Lt

On the procedure for removing the immunity of a member of the Seimas

Case no 8/2015

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA (NO XII-1560) OF 24 MARCH 2015 ON THE CONSENT TO HOLD RIMAS ANTANAS RUČYS, A MEMBER OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, CRIMINALLY LIABLE, TO DETAIN HIM, OR TO RESTRICT HIS LIBERTY OTHERWISE WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA AND THE STATUTE OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

27 April 2016, no KT11-N7/2016
Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, and Dainius Žalimas

The court reporter—Sigutė Brusovienė

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102, 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 and of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Constitutional Court, at the Court’s hearing, on 21 April 2016, considered under oral procedure constitutional justice case no 8/2015 subsequent to the petition (no 1B-8/2015) of a group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether the resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania (No XII-1560) of 24 March 2015 on the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise is in conflict with Article 62 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:

I

The petition of the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, is substantiated by the following arguments.

1. On 23 December 2014, the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania applied to the Seimas requesting consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise. In reaction to this request, the Seimas formed an ad hoc investigation commission of the Seimas. In its prepared note and submitted note and relevant draft resolution, this commission proposed to the Seimas not to remove the inviolability (immunity) of a person of the member of the Seimas. According to the commission, with regard to the positions expressed by Rimas Antanas Ručys himself and the prosecutors, there was no legal ground for removing the inviolability of a person of the member of the Seimas.

2. Just before the consideration of this question at the sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, Rimas Antanas Ručys felt anxiety and nervous tension, as well as unexpected deterioration of health and cardiac disorder/disturbance, and, therefore, he was taken by emergency ambulance to Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Klinikos. The fact that due to serious health condition Rimas Antanas Ručys could not participate in the sitting of the Seimas was known to all the members of the Seimas who participated in that sitting; it was also known that, under such circumstances, he was unable to authorise other member of the Seimas to represent his interests. Disregarding the unforeseen circumstances that did not depend on the will of Rimas Antanas Ručys, on 24 March 2015, the Seimas adopted resolution (No XII-1560) on the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise (hereinafter also referred to as the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015), whereby it gave the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise .

3. The procedure under which the Seimas may give its consent that is provided for in Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution and without which a member of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have his/her liberty restricted otherwise, is laid down in the Statute of the Seimas. Under Paragraph 6 of Article 23 of the Statute of the Seimas, the member of the Seimas whose question is decided or a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her must participate in the discussion on the resolution by which the Seimas either gives a consent or it does not give a consent to hold the member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise. Due to such a situation where at the sitting of the Seimas, during which the question of removing the immunity of Rimas Antanas Ručys was decided, neither the member of the Seimas concerned nor a member of the Seimas authorised by him was present, it is to be assumed that the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 is, under the procedure of adoption, in conflict with Article 62 of the Constitution.

4. Without having ensured the possibility of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, to speak, the Seimas violated his right to defence and right to being heard, as well as the principles of a state under the rule of law, protection of legitimate expectations, and legal certainty that are consolidated in the Constitution. Every citizen of the Republic of Lithuania must be heard and have a possibility to defend himself/herself from the accusations brought against him/her before certain measures of negative impact are taken against him/her; particularly, in view of the fact that the ad hoc commission of the Seimas, having heard Rimas Antanas Ručys, was of the opinion that there was no ground to give its consent to hold him criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise.

II

In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written explanations were received from Andrius Palionis, a member of the Seimas acting as the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, in which the representative of the party concerned does not agree with the assessment of circumstances set out in the petition. The position of the representative of the party concerned is substantiated by the following arguments.

1. From the verbatim report of the plenary sitting of the Seimas, it is impossible to decide whether the statements set out in the petition are correct: whether the circumstances specified in the petition were really known by all the members of the Seimas who participated in the sitting, whether Rimas Antanas Ručys had a real possibility for authorising another person and this was known to the members of the Seimas, and whether the members of the Seimas and Algirdas Sysas, who was chairing the sitting, continued the sitting of the Seimas and adopted the decision notwithstanding the circumstances specified in the petition.

2. It is also not known what Algirdas Sysas, the chairperson of the plenary sitting of the Seimas, had in mind by stating that “there was a practice when we used to consider these questions also without members of the Seimas”. If he had in mind the case when the resolution of the Seimas of 9 April 2013 on the consent to hold Neringa Venckienė, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain her, or to restrict her liberty otherwise was adopted without the participation of the member of the Seimas, the representative of the party concerned notes that another member of the Seimas authorised by her participated and was heard at the said plenary sitting of the Seimas.

3. In addition, when adopting the impugned resolution at the plenary sitting of the Seimas, the members of the Seimas did not protest, neither themselves, nor on behalf of political groups, and did not request, on the grounds provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Statute of the Seimas or on any other ground, to make an unscheduled adjournment or postponement of the debate on the issue, even though they had such a right.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the following was received: the letter (No SR-1628) from the head of the Information Division of Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Klinikos of 31 March 2015 stating that, on 24 March 2015, Rimas Antanas Ručys was taken by an ambulance to the Admissions – Emergency Aid Department of Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Klinikos; the letter (No S-2016-2193) of the Office of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania of 4 April 2016 on amending the data in constitutional justice case no 8/2015, which was accompanied by, inter alia, an extract of 25 March 2015 from the register of visitors of the medical post of the Seimas.

IV

During the consideration of the case under the oral procedure, no representatives either of the group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, or of the Seimas, the party concerned participated at the hearing of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner, requests to investigate the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 with Article 62 of the Constitution.

2. In the operative part of the petition, it is not specified that it requests the investigation into the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 with Article 62 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law under the procedure of adoption; however, from the arguments set out in the petition, it is obvious that the petitioner had doubts not regarding the compliance of the contents of this resolution but regarding the compliance of the procedure of its adoption with the Constitution.

In addition, even though the petitioner requests an investigation into the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, inter alia, with all Article 62 of the Constitution, from the arguments set out in the petition, it is clear that the petitioner doubts if this resolution, under the procedure of adoption, is in conflict with only Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution that establishes: “The Members of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have their liberty restricted otherwise, without the consent of the Seimas”.

3. Thus, in this case subsequent to the petition of the group of members of the Seimas, the Constitutional Court will investigate whether the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 is, in view of the procedure of adoption, in compliance with Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

1. On 24 March 2015, the Seimas adopted resolution (No XII-1560) on the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise, which came into force on 26 March 2015.

This resolution established: “Pursuant to Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 22 and 23 of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania and with regard to the report of Darius Valys, the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania gives its consent to hold Rimas Antanas RUČYS, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise.”

Thus, the impugned resolution expressed the will (consent) of the Seimas on holding Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, detaining him, or restricting his liberty otherwise.

2. From the documents linked to the adoption of this resolution (inter alia, resolution (No XII-1536) of the Seimas on the ad hoc investigation commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania concerning the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise, the note of this commission of 13 March 2015, and the submitted draft resolution of the Seimas), as well as from the material of the case, it is obvious that:

on 23 December 2014, the Prosecutor General applied to the Seimas with the request to give consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise; in the letter (No 17.2-16907) of the Prosecution Service of 23 December 2014, it is specified that Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, has possibly committed a serious crime provided for in Paragraph 3 of Article 25 and Paragraph 4 of Article 226 (“Trading in influence”) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania and a less serious crime provided for in Paragraph 2 of Article 25 and Paragraph 1 of Article 222 (“Fraudulent management of Accounts”) of this code;

by means of its resolution (No XII-1536) of 23 December 2014 on the formation of the ad hoc investigation commission of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania for the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise, the Seimas decided to form an ad hoc investigation commission of the Seimas on the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise (hereinafter also referred to as the Commission) (Article 1) and to entrust the said Commission with carrying out an investigation by 18 March 2015 (Article 3);

at the sitting of 13 March 2015, having considered the information specified in the above-mentioned letter of the Prosecutor General’s Office, having heard the information provided by the prosecutor of the Organised Crime and Corruption Investigation Division of the Prosecutor General’s Office, and answers to the questions of the members of the Commission, as well as the explanations of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, and the advocates, his representatives, and the answers to the questions asked by the members of the Commission made a conclusion that the request of the Prosecutor General to give consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise was not substantiated enough and, thus, pursuant to, inter alia, Article 23 of the Statute of the Seimas, proposed to the Seimas not to give such a consent (the note of the Commission of 13 March 2015);

On 16 March 2015, the Commission submitted the draft resolution of the Seimas on the refusal to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise;

the consideration of the said draft was included into the agenda of the sitting of the Seimas of 17 March 2015; however, prior to starting its consideration, it was removed from the agenda of this sitting when adjusting it; during the sitting of the Seimas of 19 March 2015, an adjournment of the consideration of the draft was made, after which the consideration was postponed till the next sitting (verbatim report (No 219) of the sitting of 17 March 2015 of the VI (spring) session of the Seimas, verbatim reports of the morning sitting (No 220) and evening sitting (No 221) of 19 March 2015);

the draft resolution of the Seimas on the refusal to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise was considered and it was voted on its adoption during the morning sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, where the chairperson of the Commission and some members of the Seimas spoke; Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, did not participate in the said sitting; no other member of the Seimas, authorised by him, participated in the sitting either (verbatim report (No 222) of the morning sitting of 24 March 2015 of the Seimas VI (spring) session, starting at 11:54);

during the sitting of the Seimas, it was not clarified what the reasons of non-participation of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, were and the reasons of his non-participation that had been potentially known were not verified, as well as it was not clarified what his will concerning authorising other member of the Seimas to represent him was (verbatim report (No 222) of the morning sitting of 24 March 2015 of the Seimas VI (spring) session);

during the said sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, 32 members of the Seimas voted for, while 78 members of the Seimas voted against the submitted draft resolution of the Commission in which it was proposed not to give a consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise; therefore, with regard to the relevant parliamentary tradition, these results of the voting were considered as meaning that an alternative resolution on the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise had been adopted which granted the request of the Prosecutor General.

3. To summarise the specified circumstances of the preparation and adoption of the impugned resolution of the Seimas significant in the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that:

Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, and the advocates representing him were heard during the sitting of the ad hoc investigation commission of the Seimas concerning the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise on 13 March 2015; the Commission proposed to the Seimas not to give its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise;

neither Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, nor any other member of the Seimas authorised by him, participated at the sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, in which the question on the consent of the Seimas to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise was considered and the resolution was adopted whereby the Seimas gave its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise;

during the sitting of the Seimas, the reasons of non-participation of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, were not clarified; nor were verified the potentially known reasons of his non-participation as well as it was not clarified what his will concerning his representation by another member of the Seimas was.

III

1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, while investigating the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, by which Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, would be held criminally liable, detained, or his liberty would be restricted otherwise, in view of the procedure of its adoption, with the Constitution, it is important to elucidate the procedure for giving a consent to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise. This procedure is regulated in the Statute of the Seimas.

2. Article 23 “Waiver of the Immunity of a Member of the Seimas” (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) establishes:

1. Upon hearing the report of the Prosecutor General concerning prosecution, detention or any other restriction of liberty of a member of the Seimas, the Seimas sitting shall be adjourned for the period of not less than one hour and not more than two hours. After the adjournment the Seimas shall adopt one of the following decisions:

1) to form an investigation commission for the consent to hold criminally liable, detain or otherwise restrict the liberty of a member of the Seimas or

2) to initiate preliminary actions of the impeachment proceedings; such a decision shall be examined and adopted only in the event that the proposal of the subjects specified in Article 230(1) of this Statute exists.

2. If the Seimas decides to form an investigation commission for the consent to hold criminally liable, detain or otherwise restrict the liberty of a member of the Seimas, then the commission shall be formed according to the procedure provided for in Article 71 of this Statute. When investigating the issue concerning the waiver of immunity of a member of the Seimas, the commission must invite to a meeting of the commission the said member of the Seimas whose issue is under consideration and hear him or other member of the Seimas authorised by him, and a representative of the Prosecution Service. If the invited member of the Seimas or other member of the Seimas authorised by him fails to come to the commission meeting without a valid reason or he refuses to provide explanations to the commission, the commission shall have the right to adopt a decision in the absence of the member of the Seimas or other member of the Seimas authorised by him. Valid reasons why the member of the Seimas or other member of the Seimas authorised by him does not come to the commission meeting shall be the reasons laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, prescribing compulsory appearance of the participants at the proceedings.

<...>

5. After the investigation commission has prepared and announced its note and the draft resolution, the issue concerning the waiver of immunity of the person of a member of the Seimas shall be included on the agenda of the next Seimas sitting.

6. Consideration of this issue shall be limited to the interpretation, assessment or definition of the facts provided for in the motion and shall be set out in the resolution submitted. The discussion concerning draft resolutions shall be attended by the rapporteur of the commission, the member of the Seimas concerned or another member of the Seimas authorised by him, and no more than two members of the Seimas who speak in favour and two members of the Seimas who speak against the draft resolution. If the draft resolution approves the motion of the Prosecutor General, it may be adopted if more than half of the members of the Seimas vote in favour of the draft.”

Thus, under Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas, the procedure for giving a consent to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise takes place in two stages: the initiate consideration of the question of depriving a member of the Seimas of his/her immunity by the investigation commission formed by the Seimas and the final consideration of this question at a sitting of the Seimas.

Under Paragraph 2 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas, the question on the consent of the Seimas to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise is first of all considered by the investigation commission formed by the Seimas, which investigates if there is a ground to grant the request of the Prosecutor General. This commission has the duty to invite the said member of the Seimas whose issue is under consideration to a meeting of the commission and to hear him or other member of the Seimas authorised by him, and a representative of the Prosecution Service. It is worth noting that under Paragraph 2 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas, the investigation commission formed by the Seimas may adopt a decision without having heard the member of the Seimas whose question is decided or without having heard another member of the Seimas authorised by the member of the Seimas whose question is decided only in the case, if they do not participate in the sitting of the commission without an important reason (realising the important reasons in a way they are defined in the Code of Criminal Procedure) or refuse to provide explanations.

Under Paragraph 5 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas, the investigation commission prepares a relevant note and draft resolution to be submitted to the Seimas whose consideration must be initiated at the next sitting of the Seimas, having included this question into its agenda.

Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas establishes the procedure under which, at the sitting of the Seimas, the question on the consent of the Seimas to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise is considered and completed. In the aspect relevant in the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that by means of the legal regulation established in this paragraph, the discussion on the draft resolution of the Seimas which is prepared at the sitting of the Seimas while considering the question of removing the inviolability of the person is without reservations (provided that there are explicitly established exceptions) linked to, inter alia, the participation in the discussion of namely the member of the Seimas, the question of removing the inviolability of the person of which is decided, or the participation of other member of the Seimas authorised by him. By means of such a legal regulation, a member of the Seimas is ensured the right to be heard (directly or through other member of the Seimas authorised by him/her) before the question of removing his/her immunity is finally decided, as well as the preconditions are created for other members of the Seimas to decide properly (inter alia, asking that member of the Seimas or other member of the Seimas authorised by him certain questions that could determine their will for voting) before the final voting on removing the immunity of the said member of the Seimas.

3. As mentioned before, Paragraph 2 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas establishes that “valid reasons why the member of the Seimas or other member of the Seimas authorised by him does not come to the commission meeting shall be the reasons laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure, prescribing compulsory appearance of the participants at the proceedings”.

In this context, it should be mentioned that Article 37 “Important reasons of non-participation of a person in the criminal procedure” (wording of 13 March 2014) establishes: “The following reasons of non-participation of a person in the criminal procedure shall be considered as important: <...> the illness preventing a person from arriving when summoned confirmed by the certificate of the form established by the minister of health and addressed to the establishment of pre-trial investigation or a court (Paragraph 1); “Also a different reason of non-participation of a person may be recognised as important if an official of pre-trial investigation, prosecutor, judge of pre-trial investigation or court decides so” (Paragraph 2).

4. To summarise the legal regulation regarding the procedure for giving a consent of the Seimas to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise established in the Statute of the Seimas in the aspect which is relevant in the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that under the legal regulation established in Paragraphs 2 and 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas, a member of the Seimas the question of removing whose immunity is decided, or a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her, must be ensured the possibility of participating and being heard at the sitting of the investigation commission formed by the Seimas for considering the question of removing immunity, as well as at the sitting of the Seimas held to consider a draft resolution prepared and submitted by the said commission.

IV

1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, by means of which the Seimas has given its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise, with Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law under the procedure of its adoption.

2. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution prescribe:

The person of a Member of the Seimas shall be inviolable.

The Members of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have their liberty restricted otherwise, without the consent of the Seimas.”

The Constitutional Court has held that the system of the guarantees of both the work of a member of the Seimas at the Seimas and other parliamentary activity comprises, inter alia, the immunities of a member of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004). The provisions of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution consolidate the additional guarantees of the personal immunity of a member of the Seimas, which are necessary and compulsory for the proper performance of the duties of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation; the immunity of members of the Seimas, who implement the duties assigned to them under the Constitution and laws, must ensure that the Seimas will be able, without any hindrance, to perform the functions provided for under the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 8 May 2000); the right of a member of the Seimas to his/her liberty and his/her personal immunity during the established term of office may be limited only upon the consent of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 January 2001).

3. Under Article 76 of the Constitution, the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas are established by the Statute of the Seimas, which has the force of a law. The establishment of the procedure for the work of the Seimas also includes the regulation of lawmaking procedure (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 18 October 2000 and 15 February 2013). While establishing the procedure for the adoption of laws, the Seimas must respect the norms and principles of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 January 2005, 15 February 2013, and 19 November 2015). The Seimas is not only bound by the Constitution but also by laws adopted by itself (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 July 2002).

4. In the rulings of the Constitutional Court, it has been noted on more than one occasion that the provision of Article 76 of the Constitution that the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas are established by the Statute of the Seimas is linked to the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, under which laws shall be adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law.

When interpreting both of these provisions together, the Constitutional Court has held that when the Seimas and each member of the Seimas pass laws and other legal acts, they are bound by the Constitution, constitutional laws, laws, as well as the Statute of the Seimas, which has the force of a law (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 February 2008); the duty of the Seimas to follow the legislation rules defined by the Statute of the Seimas not only may but also should be treated as a constitutional duty because it is preconditioned by the provision established in Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 November 1993, 19 January 2005, and 20 February 2013).

The jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court adheres to the legal position that any essential violations of the legislation procedure established in laws and the Statute of the Seimas imply that the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, according to which laws are adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law, is also violated (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 28 June 2001, 19 January 2005, and 22 February 2008).

5. As noted in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 20 February 2013, not only laws, but also substatutory legal acts of the Seimas must be adopted in compliance with the rules for adopting legal acts, as defined in the Statute of the Seimas.

It should be noted that the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, under which laws must be adopted at the Seimas according to the procedure established by law, may not be interpreted only in a linguistic or literal manner as meaning that only laws must be adopted in accordance with the procedure established in legal acts. Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution should be interpreted within the context of the overall constitutional legal regulation, by taking into account, inter alia, the mission and functions of the Seimas as legislative power, among other things, the fact that the Seimas adopts not only laws, but also other acts of the Seimas (Articles 67 and 105 of the Constitution). When interpreting Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution in the context of the overall constitutional regulation, it should be held that a substantial violation of the procedure laid down in laws or the Statute of the Seimas regarding the adoption of any legal acts of the Seimas (inter alia, substatutory legal acts) concurrently leads to a violation of Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution.

6. The Constitutional Court has more than once held that the requirement, which stems from the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and other constitutional imperatives, for the legislature, as well as other lawmaking subjects, to observe the hierarchy of legal acts, inter alia, means that substatutory legal acts must be adopted on the basis of laws (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 6 September 2007, 18 April 2012, and 20 February 2013).

As held in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 20 February 2013, the fact where the Seimas does not comply with the Constitution and the Statute of the Seimas in the course of adopting substatutory legal acts means that the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, which implies the hierarchy of legal acts, is violated as well.

7. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the procedure under which the Seimas may give its consent that is provided for in Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution, and without which a member of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable, be detained, or have his/her liberty restricted otherwise, may be laid down in the Statute of the Seimas. In establishing such a procedure, the Seimas must pay regard to the norms and principles of the Constitution. The procedure (which is established in the Statute of the Seimas), under which the Seimas gives its consent to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise, is binding on the Seimas: while deciding on whether to give such a consent, the Seimas must follow the procedure laid down in the Statute of the Seimas. If the Seimas, when implementing its powers to give or not to give such a consent, inter alia, by adopting a concrete legal act by which the will of the Seimas is expressed, committed a substantial violation of the procedure established in the Statute of the Seimas, not only Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, but also Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution, which provides that the members of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have their liberty restricted otherwise, without the consent of the Seimas, would be ignored.

8. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, the following provisions of the official constitutional doctrine that reveal other parliamentary procedures – the constitutional requirements for fair legal proceedings applicable for the impeachment proceedings – should be mentioned:

one of the essential features of a state under the rule of law is the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals; the norms regulating impeachment must not only create the possibility to remove a person from office, but also to ensure the rights of impeached persons; it is possible to recognise impeachment proceedings to be in line with the principle of a state under the rule of law when they are fair; this means that individuals must be equal before both the law and the institutions carrying out impeachment, they must have the right to be heard and the opportunity that must be legally guaranteed in order to defend their rights; if the principles of fair legal proceedings were not observed in the course of impeachment, this would indicate the failure to meet the requirements of a state under the rule of law (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 May 1999);

the constitutional concept of impeachment implies fair legal proceedings, in which the priority is given to the protection of the rights of a person; the protection of the rights of a person is guaranteed only if the proceedings are public, the parties to the proceedings have equal rights, and the legal disputes, in particular those regarding the rights of a person, are decided by ensuring that the said person has the right and opportunity to defend these rights (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 11 May 1999 and its conclusion of 3 June 2014);

the requirement for fair legal proceedings gives rise to the duty of the legislature to establish a legal regulation that would create the preconditions for a member of the Seimas or a state official against whom impeachment is or has been instituted to defend his/her rights at all stages of impeachment proceedings; the requirement for fair legal proceedings implies the duty of the state institutions that have the constitutional powers in impeachment proceedings, i.e. the Seimas and the Constitutional Court, when they implement their respective functions in impeachment proceedings, to enable a person against whom impeachment is or has been instituted to implement his/her rights in impeachment proceedings (the Constitutional Court’s conclusion of 3 June 2014).

9. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, in view of the fact that the Seimas by its nature and essence is an institution of a political character, whose decisions reflect the political will of the majority of the members of the Seimas and are based on political agreements and various political compromises (the Constitutional Court’s conclusion of 31 March 2004 and its ruling of 27 May 2014), it should be noted that removing personal immunity of a member of the Seimas is a parliamentary procedure, which may not be deemed legal proceedings sensu stricto, since, during the said parliamentary procedure, neither the issue of the guilt of a member of the Seimas nor the imposition of a criminal punishment on a member of the Seimas is decided. At the same time, it should be noted that the decision of the Seimas to remove the personal immunity of a member of the Seimas with a view to holding him/her criminally liable, detaining him/her, or restricting his/her liberty otherwise gives rise to certain legal consequences for such a member of the Seimas and, in certain cases, determines a change in his/her legal status: the member of the Seimas may be held criminally liable or be detained, or may have his/her liberty restricted otherwise following the adoption of the decision to remove his/her personal immunity.

The additional guarantees of the personal immunity of a member of the Seimas, which are consolidated in the provisions of Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution and are necessary for the proper performance of his/her duties, are established in order that he/she is protected from persecution on political or other grounds due to his/her activity as a member of the Seimas; this immunity is not granted in order to create the preconditions for a member of the Seimas who is suspected to have committed a crime to escape criminal liability. The Seimas, when establishing and following the procedure for removing the personal immunity of a member of the Seimas, is also bound by the fact that, by means of crimes, inter alia, those of committing which a member of the Seimas is suspected, “the rights and freedoms of people, as well as the most significant good protected by law” may be grossly violated (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 13 December 1993), as well as by the fact that the striving for an open, just, and harmonious civil society and a state under the rule of law, as consolidated in the Preamble to the Constitution, and the general imperative (expressed in Article 28 of the Constitution) of observing the Constitution and laws means, inter alia, that crimes must be prevented, all committed crimes must be solved, and culprits must be brought to justice. Thus, a legal regulation governing the procedure for removing the inviolability (immunity) of a member of the Seimas must be such that, in the event that there is a ground to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, there would be no preconditions for the member of the Seimas to avoid criminal liability, since otherwise the administration of justice would be precluded. Under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 62 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the Seimas must establish such a legal regulation governing the procedure for removing the personal immunity of a member of the Seimas that would meet the requirements of the due process of law, as, for instance: issues concerning the rights and/or the guarantees of the activity of a member of the Seimas must be decided in such a way that ensures the right and possibility for the member of the Seimas to defend these rights and guarantees; a member of the Seimas the removal of whose immunity is decided must be ensured the right to be at least once heard directly or through a person authorised by him/her. In view of the fact that the consent of the Seimas to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise opens up the possibility of continuing criminal proceedings, the Seimas, when regulating the procedure for giving such a consent, may link the procedure for considering the question of removing the immunity of a member of the Seimas with the principles of criminal proceedings (with the requirements determined by these principles). As mentioned before, the procedure (which is established in the Statute of the Seimas), under which the Seimas gives its consent to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise, is binding on the Seimas: while deciding on whether to give such a consent, the Seimas must follow the procedure laid down in the Statute of the Seimas.

V

1. In the course of consideration of this constitutional justice case, the provisions of the documents of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), acting as an advisory body to the Council of Europe on the questions of constitutionalism, relevant in the constitutional justice case at issue, as well as acts of international law that are linked to the immunity of a member of the Seimas, should be mentioned.

2. At its 98th plenary session, held on 21–22 March 2014, the Venice Commission adopted the Report on the scope and lifting of parliamentary immunities (hereinafter referred to as the Report). In order to avoid the misuse of immunity, as well as selective and arbitrary decisions, and in order to ensure adequate transparency of the procedure, the Report develops criteria and guidelines on the lifting of parliamentary immunity (Item 1).

2.1. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue the following provisions of this Report should be mentioned:

the purpose of the immunity of a member of parliament is to protect parliament against undue pressure from the executive and the courts (Item 127);

rules on parliamentary inviolability should always be construed and applied in a restrictive manner; such rules should be subject to limitations and conditions (Item 185);

there should always be the possibility of lifting immunity, following clear and impartial procedures (Item 185);

the procedures for lifting parliamentary immunity should be clearly regulated and should comply with general principles of procedural law, including rights of both parties to be heard (Item 191);

the procedure should be comprehensive, clear and predictable, and the procedure should be transparent and known to the public; such procedures should not be made to resemble judicial proceedings, and under no circumstances should they assess the question of guilt, which is for the courts alone to decide. The procedures should always respect the principle of the presumption of innocence, as protected by the ECHR (Item 191);

national procedures on lifting of inviolability by parliament may include the following elements: the request should be assessed either by an appropriate standing committee or by a special committee, reflecting the political composition of parliament; the member concerned should have the right to be represented, either by another member or by outside counsel, the member concerned should have access to the documents of the case, and should have the opportunity to be heard and to present any document or other form of evidence deemed by the member to be relevant; the committee should make a proposal for a reasoned decision on whether to lift or maintain inviolability, making clear the criteria on which the conclusion is based; the proposal of the committee should be considered and decided by the plenary at the earliest opportunity and without any delay; this plenary session should be open and discussions should be confined to the arguments for and against the proposal (Item 194).

2.2. Thus, pursuant to the criteria and guidelines for removing the immunity of a member of parliament formulated in the Report, the immunity of a member of parliament may be removed by following clear and impartial procedures, inter alia, only upon hearing the Member of Parliament concerned.

2.3. In this context, mention should be made also to the Opinion on draft constitutional amendments on the immunity of members of parliament and judges of Ukraine adopted by the Venice Commission at its 103rd Plenary Session on 19–20 June 2015, in which it is emphasised that inviolability of a person of a member of parliament should under no circumstances protect against preliminary investigations, as long as these are conducted in a way that does not unduly harass the member concerned. The preliminary investigations may be crucial to establishing the facts of the case, and they have to be conducted while the case is still fresh, and not years later, after the expiry of the period of immunity.

2.4. In the opinion of the Venice Commission, the rules and procedures linked to the removal of immunity, which are applied, inter alia, at European Parliament level, reflect the European consensus on the way these questions should be regulated, therefore, they should be regarded also when a relevant question is regulated at the national level.

3. The issues of immunity of members of the European Parliament are regulated by the provisions of Protocol (No 7) on the privileges and immunities of the European Union, which is annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as well as by the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament.

3.1. The above-mentioned Protocol No 7 establishes that Members of the European Parliament may not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties (Article 8); during the sessions of the European Parliament, its Members shall enjoy, in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament, and, in the territory of any other Member State, immunity from any measure of detention and from legal proceedings; immunity shall not prevent the European Parliament from exercising its right to waive the immunity of one of its Members (Article 9).

3.2. The procedure of a waiver of immunity of a member of the European Parliament is established in the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, Article 9 whereof, inter alia, establishes that:

Any request addressed to the President by a competent authority of a Member State that the immunity of a Member be waived, or by a Member or a former Member that privileges and immunities be defended, shall be announced in Parliament and referred to the committee responsible (Paragraph 1);

the committee shall consider without delay, but having regard to their relative complexity, requests for the waiver of immunity or requests for the defence of privileges and immunities (Paragraph 3);

the Member concerned shall be given an opportunity to be heard and may present any documents or other written evidence deemed by that Member to be relevant; he/she may be represented by another Member of the Parliament; the Member shall not be present during debates on the request for waiver or defence of his or her immunity, except for the hearing itself; the chair of the committee shall invite the Member to be heard, indicating a date and time; the Member may renounce the right to be heard; if the Member fails to attend the hearing pursuant to that invitation, he or she shall be deemed to have renounced the right to be heard, unless he or she has asked to be excused from being heard on the date and at the time proposed, giving reasons; the chair of the committee shall rule on whether such a request to be excused is to be accepted in view of the reasons given, and no appeals shall be permitted on this point; if the chair of the committee grants the request to be excused, he or she shall invite the Member to be heard at a new date and time; if the Member fails to comply with the second invitation to be heard, the procedure shall continue without the Member having been heard; no further requests to be excused, or to be heard, may then be accepted (Paragraph 6);

the committee’s proposal for a decision shall be placed on the agenda of the first sitting following the day on which it was tabled; no amendments may be tabled to such a proposal; discussion shall be confined to the reasons for and against each proposal to waive or uphold immunity, or to defend a privilege or immunity; the Member whose privileges or immunities are under consideration shall not speak in the debate; the proposal(s) for a decision contained in the report shall be put to the vote at the first voting time following the debate; after Parliament has considered the matter, a separate vote shall be taken on each of the proposals contained in the report; if a proposal is rejected, the contrary decision shall be deemed adopted (Paragraph 8).

4. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, mention should be made of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice in which, by applying the provisions of the above-mentioned documents, the questions linked to the removal of immunity of a member of the European Parliament were considered.

The General Court, in assessing the lawfulness of the decision to waive immunity of a member of the European parliament, emphasised that the compliance with the provision the purpose of which is to ensure the internal smooth functioning of the Parliament and which therefore does not constitute an essential procedural requirement in the procedure for waiver of the immunity of a Member of the Parliament, and, thus, there is no reason to consider that the relevant decision is unlawful (Items 140–142 of the decision of 17 January 2013 in joined cases T‑346/11 and T‑347/11Gollnisch v. European Parliament).

In the same case, while deciding on the guarantee of the right to defence of a member of the Parliament whose immunity is under consideration, as well as the right to be heard, the General Court reminded that according to settled case-law, respect for the rights of the defence, especially the right to be heard, in all proceedings initiated against a person which may lead to a measure adversely affecting him, is a fundamental principle of EU law which must be guaranteed, even when there are no rules governing the procedure in question; the decision cannot be adopted on the basis of elements of fact and circumstances on which the person concerned was unable to put forward his point of view before the decision was adopted. However, as it was noted by the General Court, the right to be heard does not necessarily mean, however, that a public debate must be held in any proceedings initiated against a person which may lead to a measure adversely affecting him, therefore, respect for the rights of the defence and the inter partes principle does not mean that the adoption by the Parliament of a decision relating to the waiver of the immunity of a Member of the Parliament necessarily be preceded by a debate in plenary session. In the decision, it is held that if, under the established legal regulation, it is not provided for to hear the member of the parliament concerned at the plenary sitting in which a decision concerning the waiver of his/her immunity is adopted, however, the person concerned was heard in a relevant committee in which the question regarding him/her was considered, it should be considered that he was granted enough guarantees ensuring the right to defence and the inter partes principle, and there is no ground to held that his right to defence was violated (Items 175–183 of the above-mentioned decision in Gollnisch case).

5. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, mention should be made of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter also referred to as the ECtHR) in which the questions linked to the removal of immunity of a member of the parliament were considered.

The case-law of this court in cases concerning the immunity of a member of the parliament shows a clear tendency of application of Article 6 of the Convention, which guarantees, inter alia, the right to a fair trial, for the procedures of parliamentary immunity (for example, the judgment of 16 November 2006 in the case of Tsalkitzis v. Greece (application no 11801/04)).

In the case a member of the Parliament of Turkey impugned the immunity of a member of the parliament applied to him, the ECtHR emphasised that Member States enjoy a wide discretion in deciding the questions on removing immunity from a member of parliament and establishing necessary procedures. In this case, it was also noted that the applicant, as a member of the parliament, has a special status granted for legitimate purposes. Thus, while the delay inherent in the parliamentary procedure did affect the applicant’s right to have his case heard by a court, in delaying the proceedings it did not, in the instant case, impair the very essence of that right. The impugned immunity merely constitutes a temporary procedural obstacle to the criminal proceedings, by no means depriving the applicant of the possibility of having his case tried on the merits (Grand Chamber (ECtHR) judgment of 3 December 2009 in the case Kart v. Turkey, application no 8917/05).

VI

On the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 with the Constitution and the Statute of the Seimas

1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court investigates the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, by means of which the Seimas has given its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise, with Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law under the procedure of its adoption.

2. The doubts of the petitioner concerning the compliance of the impugned legal act with the Constitution are essentially based on the fact that at the sitting of the Seimas during which the question of removing the immunity of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, was decided neither Rimas Antanas Ručys himself, nor any other member of the Seimas authorised by him was present. Thus, the procedure of giving the consent of the Seimas, as established in the Statute of the Seimas, without which a member of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have his/her liberty restricted otherwise, was violated.

3. While deciding, whether the impugned resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, under the procedure of adoption, is in conflict with the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before in this ruling:

under Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, substatutory legal acts adopted by the Seimas must be adopted while complying with the rules of adoption of legal acts determined in the Statute of the Seimas;

the procedure under which the Seimas may give its consent, which is provided for in Paragraph 2 of Article 62 of the Constitution, and without which a member of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have his/her liberty restricted otherwise, may be laid down in the Statute of the Seimas, which regulates the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas; while deciding on whether to give such a consent, the Seimas must follow the procedure laid down in the Statute of the Seimas; if, while implementing its powers to give or not to give the said consent, inter alia, while adopting a relevant legal act by means of which the will of the Seimas is expressed, the Seimas commits a substantial violation of the procedure laid down in the Statute of the Seimas, this violation would be regarded not only as the failure to observe the Statute of the Seimas, but also Paragraph 2 of Article 62 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 2 of Article 62 thereof, the Seimas must establish such a legal regulation governing the procedure for removing the personal immunity of a member of the Seimas that would meet the requirements of the due process of law, as, for instance: issues concerning the rights and/or the guarantees of the activity of a member of the Seimas must be decided in such a way that ensures the right and possibility for the member of the Seimas to defend these rights and guarantees; a member of the Seimas the removal of whose immunity is decided must be ensured the right to be at least once heard directly or through a person authorised by him/her.

4. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be emphasised that if, compared with the Constitution, the Statute of the Seimas lays down more demanding requirements with regard to ensuring the immunity of the members of the Seimas, as, for instance, the requirement to ensure the right of a member of the Seimas the removal of whose immunity is decided, or the right of a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her, to be heard more than once, inter alia, specifically at that sitting of the Seimas during which the question of removing immunity is decided, then in these cases, under the Constitution, inter alia, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, the Seimas must comply with such requirements laid down in the Statute of the Seimas.

5. When assessing the compliance of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 in view of the procedure of its adoption, it is necessary to clarify if, during its consideration and adoption, no substantial violations of the procedure for giving consent to hold a member of the Seimas criminally liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise laid down in the Statute of the Seimas were made.

5.1. The following circumstances of the adoption of the aforementioned resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 are significant in the constitutional justice case at issue:

Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, and the advocates, his representatives, were heard at the sitting of the ad hoc investigation commission of the Seimas concerning the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise on 13 March 2015; the Commission proposed to the Seimas not to give its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise;

neither Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, himself, nor any other member of the Seimas authorised by him, participated at the sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, in which the question on the consent of the Seimas to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise was considered and the impugned resolution was adopted whereby the Seimas gave its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise;

during the sitting of the Seimas, the reasons of non-participation of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, were not clarified; nor were verified the potentially known reasons of his non-participation as well as it was not clarified what his will concerning his representation by another member of the Seimas was.

5.2. It has been mentioned that by means of the legal regulation established in Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas, the discussion on the draft resolution of the Seimas which is prepared at the sitting of the Seimas while considering the question of removing the inviolability of the person is without reservations linked to, inter alia, the participation in the discussion of namely the member of the Seimas, the question of removing the inviolability of the person of which is decided, or the participation of other member of the Seimas authorised by him; by means of such a legal regulation, a member of the Seimas is ensured the possibility to be heard (directly or through other member of the Seimas authorised by him/her) before the question of removing his/her immunity is finally decided, as well as the preconditions are created for other members of the Seimas to decide properly before the final voting on removing the immunity of the said member of the Seimas.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue it should be noted that this provision of Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas implies that at the sitting of the Seimas, when the question of removing immunity of a member of the Seimas is decided, a real possibility must be provided for that member of the Seimas or another member of the Seimas authorised by him/her to submit to the Seimas his/her explanations and to answer the questions of the members of the Seimas. A draft resolution of the Seimas on removing the immunity of a member of the Seimas may be considered at a sitting of the Seimas in the absence of the member of the Seimas concerned or a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her only in the event that they refuse such a possibility or the reasons of their non-participation at the sitting of the Seimas are not important (not justifiable). Thus, the Seimas has the duty to ascertain the reasons leading (or those that could lead) to non-participation of a member of the Seimas the removal of whose immunity is considered and decided in a sitting of the Seimas, or the reasons for non-participation of a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her in the said sitting of the Seimas; the Seimas also has the duty to assess and decide whether such reasons for non-participation of a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her in the said sitting of the Seimas when the said question is decided are important.

In this context, it should be emphasised that, as the Constitutional Court has noted before, the legislature has a duty to establish under what procedure the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) in these cases as well would be able to decide whether the reasons of the failure of that member of the Seimas to attend a particular sitting were especially important and justifiable (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 10 February 2005 and its conclusions of 27 October 2010 and 3 June 2014).

5.3. The specified circumstances made it clear that the draft resolution on removing the immunity of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, was considered and the relevant resolution of the Seimas was adopted in the absence of the said member of the Seimas or a member of the Seimas authorised by him, and that, at the sitting of the Seimas, no reasons leading to the absence of Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, were ascertained and no assessment was carried out as to whether any such reasons were important, or whether Rimas Antanas Ručys had a real possibility for authorising another member of the Seimas to represent him.

5.4. It is obvious from the material of the case and circumstances established in the case that, at the sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, in which the impugned resolution was considered and adopted, Rimas Antanas Ručys did not participate due to his health condition: after visiting the medical post of the Seimas, at 11.33 o’clock he was taken by an emergency ambulance to the Admissions – Emergency Aid Department of Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Klinikos (the letter (No S-2016-2193) of the Office of the Seimas of 4 April 2016, the letter (No SR-1628) from the head of the Information Division of Vilnius University Hospital Santariškių Klinikos of 31 March 2015). In this context that, it should be noted that as it is clear from verbatim report (No 222) of the morning sitting of 24 March 2015 of the Seimas VI (spring) session, the discussion concerning the consent of the Seimas to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise took place and it was voted concerning the adoption of the relevant resolution during the sitting at the Seimas at 11.54 o’clock.

The was no any data in the case indicating that Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, seeking to avoid participation in the aforementioned sitting of the Seimas, could act in bad faith or abuse the possibility of permitted non-participation in the sitting of the Seimas on the grounds of important (justifiable) reasons, i.e. to avoid participation in the said sitting due to other non-objective reasons (not due to the deterioration of health and thus being taken from the Parliament’s building by emergency ambulance to hospital).

5.5. In the light of the aforementioned circumstances, it should be held that while adopting the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, whereby the Seimas gave its consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise, the Seimas disregarded the requirement of the procedure for giving a consent that a member of the Seimas the question of removing whose immunity is decided, or a member of the Seimas authorised by him/her, must be ensured the possibility of participating in the discussion at the sitting of the Seimas held to consider a relevant draft resolution of the Seimas, which is established in Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 36 July 2008) and without which a member of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable, detained, or his liberty restricted otherwise.

Given that since non-compliance with the said requirement has resulted in the failure to ensure that the member of the Seimas the question of removing whose immunity had been decided could make use of his right consolidated in the Statute of the Seimas to be heard at the sitting of the Seimas, to provide his explanations, and to answer the questions of other members of the Seimas, as well as in the failure to ascertain what had been the reasons for the absence of the member of the Seimas concerned and whether these reasons could be considered important, it should be assessed that, the adoption of the impugned resolution of the Seimas amounted to a substantial violation of the procedure laid down in the Statute of the Seimas and, consequently, amounted to the concurrent violation of Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas.

6. Since under the Constitution, inter alia Paragraph 2 of Article 62 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, while giving the consent to hold a member of the Seimas liable, to detain him/her, or to restrict his/her liberty otherwise, the Seimas must follow the procedure of giving such a consent that is established in the Statute of the Seimas and the essential violation of this procedure is, at the same time, the violation of the provisions of the Constitution; and, having held in the constitutional justice case at issue that, while adopting the impugned resolution of the Seimas at the sitting of the Seimas of 24 March 2015, the violation of the procedure of the removal of immunity established in Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas was made, it should be held that also Paragraph 2 of Article 62 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, as well as the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, were violated.

7. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 62 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) in view of the procedure of its adoption.

VII

1. When interpreting Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has disclosed the content of the presumption of the constitutionality of legal acts and of the constitutionality of the consequences as a result of the application of such legal acts: the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, whereby a legal act (part thereof) may not be applied from the day of the official publication of the decision of the Constitutional Court that the act in question (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, means that, as long as the Constitutional Court has not adopted a decision that a certain legal act (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, it is presumed that such a legal act (part thereof) is in compliance with the Constitution and that the legal consequences that have appeared on the basis of the act in question are legitimate (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003 and 25 October 2011, and its decision of 19 December 2012).

Thus, under Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution, until the moment of the official publication of the Constitutional Court’s decision that a certain legal act (part thereof) is in conflict with the Constitution, it is presumed that the legal act (part thereof) in question is in compliance with the Constitution, and that the legal consequences (thus, for instance: under the relevant decision of an institution, adopted pursuant to this legal act (part thereof), a person acquired certain rights or relevant legal status or certain rights or relevant legal status were not granted to a person by means of a relevant decision of an institution) that have appeared on the basis of the legal act (part thereof) in question are legitimate (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 October 2011).

2. The Constitutional Court has held that the general rule has been established in Paragraph 1 of Article 107 of the Constitution that the legal force of decisions passed by the Constitutional Court is prospective and is not absolute (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 December 2003, 25 October 2011, and its decision of 19 December 2012). As it was noted in the Constitutional Court’s decision of 19 December 2012, the provisions of Paragraph 1 of Article 102 and Paragraph 2 of Article 107 of the Constitution, interpreted in the context of the fundamental constitutional values consolidated in Articles 1 and 18 of the Constitution, and in the context of the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution and the constitutional imperative of the rule of law, inter alia, give rise to the powers of the Constitutional Court as an institution administering constitutional justice and guaranteeing constitutional legality and the supremacy of the Constitution in the legal system, upon establishing in a constitutional justice case that an impugned legal act (part thereof) is not only in conflict with the Constitution, but also denies in essence the fundamental constitutional values – the independence of the State of Lithuania, democracy, and the republic, or the innate nature of human rights and freedoms – also to declare the consequences of the application of such a legal act (part thereof) as unconstitutional.

3. It should be noted that, having recognised the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 being in conflict with the Constitution under the procedure of its adoption, there was no ground for denying the legitimacy of the legal consequences that had appeared during the period when the presumption of the constitutionality of the resolution in question had been valid. This resolution does not essentially deny the aforementioned fundamental constitutional values, inter alia, the innate nature of human rights and freedoms, thus, there is no legal ground for recognising unconstitutional the consequences of the application of this act of the Seimas, inter alia, the decisions of other state institutions, the procedural precondition (condition) of the adoption whereof has been and is the consent of the Seimas to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, the member of the Seimas, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise. This, among other things, means that all the decisions (actions) of the competent state institutions adopted (taken) on the basis of the resolution of the Seimas of 24 March 2015 prior to the entry into force of this ruling of the Constitutional Court are to be considered legitimate in terms of the Constitution (the said decisions (actions) are to remain constitutionally valid).

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:

To recognise that the resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania of 24 March 2015 on the consent to hold Rimas Antanas Ručys, a member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, criminally liable, to detain him, or to restrict his liberty otherwise (Register of Legal Acts, 25-03-2015, No 04280) is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 62 and Paragraph 1 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, and Paragraph 6 of Article 23 (with the amendments of 3 July 2008) of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

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

Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė
                                                                      Vytautas Greičius
                                                                      Danutė Jočienė
                                                                      Pranas Kuconis
                                                                      Gediminas Mesonis
                                                                      Vytas Milius
                                                                      Egidijus Šileikis
                                                                      Algirdas Taminskas
                                                                      Dainius Žalimas