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On accepting a petition of the petitioner

 

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

DECISION

ON THE PETITION OF A GROUP OF MEMBERS OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, THE PETITIONER, REQUESTING AN INVESTIGATION INTO WHETHER PARAGRAPH 3 (WORDING OF 19 SEPTEMBER 2000) OF ARTICLE 85, PARAGRAPHS 2 AND 3 (WORDING OF 19 SEPTEMBER 2000) OF ARTICLE 139 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON THE PROCEEDINGS OF ADMINISTRATIVE CASES, ARTICLE 306 (WORDING OF 8 JULY 2004), PARAGRAPH 2 (WORDING OF 14 MARCH 2002) OF ARTICLE 308, PARAGRAPHS 12 AND 13 (WORDING OF 14 MARCH 2002) OF ARTICLE 324, PARAGRAPH 9 (WORDING OF 14 MARCH 2002) OF ARTICLE 377, PARAGRAPH 7 (WORDING OF 14 MARCH 2002) OF ARTICLE 448, PARAGRAPH 5 (WORDING OF 14 MARCH 2002) OF ARTICLE 454, AND PARAGRAPHS 4 AND 5 (WORDING OF 14 MARCH 2002) OF ARTICLE 460 OF THE CODE OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, PARAGRAPH 3 (WORDING OF 28 FEBRUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 268, PARAGRAPHS 2 AND 5 (WORDING OF 28 FEBRUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 285, PARAGRAPH 1 (WORDING OF 28 FEBRUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 286, PARAGRAPH 2 (WORDING OF 28 FEBRUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 303, PARAGRAPHS 2 AND 3 (WORDING OF 28 FEBRUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 325, AND PARAGRAPH 3 (WORDING OF 28 FEBRUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 358 OF THE CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, ITEM 1 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF PARAGRAPH 2 OF ARTICLE 119, PARAGRAPH 5 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 119, AND ITEM 1 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 120 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON COURTS, THE DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 2067) “ON THE PROLONGATION OF THE POWERS OF A JUDGE OF A REGIONAL COURT” OF 19 FEBRUARY 2003 AND THE DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO. 128) “ON APPOINTING CHAIRPERSONS OF DIVISIONS OF REGIONAL COURTS” OF 18 JUNE 2003 ARE NOT IN CONFLICT WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

28 March 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

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, at its procedural sitting, has considered the petition of a group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into:

whether Paragraph 3 of Article 85 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that the introductory and operative parts of the decision shall be drawn up and pronounced, as a rule, on the same day after the hearing of an individual case, while the parts of the decision comprising the recital and the reasoning shall be drawn up within seven working days after the pronouncement of the decision, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 139 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the introductory and operative parts of the decision shall be drawn up and pronounced by briefly setting forth the reasoning after the hearing of a case, while the parts of the decision comprising the recital and the reasoning shall be drawn up later, within seven working days after the adoption of the decision, are not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Article 306 (wording of 8 July 2004) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that the judge shall draw up and pronounce judgments together with the reasoning substantiating them only in the cases on the crimes provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 135, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 149, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 150, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 180, Paragraph 2 of Article 182 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 260 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 308 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that a court of first instance must, prior to the time of the pronouncement of a judgment, specify the reasoning of its adoption in the judgment only when the court thinks that that the case is not too complicated or big, while in other situations the court has the right only to draw up the introductory and operative parts of the judgment prior to the time of the pronouncement of the judgment, to pronounce them and to verbally explain the arguments of the adoption, that the whole reasoned judgment shall be drawn up and signed later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the judgment within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 12 and 13 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 324 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a court of the appeal instance must, prior to the time of the pronouncement of a judgment or a ruling, specify the reasoning of its adoption in the judgment only when the court thinks that that the case is not too complicated or big, while in other situations the court has the right only to draw up the introductory and operative parts of the judgment or the ruling prior to the time of the pronouncement of the judgment, to pronounce them and to verbally explain the arguments of the adoption of the judgment or the ruling, that the whole reasoned judgment and the ruling shall be drawn up and signed later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the judgment or the ruling within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 9 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 377 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that a court of the cassation instance adopts and pronounces a ruling without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and the ruling is supplemented with it later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the ruling within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 448 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in cases concerning newly emerged circumstances a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 454 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in cases concerning newly emerged circumstances, in regard of all persons save the convicts who must be released from the places of confinement, a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 4 and 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in cases concerning renewal of a case upon adoption of a corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 268 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in the course of deciding a case in a court of first instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the decision are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining part, which substantiates the decision, is drawn up later, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 5 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285, Paragraph 1 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 286 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a decision of a court of first instance adopted in absentia, after only a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case have been performed, by pointing out only the introductory and operative parts and abridged reasoning in the decision, persists if it is not abrogated by the court that adopted it, while the party due to whose failure to appear at the preparatory hearing or the court hearing or due to whose failure to submit a response to the claim the decision was adopted in absentia, may not appeal against such decision are not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 325 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in the course of deciding a case in a court of first instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the decision are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining parts—the recital and the reasoning—shall be drawn up and published later, within fourteen days of the adoption of the decision or the ruling, are not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 358 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in the course of deciding a case in a court of cassation instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the ruling are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining parts—the recital and the reasoning—shall be drawn up and published later, within twenty days of the adoption of the decision or the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Paragraph 2 of Article 119, Paragraph 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119, and Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the composition of the Council of Courts shall include an authorised representative of the President of the Republic, an authorised representative of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs or his deputy, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Budget and Finance or his deputy, the Minister of Justice or the vice-minister authorised by him, and the Minister of Finance or the vice-minister authorised by him, and that the President of the Supreme Court shall be the ex officio Chairperson of the Council of Courts are not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 2067) “On the Prolongation of the Powers of a Judge of a Regional Court” of 19 February 2003 is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 128) “On Appointing Chairpersons of Divisions of Regional Courts” of 18 June 2003 is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

On 25 January 2006, at the Constitutional Court, the petition of a group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, was received, requesting an investigation into:

whether Paragraph 3 of Article 85 of the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that the introductory and operative parts of the decision shall be drawn up and pronounced, as a rule, on the same day after the hearing of an individual case, while the parts of the decision comprising the recital and the reasoning shall be drawn up within seven working days after the pronouncement of the decision, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 139 of the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the introductory and operative parts of the decision shall be drawn up and pronounced by briefly setting forth the reasoning after the hearing of a case, while the parts of the decision comprising the recital and the reasoning shall be drawn up later, within seven working days after the adoption of the decision, are not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Article 306 (wording of 8 July 2004) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (hereinafter also referred to as the CCP) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that the judge shall draw up and pronounce judgments together with the reasoning substantiating them only in the cases on the crimes provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 135, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 149, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 150, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 180, Paragraph 2 of Article 182 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 260 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 308 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that a court of first instance must, prior to the time of the pronouncement of a judgment, specify the reasoning of its adoption in the judgment only when the court thinks that that the case is not too complicated or big, while in other situations the court has the right only to draw up the introductory and operative parts of the judgment prior to the time of the pronouncement of the judgment, to pronounce them and to verbally explain the arguments of the adoption, that the whole reasoned judgment shall be drawn up and signed later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the judgment within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 12 and 13 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 324 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a court of the appeal instance must, prior to the time of the pronouncement of a judgment or a ruling, specify the reasoning of its adoption in the judgment only when the court thinks that that the case is not too complicated or big, while in other situations the court has the right only to draw up the introductory and operative parts of the judgment or the ruling prior to the time of the pronouncement of the judgment, to pronounce them and to verbally explain the arguments of the adoption of the judgment or the ruling, that the whole reasoned judgment and the ruling shall be drawn up and signed later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the judgment or the ruling within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 9 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 377 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that a court of the cassation instance adopts and pronounces a ruling without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and the ruling is supplemented with it later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the ruling within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 448 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in cases concerning newly emerged circumstances a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 454 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in cases concerning newly emerged circumstances in regard of all persons save the convicts who must be released from the places of confinement a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 4 and 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in cases concerning renewal of a case upon adoption of a corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 268 of the Code of Civil Procedure to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in the course of deciding a case in a court of first instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the decision are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining part, which substantiates the decision, is drawn up later, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 5 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285, Paragraph 1 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 286 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a decision of a court of first instance adopted in absentia, after only a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case have been performed, by pointing out only the introductory and operative parts and abridged reasoning in the decision, persists if it is not abrogated by the court that adopted it, while the party due to whose failure to appear at the preparatory hearing or the court hearing or due to whose failure to submit a response to the claim the decision was adopted in absentia, may not appeal against such decision are not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 325 of the Code of Civil Procedure to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in the course of deciding a case in a court of first instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the decision are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining parts—the recital and the reasoning—shall be drawn up and published later, within fourteen days of the adoption of the decision or the ruling, are not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 358 of the Code of Civil Procedure to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in the course of deciding a case in a court of cassation instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the ruling are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining parts—the recital and the reasoning—shall be drawn up and published later, within twenty days of the adoption of the decision or the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Paragraph 2 of Article 119, Paragraph 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119, and Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120 of the Law on Courts to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the composition of the Council of Courts shall include an authorised representative of the President of the Republic, an authorised representative of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs or his deputy, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Budget and Finance or his deputy, the Minister of Justice or the vice-minister authorised by him, and the Minister of Finance or the vice-minister authorised by him, and that the President of the Supreme Court shall be the ex officio Chairperson of the Council of Courts are not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 2067) “On the Prolongation of the Powers of a Judge of a Regional Court” of 19 February 2003 is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 128) “On Appointing Chairpersons of Divisions of Regional Courts” of 18 June 2003 is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The petitioner requests an investigation, inter alia, into whether Paragraphs 4 and 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in cases concerning renewal of a case upon adoption of a corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. Paragraph 4 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the CCP provides:

The court, after it has heard the speeches and additional explanations of the persons participating in the case, shall leave to the deliberation room to adopt a ruling. Upon adopting the ruling, the court shall return to the courtroom and pronounce its operative part and present the main arguments of the adoption of the ruling.”

Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the CCP provides, inter alia, that the entire reasoned ruling shall be drawn up and signed not later than within ten days of its adoption.

Thus, the petition of the petitioner requesting an investigation into the compliance of Paragraphs 4 and 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the CCP with the Constitution erroneously indicates the term within which the entire reasoned ruling must be drawn up and signed: the ruling must be drawn up and signed not within three days of its adoption (as it is specified by the petitioner), but not later than within ten days of its adoption.

3. It should be held that the petition of the petitioner requesting an investigation into the compliance of Paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 460 of the CCP to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in cases concerning renewal of a case upon adoption of a corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, should be treated as a petition requesting an investigation into whether the said paragraphs to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in cases concerning renewal of a case upon adoption of a corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within ten days of the adoption of the ruling, are not in conflict with the Constitution.

II

1. The petitioner requests an investigation, inter alia, into whether Paragraphs 2 and 5 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285, Paragraph 1 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 286 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a decision of a court of first instance adopted in absentia, after only a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case have been performed, by pointing out only the introductory and operative parts and abridged reasoning in the decision, persists if it is not abrogated by the court that adopted it, while the party due to whose failure to appear at the preparatory hearing or the court hearing or due to whose failure to submit a response to the claim the decision was adopted in absentia, may not appeal against such decision are not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. According to the petitioner, “such legal regulation under which the court adopt the decision in absentia, which remains the final one, although adopted, upon performing only a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case, by pointing out only the introductory and operative parts and abridged reasoning” which is established in the aforementioned provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure is in conflict with the Constitution. In addition, according to the petitioner, the legal regulation established in Paragraphs 2 and 5 of Article 285, Paragraph 1 of Article 286 and Paragraph 2 of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure “also means that two sanctions are applied to the party which failed to appear at the preparatory hearing or failed to submit a response to the claim”—adoption of the decision in absentia and prohibition to appeal against such a court decision under appeal and cassation procedure—therefore, in the opinion of the petitioner, “the application of the second sanction—the prohibition on appealing against the decision of the court of first instance under appeal and cassation procedure—is in conflict with the principle of the equality of persons before the court and the principle of a state under the rule of law which is entrenched in the Constitution, under which a party cannot be prohibited from requesting the verification of the lawfulness and reasonability of the decision of the court of first instance”.

3. Paragraph 2 of Article 285 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides:

A decision due to the respondent who failed to appear may be adopted in absentia only as regards the demands of the claim about which the respondent was informed under procedure established by this Code. When adopting the decision in absentia, the court shall perform a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case, i.e. it shall ascertain that if the content of the evidence is confirmed, there would be grounds to adopt such decision.”

Paragraph 5 of Article 285 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides:

The party that failed to appear, because of which the decision was adopted in absentia, may not appeal against this decision neither under appeal nor cassation procedure.”

Paragraph 1 of Article 286 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides:

A decision adopted in absentia shall be composed of the introductory and operative parts as well as abridged reasoning.”

Paragraph 2 of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides:

A court decision adopted in absentia may not be the object of appeal, if the appeal is lodged by the person in whose regard such decision was adopted.”

4. It should be held that the petition of the petitioner requesting an investigation into whether Paragraphs 2 and 5 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285, Paragraph 1 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 286 and Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a decision of a court of first instance adopted in absentia, after only a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case have been performed, by pointing out only the introductory and operative parts and abridged reasoning in the decision, persists if it is not abrogated by the court that adopted it, while the party due to whose failure to appear at the preparatory hearing or the court hearing or due to whose failure to submit a response to the claim the decision was adopted in absentia, may not appeal against such decision are not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law should be treated as a petition requesting an investigation into:

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285 of the Code of Civil Procedure to the extent that, according to the petitioner, the court, when it adopts a decision in absentia, performs a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case, i.e. it ascertains that if the content of the evidence is confirmed, there would be grounds to adopt such decision, is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285 of the Code of Civil Procedure is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

Paragraph 1 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 286 of the Code of Civil Procedure is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

1. The petitioner requests an investigation, inter alia, into whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Paragraph 2 of Article 119, Paragraph 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119, and Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120 of the Law on Courts to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the composition of the Council of Courts shall include an authorised representative of the President of the Republic, an authorised representative of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs or his deputy, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Budget and Finance or his deputy, the Minister of Justice or the vice-minister authorised by him, and the Minister of Finance or the vice-minister authorised by him, and that the President of the Supreme Court shall be the ex officio the Chairperson of the Council of Courts are not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

In its petition the petitioner points out, inter alia, that “under the legal regulation established in Item 1 of Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Law on Courts, state politicians, i.e. the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Seimas, indirectly, through their representatives, while the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs or his deputy, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Budget and Finance or his deputy, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Finance directly participate in the activity of the institution of self-governance of courts—the Council of Courts”, therefore, in the opinion of the petitioner, such consolidation of the composition of the Council of Courts is in conflict with Article 112 of the Constitution and is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 5, 109, and 114 of the Constitution in which the separation of powers, the independence of courts and the depoliticising of their activities are entrenched.

3. According to the petitioner, “under the legal regulation established in Paragraph 5 of Article 119 and Item 1 of Article 120 of the Law on Courts, the Council of Court cannot elect its Chairperson—the President of the Supreme Court is its Chairperson ex officio, while the Council of Courts has the right to elect the Deputy Chairperson and the Secretary”, that “judges and courts cannot, in a democratic way, choose the main person representing the interests of their self-governance”, therefore, in the opinion of the petitioner, such legal regulation is in conflict with, inter alia, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law: “<…> under the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is entrenched in the Constitution, self-governance of courts, like any other self-governance, means that the subject of the self-governance adopts the decision in the course of forming the bodies of self-governance, that the candidature of the person in chief cannot be imposed upon them, and that they themselves must decide as to who will head them”.

4. Item 1 of Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Law on Courts provides that the Council of Courts is composed of 24 members: ex officio—the President of the Supreme Court, the President of the Court of Appeal, the President of the Supreme Administrative Court, an authorised representative of the President of the Republic, an authorised representative of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs or his deputy, the Minister of Justice or the vice-minister authorised by him, and the Minister of Finance or the vice-minister authorised by him

Paragraph 5 of Article 119 of the Law on Courts provides: “The President of the Supreme Court shall be the ex officio Chairperson of the Council of Courts. The Council of Courts shall elect the Deputy Chairperson of the Council and the Secretary.”

Article 120 of the Law on Courts, inter alia, provides: “The Council of Courts: (1) shall elect the Deputy Chairperson of the Council and the Secretary; <…>.”

5. It needs to be held that the petition of the petitioner requesting an investigation into whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Paragraph 2 of Article 119, Paragraph 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119, and Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120 of the Law on Courts to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the composition of the Council of Courts shall include an authorised representative of the President of the Republic, an authorised representative of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Legal Affairs or his deputy, the Chairperson of the Seimas Committee on Budget and Finance or his deputy, the Minister of Justice or the vice-minister authorised by him, and the Minister of Finance or the vice-minister authorised by him, and that the President of the Supreme Court shall be the ex officio Chairperson of the Council of Courts are not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, should be treated as a petition requesting an investigation into:

whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

IV

1. The petitioner requests an investigation, inter alia, into whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 128) “On Appointing Chairpersons of Divisions of Regional Courts” of 18 June 2003 is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

2. It is clear from the arguments of the petitioner that the petitioner doubts whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 128) “On Appointing Chairpersons of Divisions of Regional Courts” of 18 June 2003 is not in conflict with the Constitution not to the entire extent, but only to the extent that it prescribes that Konstantinas Ramelis, a judge of the Vilnius Regional Court, is appointed Chairperson of the Civil Cases Department of the said court.

Conforming to Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 28 and Article 67 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania adopts the following

decision:

To accept the petition of the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into:

whether Paragraph 3 of Article 85 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that the introductory and operative parts of the decision shall be drawn up and pronounced, as a rule, on the same day after the hearing of an individual case, while the parts of the decision comprising the recital and the reasoning shall be drawn up within seven working days after the pronouncement of the decision, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 139 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that the introductory and operative parts of the decision shall be drawn up and pronounced by briefly setting forth the reasoning after the hearing of a case, while the parts of the decision comprising the recital and the reasoning shall be drawn up later, within seven working days after the adoption of the decision, are not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Article 306 (wording of 8 July 2004) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that the judge shall draw up and pronounce judgments together with the reasoning substantiating them only in the cases on the crimes provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 135, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 149, Paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 of Article 150, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Article 180, Paragraph 2 of Article 182 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 260 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 308 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that a court of first instance must, prior to the time of the pronouncement of a judgment, specify the reasoning of its adoption in the judgment only when the court thinks that that the case is not too complicated or big, while in other situations the court has the right only to draw up the introductory and operative parts of the judgment prior to the time of the pronouncement of the judgment, to pronounce them and to verbally explain the arguments of the adoption, that the whole reasoned judgment shall be drawn up and signed later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the judgment within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 12 and 13 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 324 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that a court of the appeal instance must, prior to the time of the pronouncement of a judgment or a ruling, specify the reasoning of its adoption in the judgment only when the court thinks that that the case is not too complicated or big, while in other situations the court has the right only to draw up the introductory and operative parts of the judgment or the ruling prior to the time of the pronouncement of the judgment, to pronounce them and to verbally explain the arguments of the adoption of the judgment or the ruling, that the whole reasoned judgment and the ruling shall be drawn up and signed later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the judgment or the ruling within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 9 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 377 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that a court of the cassation instance adopts and pronounces a ruling without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and the ruling is supplemented with it later after the pronouncement, and that the judges who have considered the case have the right, upon the consent of the President of the court and the Chairperson of the Criminal Cases Department, to draw up and sign the ruling within 14 days is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 7 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 448 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in cases concerning newly emerged circumstances a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 454 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in cases concerning newly emerged circumstances, in regard of all persons save the convicts who must be released from the places of confinement, a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within three days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 4 and 5 (wording of 14 March 2002) of Article 460 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in cases concerning renewal of a case upon adoption of a corresponding judgment of the European Court of Human Rights a ruling is adopted and pronounced without reasoning, while the reasoning is drawn up and signed by the judges later, within ten days of the adoption of the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 268 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in the course of deciding a case in a court of first instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the decision are adopted, drawn up and pronounced while the remaining part, which substantiates the decision, is drawn up later, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, the court, when it adopts a decision in absentia, performs a formal assessment of the evidence submitted in the case, i.e. it ascertains that if the content of the evidence is confirmed, there would be grounds to adopt such decision, is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 285 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 1 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 286 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 2 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 303 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 29, 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraphs 2 and 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 325 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, they prescribe that in the course of deciding a case in a court of first instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the decision are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining parts—the recital and the reasoning—shall be drawn up and published later, within fourteen days of the adoption of the decision or the ruling, are not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 February 2002) of Article 358 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania to the extent that, according to the petitioner, it prescribes that in the course of deciding a case in a court of cassation instance, only the introductory and operative parts of the ruling are adopted, drawn up and pronounced, while the remaining parts—the recital and the reasoning—shall be drawn up and published later, within twenty days of the adoption of the decision or the ruling, is not in conflict with Articles 109 and 117 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Paragraph 2 of Article 119 of the Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Paragraph 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119 of the Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether Item 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120 of the Law on Courts of the Republic of Lithuania is not in conflict with Articles 5, 109, 112, and 114 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 2067) “On the Prolongation of the Powers of a Judge of a Regional Court” of 19 February 2003 is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 128) “On Appointing Chairpersons of Divisions of Regional Courts” of 18 June 2003 to the extent that it prescribes that Konstantinas Ramelis, a judge of the Vilnius Regional Court, is appointed Chairperson of the Civil Cases Department of the said court is not in conflict with Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

 

Justices of the Constitutional Court:               Armanas Abramavičius

                                                                                    Toma Birmontienė

                                                                                    Egidijus Kūris

                                                                                    Kęstutis Lapinskas

                                                                                    Zenonas Namavičius

                                                                                    Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                    Vytautas Sinkevičius

                                                                                    Stasys Stačiokas

                                                                                    Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis