditions for planning, approve the concepts of a detailed plan, coordinate territorial planning documents, etc., however, the document itself may not be validated until the Draft Law on Amending the Law on Forests is adopted. In other words, the applicants believe that the Constitutional Court ruling does not preclude the possibility of carrying out the planning procedures by means of which one seeks to convert forest land into other landed property or to convert the purpose of land utilisation from forestry land into land for other purposes, however, one will be allowed to validate such drafted documents only after the entry into force of the amendments of the Law on Forests providing for the cases of converting forest land into other landed property.”

3. Thus, the petition of the Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment R. Klovas, the petitioner, is to be treated as the one requesting to construe as to how, after the entry into force of the Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009, one must apply the legal acts regulating the procedures related with conversion of the main purpose of utilisation of forest land or conversion of forest landed property (issuance of the conditions for planning, approval of the concept, carrying out coordination, etc.). Such a request virtually means that one is requesting to construe not the provisions of the Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009, but the questions of application of legal acts.

4. Under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court does not decide issues of application of legal acts; such issues are decided by the institution that enjoys powers to apply legal acts; 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, 20 November 2006, 27 June 2007 and 16 November 2010). The petitions requesting to construe as to how the provisions of a law (other legal act) are to be applied are not within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court (Constitutional Court decisions of 23 September 2002, 20 November 2006 and 16 November 2010).

5. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the Constitutional Court will not construe, subsequent to the petition of the Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment R. Klovas, the Constitutional Court ruling of 22 June 2009.

Conforming to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has passed the following

decision:

To refuse to construe, subsequent to the petition of R. Klovas, Chancellor of the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania, the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania of 22 June 2009.

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

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

Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius
                                                                      Toma Birmontienė
                                                                      Pranas Kuconis
                                                                      Kęstutis Lapinskas
                                                                      Zenonas Namavičius
                                                                      Egidijus Šileikis
                                                                      Algirdas Taminskas
                                                                      Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis