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On state awards and privileges

Case No. 16/03-17/03-18/03

 

 

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF ARTICLE 1 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON AMENDING ARTICLE 7 OF THE LAW ON LAND REFORM AND ARTICLE 7 (WORDING OF 5 NOVEMBER 2002) OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON LAND REFORM WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

12 May 2006

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius, Toma Birmontienė, Egidijus Kūris, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Ramutė Ruškytė, Vytautas Sinkevičius, Stasys Stačiokas, and Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Liucija Schulte-Ebbert, senior advisor of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas, acting as the representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned

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 Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, in its public hearing, on 10 May 2006, considered case No. 16/03-17/03-18/03 subsequent to the following petitions:

the 26 March 2003 petition (No. 1B-14) of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and Article 3 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform to the extent that, according to the petitioner, the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis before 3 July 2002 and who failed to submit a request before 3 July 2002, were deprived of the right to receive a land lot gratis, are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

the 26 March 2003 petition (No. 1B-15) of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and Article 3 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform to the extent that, according to the petitioner, the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis before 3 July 2002 and who failed to submit a request before 3 July 2002, were deprived of the right to receive a land lot gratis, are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

the 26 March 2003 petition (No. 1B-16) of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and Article 3 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it is prescribed that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government which is intended for individual construction, if the requests were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

By the Constitutional Court’s decision of 9 April 2003, the aforementioned petitions were joined into one case and it was given reference number 16/03-17/03-18/03.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, considered an administrative case. By its ruling, the said court suspended the consideration of the case and applied to the Constitutional Court (petition No. 1B-14) requesting an investigation into whether Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and Article 3 of the Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform to the extent that, according to the petitioner, the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis before 3 July 2002 and who failed to submit a request before 3 July 2002, were deprived of the right to receive a land lot gratis, are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, considered an administrative case. By its ruling, the said court suspended the consideration of the case and applied to the Constitutional (petition No. 1B-15) requesting an investigation into whether Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and Article 3 of the Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform to the extent that, according to the petitioner, the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis before 3 July 2002 and who failed to submit a request before 3 July 2002, were deprived of the right to receive a land lot gratis, are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

3. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, considered an administrative case. By its ruling, the said court suspended the consideration of the case and applied to the Constitutional (petition No. 1B-16) requesting an investigation into whether Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and Article 3 of the Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it is prescribed that the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government which is intended for individual construction, if the requests were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, grounds its petitions Nos. 1B-14 and 1B-15 on the fact that by the impugned articles of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform and the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform the chevaliers of the Order of the Cross of Vytis, who were granted this award before 3 July 2002 and who failed to submit a request before the said date, because in their trust in the state they were not in a hurry to do that, were retrospectively deprived of the right to receive a land lot. In order to implement their right, they had to perform certain acts (submit a request) in the past, but they were unable to know it back then. In the opinion of the petitioner, such legal regulation is in conflict with the principle that the law is valid only prospectively, also the constitutional principles of protection of legitimate expectations and a state under the rule of law. In addition, such legal regulation established a privilege to the persons who had received their land lots and had submitted respective requests before 3 July 2002, i.e. to those who were mainly concerned with material benefits of the award, therefore, this legal regulation is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, under which all persons are equal before the law, the court and other state institutions and officials.

2. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, grounds his petition No. 1B-16 on the fact that, in his opinion, the impugned legal regulation, which related the right to receive a land lot for individual construction gratis with the date of submission of a corresponding request, is favourable to certain holders of this right and unfavourable to the others. Therefore, in the opinion of the petitioner, this legal regulation is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, who was L. Schulte-Ebbert, in which it is asserted that the impugned articles are not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of the protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. The Seimas representative grounds her position on the following arguments.

1. The state must ensure only the expectations which comply with both juridical facts related to the impugned legal regulation: the person was decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis and he submitted a request regarding reception of a land lot gratis. Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform did not establish any obligations of the said persons that they were not aware of or were unable to be aware of when corresponding legal relations appeared, therefore, the rule lex retro non agit was not violated.

2. The impugned articles of the laws are equally applicable to all persons who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis and who applied for acquisition of a land lot gratis.

3. By Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, the legislature in essence changed the legal regulation that had existed until then, because he sought to ensure the interests of the entire society, but not those of individual persons, and not to relate state awards with material values—reception of land lots. By means of Article 3 of the Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform the legal regulation established in Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform was only particularised without setting any new circumstances or terms, which the participants of certain legal relations did not or could not know.

IV

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from G. Švedas, Vice-Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, J. Kondrotas, Vice-Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania, H. Šinkūnas, Legal Advisor to the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Head of the Legal Department, Prof. A. Marcijonas, Head of the Department of Constitutional and Administrative Law of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University.

V

At the Constitutional Court’s hearing L. Schulte-Ebbert, the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in her written explanations.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. On 18 June 2002, the Seimas adopted the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform by Article 1 whereof it recognised Item 1 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, which prescribed that in the procedure set by the Government the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents or children) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) upon their request shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, as no longer valid.

The Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform came into force on 3 July 2002.

2. On 5 November 2002, the Seimas adopted the Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform by Article 3 whereof it supplemented Article 7 (wording of 2 July 1997) of the Law on Land Reform with new Item 1 and it was prescribed that in the procedure set by the Government the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, also, that “the said land lots must be planned in the territories approved by the municipal councils before 31 December 2003”.

The Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform came into force on 22 November 2002.

Taking account of the fact that by Article 3 of the Law on Amending and Supplementing Articles 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18 of the Law on Land Reform Article 7 (wording of 18 June 2002) of the Law on Land Reform was supplemented with new Item 1, it should be held that the petitioner requests an investigation into whether the provision “Land of the size set by the Government shall be granted gratis as ownership in the procedure set by the Government to the following citizens of the Republic of Lithuania: <…> (1) one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, to those who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform” of Article 7 (wording of 5 November 2002) of the Law on Land Reform is not in conflict with the Constitution.

II

On the compliance of Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations.

1. It has been mentioned that by Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, Item 1 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, which prescribed that in the procedure set by the Government the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents or children) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) upon their request shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, was recognised as no longer valid.

2. When deciding whether Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform is not in conflict with the Constitution, it is necessary to disclose the essence of the constitutional institute of state awards.

For merits to the State of Lithuania, citizens of the Republic of Lithuania may be awarded awards of the State of Lithuania (orders, medals and other decorations) (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 December 2003). The Seimas shall establish state awards of the Republic of Lithuania (Item 18 of Article 67 of the Constitution). The President of the Republic shall confer state awards (Item 22 of Article 84 of the Constitution). State awards are granted to the persons for merits to the State of Lithuania. The persons with merits to the State of Lithuania, i.e. those who conducted exceptional deeds demanding extraordinary efforts or even self-sacrifice and which provided exceptional benefits to the State of Lithuania, its society or certain spheres of life of this country, are honoured in the name of the state by means of state awards.

It should also be noted that according to international customs, the diplomatic protocol, i.e. according to the established international practice, state awards can be granted to the citizens of foreign states (inter alia, Heads of States and high-ranking officials), expressing special respect to their state and themselves and by seeking to develop mutually beneficial relations between Lithuania and other states.

When establishing state awards (inter alia, establishing the system thereof) the Seimas enjoys broad discretion, however, it must follow the constitutional concept of state awards, which implies that state awards are granted namely for merits and that the said merits should be merits to Lithuania (the State of Lithuania, its society, certain spheres of life of this country). The grounds under which persons could be awarded must be clear; they must be established by law. The law should also establish a procedure of presenting a person for a state award.

