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On the decree of the President of the Republic proposing to institute impeachment

Case No. 17/04

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF PARAGRAPH 1 OF ARTICLE 230 OF THE STATUTE OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA AND THE DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 397) “ON THE PROPOSAL TO INSTITUTE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST THE MEMBER OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA ARTŪRAS PAULAUSKAS” OF 12 MARCH 2004 WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

15 April 2004

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius, Egidijus Jarašiūnas, Egidijus Kūris, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Augustinas Normantas, Jonas Prapiestis, Vytautas Sinkevičius, and Stasys Stačiokas

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, and Girius Ivoška, a senior consultant to the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, acting as the representatives of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, 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 13 April 2004, in its public hearing, considered case No. 17/04 subsequent to the petition set forth in the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania with the Petition Requesting an Investigation into Whether the Decree of the President of the Republic ‘On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas’ Is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 16 March 2004 requesting an investigation into whether the said decree is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and whether Article 4 of the said decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

1. On 12 March 2004, the President of the Republic issued the Decree (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2004, No. 40-1303), whereby he proposed that impeachment proceedings be instituted against the member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas.

2. On 16 March 2004, the Seimas adopted the Resolution (No. IX-2062) “On the Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania with the Petition Requesting an Investigation into Whether the Decree of the President of the Republic ‘On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas’ Is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2004, No. 41-1325), in which it requests the Constitutional Court to investigate whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and whether Article 4 of the same decree is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution.

II

The petition of the Seimas is grounded on these arguments.

1. On 19 February 2004, the Seimas adopted the Resolution (No. IX-2038) “On the Beginning of the Impeachment Proceedings Against the President of the Republic Rolandas Paksas”, whereby in the Seimas impeachment proceedings were commenced against the President of the Republic himself.

The petitioner doubts whether the President of the Republic, by proposing by his decree to institute impeachment proceedings against the member of the Seimas Artūras Paulauskas, who is also the Speaker of the Seimas, seeks to attain the purposes which are designed by impeachment proceedings, i.e. to revoke the mandate of a member of the Seimas who has grossly violated the Constitution or breached the oath of the member of the Seimas, which are indicated in the text of the decree of the President of the Republic. In the opinion of the petitioner, the President of the Republic, while issuing the impugned decree, attempted to destabilise the situation in the state and the parliament, and manipulated the powers granted to him by the Constitution and laws.

2. Article 4 of the impugned decree of the President of the Republic indicates that “this Decree shall come into force as of the day of its signing”.

Official publication of laws, while keeping to the procedure established in the Constitution and laws, is a necessary condition not only for the laws to become valid, but also for the purpose that subjects of legal relations might know what laws are valid, what their content is, and that they might follow them. In a democratic state under the rule of law, there may not be any unpublished laws. The notion “published” employed in Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution also means that laws must be published publicly. The constitutional requirement that only laws which are published are valid is an important precondition of legal certainty. This constitutional requirement is inseparable from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. In Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle is reflected that law cannot be non-public. Only the legal acts that were published while paying heed to the requirements of the official and public publishing of legal act, which are entrenched in the Constitution, may be recognised as being in compliance with the requirements of Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution, thus, as being valid. The petitioner maintains that Article 4 of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is entrenched in the Constitution, and Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution, which provides that “only laws which are published shall be valid”.

III

In its 22 March 2002 Decision “On Accepting a Petition of the Petitioner”, the Constitutional Court held that the petition set forth in the Seimas Resolution “On the Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania with the Petition Requesting an Investigation into Whether the Decree of the President of the Republic ‘On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas’ Is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 16 March 2004 was grounded upon legal arguments. In the same decision the Constitutional Court also noted that non-legal arguments were presented in the petition as well.

IV

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from the representatives of the Seimas, the petitioner, who were V. P. Andriukaitis, a member of the Seimas, and G. Ivoška, a senior consultant to the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas.

1. It is asserted in the explanations that in the course of the implementation of the striving for an open, just, harmonious civil society and state under the rule of law, one must ensure the balance of interests, evade fortuity and arbitrariness. It is impossible to strive for a state under the rule of law and justice by recognising the interests of only one group or a single person. At the junction of constitutional values one must find solutions, by making sure that not a single of such values would be denied, otherwise, the balance of constitutional values would be disturbed. The representatives of the petitioner emphasised that the President of the Republic is a subject who cannot be an initiator of a proposal to institute impeachment proceedings and an impeached person at the same time. The President of the Republic is the Head of State. He may not adopt any such decisions by which the interests of a single person would be satisfied, by setting them off against the interests of a group of persons, etc. The impugned decree gives priority to private interests, but not those of the state and the Nation, since, after the impeachment proceedings had been commenced, by means of a Seimas resolution, against the President of the Republic R. Paksas himself, on the grounds that he had discredited the authority of the institution of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the President of the Republic R. Paksas proposed that impeachment proceedings be commenced against the member of the Seimas A. Paulauskas, on the grounds that the latter discredited the authority of the institution of the President of the Republic.

2. The representatives of the petitioner also pointed out that law may not be non-public. The constitutional requirement that only the laws which are published shall be valid is an important precondition of legal certainty, it is inseparable from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. Only the legal acts which have been published while paying heed to the requirements of the publicity of the publishing of legal acts, which are entrenched in the Constitution, can be recognised as being in compliance with the Constitution, thus, as valid also. Therefore, in the opinion of the representatives of the petitioner, the entry of a decree of the President of the Republic into effect may not be limited by a calendar date or event, which, in the sequence of time, would take place prior to the publishing of the decree of the President of the Republic in the official gazette “Valstybės žinios”.

V

By his Ordinance (No. 128) “On the Empowering for Representation of the President of the Republic at the Constitutional Court” of 31 March 2004, the President of the Republic R. Paksas empowered Liutauras Ulevičius, an advisor to the President of the Republic, and Jurius Petreikis, a consultant to the President of the Republic, to represent the President of the Republic at the Constitutional Court.

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from the representatives of the President of the Republic who were Liutauras Ulevičius, an advisor to the President of the Republic, and Jurius Petreikis, a consultant to the President of the Republic.

1. It is maintained in the explanations that the Statute of the Seimas provides for the grounds of impeachment proceedings, as well as the persons who have the right of initiative to institute impeachment proceedings. In the opinion of the representatives of the party concerned, impeachment proceedings in regard of the subjects indicated in the Statute of the Seimas are, first of all, a form of implementation of constitutional liability. The activity of the President of the Republic is grounded upon the norms of public law, in which the imperative method prevails. The legal norms regulating impeachment proceedings do not provide for any grounds and cases limiting the right of the President of the Republic to propose to institute impeachment proceedings.

In their explanations the representatives of the party concerned point out that the statement that by initiating the impeachment proceedings against the member of the Seimas Artūras Paulauskas the President of the Republic seeks to destabilise the situation in the state denies the right itself of the President of the Republic to propose to institute impeachment proceedings—one of the elements of a state under the rule of law. L. Ulevičius and J. Petreikis maintain that this right may not be assessed as an attempt to misbalance the balance of interests, since such a right guaranteed by public law provides for an opportunity to bar the way to possible violations of the Constitution and the laws which imply such balance. The President of the Republic had neither a purpose nor a theoretical opportunity “to destabilise the situation in the state and the parliament”, because only the Seimas itself may accomplish the impeachment. In the opinion of the representatives of the party concerned, the impugned decree is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law that is entrenched in the Constitution.

2. In their explanations, the representatives of the party concerned also assert that in the constitutional jurisprudence the notion “published” of Article 7 of the Constitution is interpreted as meaning that laws must be published publicly, that law may not be non-public. Article 3 of the Republic of Lithuania Law “On the Procedure of Publishing and Entry of Laws and Other Legal Acts of the Republic of Lithuania into Effect” provides that decrees of the President of the Republic must be published in the official gazette “Valstybės žinios”, while under Article 8 of the same law they shall go into effect on the next day after they are published in the official gazette “Valstybės žinios” provided a different day of entry into effect is not indicated in the decrees themselves. In the opinion of the representatives of the party concerned, this provision of the law permits establishing the moment of entry into force of the decrees by assessing the nature of each particular decree. In cases when the basis of the beginning of legal relations is certain juridical facts, it is expedient and rational to link the moment of the entry into effect of the legal act with the moment of its signing. The impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not a normative legal act but an act of application of law, the beginning of the validity whereof is considered its entry into effect as from the moment of the signing of this legal act. According to the representatives of the party concerned, a possibility of the entry into effect of decrees of the President of the Republic may not be related only with the date of their publishing, or provision that their entry into effect is postponed until later. Therefore, the representatives of the party concerned believe that Article 4 of the impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution.

3. On 8 April 2004, the Acting President of the Republic of Lithuania A. Paulauskas issued the Ordinance (No. 3) “On the 31 March 2004 Ordinance (No. 128) of the President of the Republic” whereby it recognised the 31 March 2004 ordinance (No. 128) of the President of the Republic as no longer valid, whereby L. Ulevičius, an advisor to the President of the Republic, and J. Petreikis, a consultant to the President of the Republic, used to be empowered to represent the President of the Republic at the Constitutional Court.

VI

At the Constitutional Court, the representatives of the Seimas, the petitioner, who were Seimas member V. P. Andriukaitis and G. Ivoška, a senior consultant to the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in their written explanations.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

1. On 12 March 2004, the President of the Republic issued the Decree (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas”, whereby he applied to the Seimas and proposed that impeachment proceedings be instituted against the member of the Seimas Artūras Paulauskas subsequent to the following charges:

1) on the grounds that he knowingly disclosed information comprising a state secret to persons who did not have a permit to work or to become familiarised themselves with classified information and, thus, violated laws of the Republic of Lithuania and exceeding the powers that the laws had granted to him, thus, upon a gross violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and a breach of the oath taken by a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania;

2) on the grounds that he discredited the authority of the President of the Republic of Lithuania as one of the institutions of state power, and thus grossly violated the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and breached the oath taken by a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.”

2. The Seimas, the petitioner, by its Resolution (No. IX-2062) “On the Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania with the Petition Requesting an Investigation into Whether the Decree of the President of the Republic ‘On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas’ Is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 16 March 2004 requests an investigation

1) into whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law entrenched in the Constitution;

2) into whether Article 4 of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is not in conflict with the principle of a state under the rule of law entrenched in the Constitution and Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution.

3. Article 74 of the Constitution provides that for a gross violation of the Constitution, a breach of the oath, or upon disclosure of the commission of a crime, the Seimas may, by a 3/5 majority vote of all the members of the Seimas, remove from office 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 members of the Seimas, or may revoke the mandate of a member of the Seimas. This shall be performed in accordance with the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be established by the Statute of the Seimas.

Under Article 76 of the Constitution, the Statute of the Seimas shall have the force of a law.

4. Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1999, No. 47-1470) provides: “The right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete individual for the reasons specified in Article 228 of this Statute shall be granted to a group of Seimas members consisting of at least 1/4 of all of the Seimas members, the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal.”

One should pay attention to the fact that although Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas contains a reference to Article 228 of the same statute, however, Article 228 of the Statute of the Seimas establishes not the grounds to institute impeachment proceedings, but state officials against whom impeachment proceedings are applied. Such grounds are established in Article 229 of the Statute of the Seimas. The legislature must correct this mistake of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas.

5. Article 1 of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 indicates that it is issued on the grounds of Articles 74, 77 and 85 of the Constitution and Articles 227, 228, 229, 230 and 233 of the Statute of the Seimas.

It needs to be noted that the right of the President of the Republic to propose to institute impeachment proceedings against a member of the Seimas is established in Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas. The decree of the President of the Republic is a substatutory legal act. It has been issued on the grounds of, inter alia, the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 203 of the Statute of the Seimas, which has the force of a law, in which the right of the President of the Republic to propose to institute impeachment proceedings against a concrete person is established. Thus, when investigating the compliance of the decree of the President of the Republic, a substatutory legal act, with the Constitution, one must assess the relation of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas, pursuant to which the impugned decree of the President of the Republic was issued, with the Constitution.

6. Under Article 74 of the Constitution, the procedure for impeachment proceedings is established by the Statute of the Seimas. This provision of the Constitution implies discretion of the Seimas to establish in the Statute of the Seimas as to who initiates impeachment, how this is done, the procedure for the conducting of impeachment, the procedure by which a decision is adopted concerning removal the person from office or revocation of the mandate of the Seimas member, etc.

Alongside, it needs to be noted that the Seimas, while regulating impeachment proceedings, must pay heed to the norms and principles of the Constitution, not violate the constitutional concept of impeachment, and the rights of the impeached person. Therefore, while assessing the compliance of the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas with the Constitution, one has to ascertain whether the legal regulation established in Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas pays heed to the impeachment concept consolidated in the Constitution.

7. The essential elements of impeachment are entrenched in Article 74 of the Constitution. Impeachment is a special parliamentary procedure. By means of procedure for impeachment proceedings one decides the issue of constitutional liability of 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, and of members of the Seimas. These persons may be removed from office (revoked the mandate of a Seimas member) for actions provided for in the Constitution: a gross violation of the Constitution, a breach of the oath, and the commission of a crime.

In its ruling of 11 May 1999, the Constitutional Court held that impeachment is only applied to the persons listed in Article 74 of the Constitution; that it is permitted to institute impeachment proceedings only for a gross violation of the Constitution, for a breach of the oath, or upon disclosure of the commission of a crime; that the objective of impeachment proceedings is to decide the question of the constitutional liability of the said persons; that impeachment is carried out by the Seimas; and, to remove a person from office or to revoke his mandate of the Seimas member, three-fifths majority vote of all the Seimas members is necessary.

Other articles of the Constitution are related with the impeachment institute 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 (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 May 1999 and its conclusion of 31 March 2004).

8. Various aspects of the constitutional concept of impeachment are disclosed in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court: in the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 11 May 1999 and 30 March 2000 as well as in its conclusion of 31 March 2004. It needs to be noted that the provisions of the Statute of the Seimas that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete individual for the reasons specified in the Statute of the Seimas shall be granted to a group of Seimas members consisting of at least 1/4 of all of the Seimas members, the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, have not been impugned at the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court has not investigated the compliance of these provisions with the Constitution.

9. The Constitution shall be an integral act (Paragraph 1 of Article 6), its norms and principles constitute a harmonious system, it is not permitted to construe any provision of the Constitution so that the content of any other constitutional provision might be distorted or denied, since the essence of the entire constitutional regulation would thus be distorted and the balance of values entrenched in the Constitution would be disturbed.

In the constitutional system of Lithuania, the impeachment institute is also to be linked with the striving for an open, just, harmonious civil society and state under the rule of law, with the constitutional principles of protection of the rights and freedoms of the person. The constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law is a universal principle upon which the entire Lithuanian legal system and the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania itself are based. Along with the other requirements, this principle also implies that all state institutions and officials must act only on the basis of the Constitution and law and in compliance with the Constitution and law, that the Constitution has the supreme legal force and that laws and other legal acts must be in compliance with the Constitution.

10. It has been mentioned that impeachment is a special parliamentary procedure provided for in the Constitution when the issue of constitutional liability of 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, and of members of the Seimas is decided. Article 74 of the Constitution provides that only the Seimas may remove these persons from office or revoke the mandate of a member of the Seimas.

It needs to be noted that, under the Constitution, in order that constitutional liability would be applied reasonably, in cases when impeachment proceedings against 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, and members of the Seimas are instituted because of a gross violation of the Constitution or a breach of the oath, the Seimas must apply to the Constitutional Court requesting a conclusion whether concrete actions of the member of the Seimas and the state official against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution. The Seimas may decide the issue of removal of this person from office or revocation of the mandate of a Seimas member only after it receives the conclusion of the Constitutional Court that concrete actions of the member of the Seimas and the state official against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution (Item 4 of Paragraph 3 of Article 105 of the Constitution).

Thus, under the Constitution, only two institutions of state power enjoy the powers in impeachment proceedings, i.e. the Seimas and the Constitutional Court. According to the Constitution, the Constitutional Court decides (presents a conclusion) whether concrete actions of the member of the Seimas and the state official against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution, whether the Constitution has been violated grossly by these actions, while the Seimas decides, under procedure for impeachment proceedings, whether to remove the person from office (to revoke the mandate of a Seimas member).

As mentioned before, under Article 74 of the Constitution, one of the bases for impeachment is “upon disclosure of the commission of a crime”. It should be noted that it is permitted to provide for in the Statute of the Seimas, while paying heed to the concept of impeachment consolidated in the Constitution, that in cases when the fact of the commission of a crime is clear, its presence may be stated by the Seimas, without a corresponding investigation carried out by law institutions, when it conducts impeachment the impeachment. In its 11 May 1999 ruling, the Constitutional Court stated that “removal of the person from office or revocation of his mandate of Seimas member in accordance with the procedure for impeachment proceedings because of the suspicion of the commission of crime is not binding on the court”. It also needs to be noted that in cases when the fact of the commission of a crime is not clear, the Seimas, under the Constitution, may not conduct the impeachment on the grounds of the fact of the commission of the crime until a court judgment of conviction is not adopted and gone into effect.

Thus, the Constitution consolidates the concept of impeachment when the Seimas conducts impeachment, while the Constitutional Court presents a conclusion whether concrete actions of the member of the Seimas and the state official against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution. No other institutions are granted powers by the Constitution to participate in the conduct of impeachment.

In case the Statute of the Seimas, which has the force of a law, provided for any such legal regulation under which a different state institution had powers to participate in the conduct of impeachment, if this is not provided for in the Constitution, then one would interfere with the constitutional powers of the Seimas to conduct impeachment. It needs to be noted that in case the Constitution consolidates the powers of a certain state institution, no other institution may interfere with them. Thus, the Statue of the Seimas, which has the force of a law, may not contain any such legal regulation under which the subjects, not provided for in the Constitution, would have the powers in the implementation whereof they would give rise to a duty of the Seimas to institute impeachment proceedings.

11. It has been mentioned that, under the Constitution, the Seimas conducts impeachment, while the Constitutional Court presents a conclusion whether concrete actions of the state official or the member of the Seimas against whom an impeachment case has been instituted are in conflict with the Constitution. No other institutions are granted powers by the Constitution to participate in the conduct of impeachment.

The first stage of impeachment proceedings is initiation of impeachment. Article 74 of the Constitution provides that the procedure for impeachment proceedings shall be established by the Statute of the Seimas. Under Article 76 of the Constitution, the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas shall be established by the Statute of the Seimas. As mentioned before, according to the Constitution, impeachment proceedings take place in the Seimas and no state institutions are permitted to interfere with the constitutional powers of the Seimas to conduct impeachment if it is not provided for in the Constitution. This implies that impeachment may be initiated only in the Seimas, that, it should be emphasised, the initiative of impeachment may come only from members of the Seimas. It needs to be noted that, when one takes account of the importance of the constitutional institute of impeachment as a means of self-defence of the Nation, which is applied by the Seimas, also of the fact that impeachment may be applied against supreme state officials, only a sufficiently big group of members of the Seimas may have the right to initiate impeachment proceedings. On the other hand, in case one established a too big number of members of such group of Seimas members, one would deny the democratic nature of the impeachment institute.

It needs to be noted that in case one provides, while establishing initiation of impeachment in the Statute of the Seimas, that impeachment might be initiated not in the Seimas, that the initiative of impeachment might rise not from members of the Seimas, that other state institutions might propose to institute impeachment, then one would disregard the constitutional concept of impeachment and interfere with the constitutional prerogative of the Seimas to conduct impeachment.

In this context, it should be noted that the legal regulation of initiation of impeachment in the Statute of the Seimas may, according to the Constitution, have peculiarities in the case that a court judgment of conviction is adopted and effective in regard of the person. In its ruling of 11 May 1999, the Constitutional Court held that such regulation of the impeachment procedure, when this is done by Seimas members themselves, is not the only form possible for initiating impeachment proceedings. Giving its consent to bring the person to criminal liability, the Seimas also decides that the actual circumstances of the case will be investigated by judicial institutions—the interrogation and the court—but not any special commission formed by the Seimas. This means that in case the court recognises that the person is guilty of the commission of crime, later one will not have to submit a special proposal to institute impeachment because of the commission of crime. A formal statement of the charges as an independent action, when this is done by Seimas members themselves, is not, in this case, a necessary element of impeachment proceedings.

One must emphasise that after the Seimas has received an effective court judgment of conviction, the court judgment and decisions of other courts adopted in the course of the consideration of the criminal case are not deliberated at the time of the impeachment proceedings conducted in the Seimas, nor one discusses their legality and reasonableness. In such a case in the Seimas one decides only the issue of removal of the state official from office (revocation of the mandate of a Seimas member).

12. The Constitution does not name expressis verbis state power institutions which have the right to propose to institute impeachment proceedings against 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 members of the Seimas. As mentioned before, according to Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas, the right to propose that the Seimas institute impeachment proceedings against a state official indicated in Article 74 of the Constitution belongs to three subjects: a group of Seimas members consisting of at least 1/4 of all of the Seimas members, the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal.

While assessing the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas that a group of Seimas members consisting of at least 1/4 of all of the Seimas members has the right to propose that the Seimas institute impeachment proceedings against a concrete person, one should take into consideration the fact that under the Constitution impeachment may only be initiated in the Seimas, that the initiative of impeachment may rise only from Seimas members. It needs to be noted that a group of Seimas members consisting of at least 1/4 of all of the Seimas members, which is indicated in Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas, is of sufficient size and is not too big. Thus, there are no grounds to assert that the provision that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against the persons indicated in Article 74 of the Constitution belongs to a group of Seimas members consisting of at least 1/4 of all of the Seimas members is not in line with the constitutional concept of impeachment.

The provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete person for the reasons specified in the Statute of the Seimas belongs to the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal.

After the Statute of the Seimas has stipulated that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete person belongs to the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, the powers have been granted to these institutions in the implementation whereof a duty arises for the Seimas to institute the impeachment proceedings. By the said provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas, one interferes with the constitutional prerogative of the Seimas to conduct impeachment and deviates from the constitutional concept of impeachment. These provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas are in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution.

13. Taking account of the arguments set forth, it should be concluded that Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas to the extent that it provides that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete individual belongs to the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution.

14. Having held that Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas to the extent that it provides that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete individual belongs to the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution, one is also to hold that this paragraph of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas to the above-stated extent is in conflict with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law as well.

15. The Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 was issued in the course of the implementation of the right of the President of the Republic to propose that the Seimas institute impeachment proceedings against a member of the Seimas, which is provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas.

Having held that Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas to the extent that it provides that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete individual belongs to the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, one is also to hold that the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

16. Having held that the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, in this case the Constitutional Court will not investigate whether Article 4 of the impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with the state under the rule of law entrenched in the Constitution and with Paragraph 2 of Article 7 of the Constitution.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 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:

1. To recognise that Paragraph 1 of Article 230 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that it provides that the right to propose to the Seimas the initiation of impeachment proceedings against a concrete individual belongs to the President of the Republic, and the Judicial Court of Honour if the case concerns the Justices of the Supreme Court and the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. To recognise that the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 397) “On the Proposal to Institute Impeachment Proceedings Against the Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Artūras Paulauskas” of 12 March 2004 is in conflict with Article 74 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

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:                                                  Armanas Abramavičius

Egidijus Jarašiūnas

Egidijus Kūris

Kęstutis Lapinskas

Zenonas Namavičius

Augustinas Normantas

Jonas Prapiestis

Vytautas Sinkevičius

Stasys Stačiokas