The constitutional concept of state awards should also be heeded when granting state awards. The President of the Republic has rather broad freedom of discretion to decide whether or not to award a presented person. It should be stressed that the Constitution does not oblige the President of the Republic to grant a certain state award to a certain person or persons (for certain merits), however, when granting state awards the President of the Republic must heed, inter alia, the requirements for conscientiously fulfilling the duties of his office, and for being equally just to all, as established in Article 82 of the Constitution.

On the other hand, the law may provide for certain formal criteria, and if a person does not meet them, he may not be granted state awards, or, if he has been granted an award, he must be deprived of this state award.

Granting a certain state award is not implementation of the right nor of a legitimate expectation of a person, even though he has undoubted merits to Lithuania, but rather such assessment of his merits, which depends on the discretion and will of the President of the Republic.

3. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue it should be particularly noted that a state award is a sign of state estimation towards that person, therefore, it should not be related to provision of material, financial or other benefits of any kind (with an exception, of course, of the order, medal, etc. itself). The Constitution does not imply that a person who was granted a state award of any kind could expect, let alone demand, any additional material, financial or other benefits, privileges, etc. only because he has been granted the award.

4. The constitutional institute of state awards is not identical to other constitutional institutes, inter alia, related to provision of support, care, welfare, maintenance, financial or other benefits established in the Constitution (thus, grounded constitutionally and not regarded as privileges) to various persons.

In this context, various provisions of the Constitution should be mentioned: Paragraph 2 of Article 38, prescribing that family, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood shall be under the protection and care of the state; Paragraph 1 of Article 39 prescribing that the state shall take care of families that raise and bring up children at home, and shall render them support according to the procedure established by law; Paragraph 2 of Article 42 prescribing, inter alia, that the state shall support culture and science; Article 52 prescribing that the state shall guarantee to citizens the right to receive old age and disability pensions as well as social assistance in the event of unemployment, sickness, widowhood, loss of the breadwinner, and in other cases provided for by law; Paragraph 1 of Article 53 prescribing, inter alia, that the state shall take care of people’s health and shall guarantee medical aid and services for the human being in the event of sickness; Paragraph 2 of the same article prescribing that the state shall promote physical culture of society and shall support sport; Article 146 prescribing that the state shall take care of and provide for the servicemen who lost their health during the military service as well as for the families of servicemen who lost their lives or died during the military service and that the state shall also provide for citizens who lost their health while defending the state as well as for the families of the citizens who lost their lives or died in defence of the state; etc.

If a person meets the requirements set by law and there are grounds provided for by law, the material and financial support, the provision of other material, financial benefits by the state to the person can be related to the same acts (activity) which earned the person a certain state award. However, it should be stressed that in itself the sole fact that the person was granted a state award should not serve as grounds to allocate him state material and financial support, other material and financial benefits, etc. If such regulation was established, it would be regarded as one deviating from Paragraph 2 Article 32 of the Constitution, according to which the rights of ownership (national and municipal included) shall be protected by law, and if Paragraph 2 of Article 23 of the Constitution is construed in connection with the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution that the procedure for the possession, use and disposal of state property shall be established by law, it would also be regarded as one deviating from Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution, as well as from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and the constitutional concept of state awards.

Thus, under the Constitution, such legal regulation whereby a person, who was granted a certain state award, also receives certain material and financial benefit or privilege on the grounds of the fact that he has been awarded, is impermissible.

It should also be noted that such legal regulation whereby a person who was granted a certain, even the highest, state award, also receives a land lot gratis is not characteristic of modern democratic states under the rule of law at all.

5. It has been mentioned that according to Item 1 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, under the procedure set by the Government the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis were granted land—one land lot of the size set by the Government which was intended for individual construction—as ownership gratis upon their request.

6. Having held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that, under the Constitution, such legal regulation whereby a person, who was granted a certain state award, also receives certain material and financial benefit or privilege on the grounds of the fact that he has been awarded, is impermissible, it should also be held that Item 1 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, according to which in the procedure set by the Government the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents or children) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased), upon their request shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, was not in line with the constitutional concept of state awards, the imperative of social harmony, and the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 23 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution.

Abolishment of unconstitutional legal regulation may not be regarded as contradicting the Constitution (according to its content), therefore, Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform impugned in the constitutional justice case at issue cannot be regarded as contradicting, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, which were indicated by the petitioner.

7. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that Article 1 of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

On the compliance of the provision “Land of the size set by the Government shall be granted gratis as ownership in the procedure set by the Government to the following citizens of the Republic of Lithuania: <…> (1) one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, to those who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform” of Item 1 (wording of 5 November 2002) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of protection of legitimate expectations, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

1. When deciding whether the provision “Land of the size set by the Government shall be granted gratis as ownership in the procedure set by the Government to the following citizens of the Republic of Lithuania: <…> (1) one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, to those who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform” of Item 1 (wording of 5 November 2002) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform is not in conflict with the Constitution, it should be held that:

this provision was established by law already after the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform had come into force, by Article 1 whereof the unconstitutional legal regulation established in Article 7 (Item 1 thereof) (wording of 2 July 1997) of the Law on Land Reform, whereby land—one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction—in the procedure set by the Government must be granted gratis as ownership to the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased), upon their request, had been recognised as no longer valid;

by this provision the legal regulation, whereby land—one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction—in the procedure set by the Government must be granted gratis as ownership to the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased), was reintroduced (in a certain narrower scope) into the legal system, by establishing the condition that their requests had to be submitted prior to 3 July 2002, i.e. before the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform came into force.

2. Thus, the legislature re-established such legal regulation where during a certain period of time certain persons (their spouses, parents (adoptive parents, children, (adoptees)) had to be granted land lots gratis precisely because they had been decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis.

3. It has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that, under the Constitution, such legal regulation whereby a person, who was granted a certain state award, also receives certain material and financial benefit or privilege on the grounds of the fact that he has been awarded, is impermissible.

It has also been held that Item 1 (wording of 2 July 1997) of Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform, according to which in the procedure set by the Government the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents or children) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased), upon their request shall receive gratis as ownership one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, was not in line with the constitutional concept of state awards, the imperative of social harmony, and the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 23 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution.

4. Having held this, it should also be held that the provision “Land of the size set by the Government shall be granted gratis as ownership in the procedure set by the Government to the following citizens of the Republic of Lithuania: <…> (1) one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, to those who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform” of Article 7 (wording of 5 November 2002) of the Law on Land Reform is not in line with the constitutional concept of state awards, the imperative of social harmony, and the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 23 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution.

5. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the provision “Land of the size set by the Government shall be granted gratis as ownership in the procedure set by the Government to the following citizens of the Republic of Lithuania: <…> (1) one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, to those who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform” of Article 7 (wording of 5 November 2002) of the Law on Land Reform is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 23 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

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 Article 1 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 68-2763) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Land Reform is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. To recognise that the provision “Land of the size set by the Government shall be granted gratis as ownership in the procedure set by the Government to the following citizens of the Republic of Lithuania: <…> (1) one land lot of the size set by the Government, which is intended for individual construction, to those who were decorated with the Order of the Cross of Vytis and the Cross of Vytis, spouses (in the absence of such, parents (adoptive parents) or children (adoptees)) of such persons who lost their lives (or who are deceased) if their requests to receive gratis the land plot as ownership were submitted before the entry into force (on 3 July 2002) of the Law on Amending Article 7 of the Law on Land Reform” of Article 7 (wording of 5 November 2002; Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 112-4974) of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Land Reform is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 23 and Paragraph 2 of Article 128 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as 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

                                                                                 Toma Birmontienė

                                                                                 Egidijus Kūris

                                                                                 Kęstutis Lapinskas

                                                                                 Zenonas Namavičius

                                                                                 Vytautas Sinkevičius

                                                                                 Stasys Stačiokas

                                                                                 Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis