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On paying the remuneration of a member of the Seimas to the members of the Seimas who continuously fail to attend work at the Seimas

Case no 12/2015

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

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF PARAGRAPH 1 OF ARTICLE 151 OF THE STATUTE OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

5 October 2016, no KT26-N13/2016
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 – Daiva Pitrėnaitė

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1 and 531 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, at the Court’s hearing on 19 September 2016, under written procedure considered the constitutional justice case (no 12/2015) subsequent to the petition (no 1B-18/2015) of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, insofar as it does not establish the grounds and procedure for temporarily discontinuing (suspending) the payment of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas for the period that, under the Constitution, is regarded neither as the period during which a member of the Seimas performs the work of a member of the Seimas, which is specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and is remunerated from the state budget, nor as the period during which a member of the Seimas makes use of the right to annual paid leave, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Constitution, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

The arguments of the petitioner

1. The Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, was considering an administrative case concerning the award of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas to a person who had formerly held the office of a member of the Seimas and, after failing for a certain period of time to attend the sittings of the Seimas, had not been paid the remuneration of a member of the Seimas by a decision of the Board of the Seimas while, under Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, the remuneration of a member of the Seimas could, by a decision of the Board of the Seimas, have only been subject to reduction.

Having held that there were the grounds for doubting the constitutionality of Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court suspended the consideration of the administrative case by its order and applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of the impugned legal regulation with the Constitution.

2. The petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, is substantiated by the following arguments.

2.1. According to the Constitution and the interpretation provided in the doctrine of the Constitutional Court in relation to the constitutional provisions regarding the guarantees of the activities of a member of the Seimas, the remuneration of a member of the Seimas and its regular payment constitute an important element of the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas and a guarantee of the parliamentary activities of a member of the Seimas. The duty explicitly consolidated in Paragraph 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution for the Seimas to establish, by means of laws, a system of the guarantees of the work at the Seimas and other parliamentary activities performed by the members of the Seimas gives rise to the duty of the Seimas, in observance of constitutional imperatives, to explicitly regulate the grounds for paying the remuneration of a member of the Seimas in the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, the circumstances and procedure under which the remuneration of a member of the Seimas may be reduced or discontinued (suspended) on a temporary basis.

2.2. In the opinion of the petitioner, in implementing its constitutional duty to provide in the Statute of the Seimas for a system of the guarantees of the work at the Seimas and other parliamentary activities performed by the members of the Seimas, the Seimas has wide discretion, but it is bound by the constitutional imperative, consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution, under which the scope of power is limited by the Constitution and which means that the Seimas, as the legislator of laws and other legal acts, is independent to the extent its powers and broad discretion are not limited, inter alia, by the constitutional principle of responsible governance.

The legal regulation consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance imply the duty for the Seimas to explicitly provide in the Statute of the Seimas for such grounds and procedure for paying the remuneration of a member of the Seimas under which the remuneration of a member of the Seimas would be paid regularly while, in the event of a constitutionally justifiable necessity, it would be reduced or its payment would temporarily be discontinued (suspended).

Under the Constitution, if a member of the Seimas does not attend a sitting of the Seimas, or a sitting of a committee or another structural unit of the Seimas of which he/she is a member, the said time is regarded neither as the period during which a member of the Seimas performs the work of a member of the Seimas, which is specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and is remunerated from the state budget, nor as the period during which a member of the Seimas makes use of the right to annual paid leave, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Constitution. According to the petitioner, the Constitution would be violated by such a legal regulation under which a member of the Seimas would be paid remuneration for the time during which he/she fails to perform the functions of a member of the Seimas without a justifiable reason. Consequently, the imperatives consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the Seimas to explicitly provide in the Statute of the Seimas for the grounds and procedure under which remuneration would not be paid to a member of the Seimas for the time that is, under the Constitution, regarded neither as the period during which a member of the Seimas performs the work of a member of the Seimas, which is specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and is remunerated from the state budget, nor as the period during which a member of the Seimas makes use of the right to annual paid leave, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Constitution.

2.3. The importance of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas as one of the main guarantees of parliamentary activities and the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas determine that the said legal regulation must be laid down in the Statute of the Seimas explicitly; it may not be derived from an implicit legal regulation; in the absence of the clear grounds and procedure established in the Statute of the Seimas for reducing or temporarily suspending the payment of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas, a structural unit of the Seimas, inter alia, the Board of the Seimas, may not decide on reducing or temporarily suspending the payment of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas.

II

The arguments of the representative of the party concerned

3. In the course of the preparation of the case for the hearing of the Constitutional Court, written explanations were received from Vidmondas Vėgelis, adviser at the Private Law Unit of the Legal Department of the Office of the Seimas, acting as the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, in which it is maintained that the impugned legal regulation is not in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representative of the party concerned is substantiated by the following arguments.

3.1. The Board of the Seimas settles the organisational issues of the work of the Seimas that are not assigned under the Statute of the Seimas to other institutions or officials of the Seimas. It should be noted that, at its sitting on 24 May 2013, having assessed the actions of Neringa Venckienė in fulfilling the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, inter alia, in performing the duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the committees and other structural units of the Seimas, and having assigned the Office of the Seimas to temporarily suspend the payment of remuneration to Seimas member Neringa Venckienė (minutes No SV-P-33 of the sitting of the Board of the Seimas of 24 May 2013), the Board of the Seimas basically applied the analogy of law and followed the provisions of the principle of responsible governance. Such a decision by the Board of the Seimas can be viewed as an attempt to deal with the insufficiently legally regulated relations by applying the analogy of law in the specific situation, in which the Board of the Seimas, taking into account the note of the Commission for Ethics and Procedures on the attendance by the members of the Seimas of the sittings of the Seimas in April 2013, was obliged to take a concrete decision with regard to Neringa Venckienė.

3.2. In the opinion of the representative of the party concerned, in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, having not regulated the payment of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas for the period when a member of the Seimas does not attend the plenary sittings of the Seimas without any justifiable reason at all, the Seimas did not violate the constitutional principle of responsible governance. It is doubtful whether it is possible in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas or the Statute of the Seimas in general to exhaustively enumerate all the cases in which the payment of remuneration to a member of the Seimas would be reduced or temporarily discontinued (suspended), or other sanctions would be established.

3.3. Prior to the above-mentioned sitting of the Board of the Seimas on 24 May 2013, no uncertainties had occurred regarding the application of Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

The impugned and related legal regulation

4. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, insofar as the said paragraph does not establish the grounds and procedure for temporarily discontinuing (suspending) the payment of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas for the period that, under the Constitution, is regarded neither as the period during which a member of the Seimas performs the work of a member of the Seimas, which is specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and is remunerated from the state budget, nor as the period during which a member of the Seimas makes use of the right to annual paid leave, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Constitution.

5. On 17 February 1994, the Seimas adopted the Statute of the Seimas. This statute was amended and set out in a new wording by the Seimas on 22 December 1998 by means of adopting the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on Amending the Statute.

The provisions of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December1998) were on more than one occasion amended and/or supplemented, inter alia, by means of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania of 23 December 2005 on Amending and Supplementing Articles 10, 11, 16, 21, 32, and 78 of the Statute of the Seimas, Supplementing the Statute with Articles 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, and 161, and Declaring Article 19 Thereof as No Longer Valid.

6. The Statute of the Seimas provides for the structure of the Seimas and its work procedures and defines the rights and duties of the members of the Seimas.

6.1. Article 10 “The Participation of a Member of the Seimas in the Work of the Seimas” (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, prescribes that a member of the Seimas must attend the sittings of the Seimas (Paragraph 1); each member of the Seimas, with the exception of the Speaker of the Seimas and the Prime Minister, must serve as a member of some committee and participate in the work thereof (Paragraph 2); and a member of the Seimas must attend the sittings of the Board of the Seimas and the Conference of Chairs, as well as the sittings of the committees, commissions, and subcommittees of the Seimas on which he/she serves as a member (Paragraph 5).

It should be noted in this context that the Board of the Seimas and the committees and commissions of the Seimas are formed and changes in their composition are approved by a resolution of the Seimas (Article 27 (as amended on 10 October 2000), Article 44 (as amended on 27 June 2013), and Article 71 of the Statute of the Seimas); the Conference of Chairs is composed of the members of the Board of the Seimas and the representatives of the political groups (Article 28 of the Statute of the Seimas); and committees may form subcommittees for the execution of their main fields of activities (Article 47 of the Statute of the Seimas).

Thus, under the provisions of Article 10 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, interpreted in conjunction with the above-mentioned provisions of the Statute of the Seimas (wording of 22 December 1998 with subsequent amendments and supplements), a member of the Seimas must attend the sittings of the structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed by the Statute of the Seimas.

6.2. The impugned Paragraph 1 of Article 151 “Reduction in the Remuneration of a Member of the Seimas” (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas prescribes:

1. If a member of the Seimas fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend more than half of the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time, his/her remuneration of that month shall be reduced by one third. On the basis of the conclusions of the Commission for Ethics and Procedures, the remuneration shall be reduced by a decision of the Board of the Seimas. The sum by which the remuneration of the said member of the Seimas is reduced shall be deducted from his/her remuneration for the next month.”

6.2.1. Thus, Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas regulates the financial consequences for failure to fulfil the duty, consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 10 (wording of 23 December 2005) of this statute, for a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas: if a member of the Seimas fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend more than half of the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time, his/her remuneration of the next month must be reduced by one third by a decision of the Board of the Seimas.

It should be noted that the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas implies the following:

the duty of the Commission for Ethics and Procedures to ascertain the fact and related circumstances of failure by a member of the Seimas to attend more than half of the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time and, if it is found that the member of the Seimas failed to attend the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason, to submit an appropriate conclusion to the Board of the Seimas with regard to the reduction of the remuneration of the member of the Seimas concerned;

the duty of the Board of the Seimas to have regard to the conclusion of the Commission for Ethics and Procedures and, on the basis thereof (and other legally significant circumstances), in the case of an obvious fact of failure by the member of the Seimas to attend more than half of the sittings of the Seimas without an important and justifiable reason, to take a decision to reduce the remuneration of that member of the Seimas by one third.

6.2.2. In interpreting the impugned legal regulation from the aspect relevant to this constitutional justice case, it should be noted that the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, means that, in the case of continuous failure by a member of the Seimas without an important and justifiable reason to fulfil the duty consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 10 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, the remuneration of a member of the Seimas may not be reduced by more than one third, among other things, even in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously fails to attend not only the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time, but also other sittings of the Seimas.

It should also be noted in this context that neither the impugned Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas nor other provisions of this article or the Statute of the Seimas in general regulate the financial consequences for continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) by a member of the Seimas to fulfil the duty established in Paragraphs 2 and 5 of Article 10 (wording 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas for a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas: i.e. it is not provided that the remuneration of a member of the Seimas may be reduced if a member of the Seimas fails without an important and justifiable reason during a particular month to attend more than half or even all of the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

Thus, the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas also means that the reduction of remuneration for a member of the Seimas by more than one third or the non-payment (maximum reduction) of his/her remuneration is not allowed even in cases where the member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

7. The impugned Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas should be interpreted in the context of other provisions of the Statute of the Seimas.

7.1. Article 15 “The Remuneration of a Member of the Seimas” (as amended on 15 February 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, inter alia, prescribes:

1. The work of the Members of the Seimas, as well as all expenses relating to their parliamentary activities, shall be remunerated from the state budget.

2. The amount and procedure for paying the remuneration of the Members of the Seimas shall be determined by the Seimas. [...]”

Thus, under Article 15 (as amended on 15 February 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, the remuneration of the members of the Seimas for their work at the Seimas, as well as expenses relating to their parliamentary activities, are covered from state budget funds according to the procedure determined by the Seimas.

7.2. In interpreting the impugned Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas in conjunction with Paragraph 1 of Article 15 (as amended on 15 February 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas from the aspect relevant to the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, under the impugned legal regulation, even where a member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, the said member of the Seimas is, from state budget funds, paid the remuneration of a member of the Seimas that is reduced by no more than one third.

8. Thus, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, the Constitutional Court will investigate whether Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, insofar as this paragraph lays down the legal regulation under which remuneration for a given month may not be reduced by more than one third for a member of the Seimas who continuously fails during that month without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

II

The provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrine

9. Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution, which provides, inter alia, that the work of the members of the Seimas and all expenses relating to their parliamentary activities are remunerated from the state budget, and Paragraph 4 of the same article, which provides that the duties, rights, and guarantees of the activities of a member of the Seimas must be established by law, consolidate the constitutional foundations of remuneration paid for the work of a member of the Seimas.

In its jurisprudence (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 9 November 1999 and 1 July 2004, its decisions of 10 February 2005 and 15 January 2009, and its conclusions of 27 October 2010 and 3 June 2014), the Constitutional Court formed the broad official constitutional doctrine in relation to the remuneration of a member of the Seimas, inter alia, the establishment of its amount, and revealed the constitutional imperatives that must be followed in regulating the relations connected with remuneration paid for the work of a member of the Seimas.

10. The Constitutional Court has held that, under the Constitution, the members of the Seimas are professional politicians, i.e. such representatives of the Nation whose work at the Seimas is their professional activity (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004 and its decision of 10 February 2005). The activity of a member of the Seimas entails continuous work for which a member of the Seimas receives remuneration and the proper performance of which must be ensured by certain social guarantees and the special guarantees of parliamentary activities provided for under the Constitution and laws (the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 10 February 2005 and 15 January 2009).

10.1. The provision the “guarantees of the activities of a Member of the Seimas shall be established by law” of Paragraph 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution explicitly consolidates the duty of the Seimas to provide in laws for a system of the guarantees of the work at the Seimas and other parliamentary activities performed by the members of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 15 January 2009). The said provision of the Constitution implies the duty of the Seimas to provide in laws for such a system of the guarantees of the work at the Seimas and other parliamentary activities performed by the members of the Seimas that ensures the possibility for the members of the Seimas, as representatives of the Nation, to fulfil their constitutional obligation in a fully fledged manner (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004 and its decision of 15 January 2009). In establishing this, the legislature must pay regard to the norms and principles of the Constitution; the legislature, inter alia, may not establish any such guarantees that would unreasonably privilege the members of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004 and its decision of 15 January 2009).

10.2. Under Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution, a member of the Seimas has the right to receive the remuneration of a member of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004). Remuneration for the work of the members of the Seimas, as well as remuneration for expenses relating to their parliamentary activities, is an important element of the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas, and it should be considered the guarantee of the parliamentary activities of a member of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 15 January 2009). The provisions of Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution imply that the remuneration of a member of the Seimas must be of a sufficient amount and must be paid regularly; the same constitutional provisions also imply that it is not allowed during the term of office of the Seimas to establish, by means of a law, the remuneration of a member of the Seimas that is lower than that provided for at the beginning of the term of office of the Seimas; such a constitutional regulation of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas is established in order that the members of the Seimas, as representatives of the Nation, could properly fulfil their obligation (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 9 November 1999 and 1 July 2004 and its decision of 15 January 2009).

Compared with other members of the Seimas, different remuneration for the work performed in the capacity of a member of the Seimas may be established for a member of the Seimas who is appointed as the Prime Minister or a minister (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 9 November 1999 and 1 July 2004); remuneration of a different amount may also be established for the members of the Seimas if they perform: the duties at the Seimas that are provided for in the Statute of the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 9 November 1999), including the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas or a Deputy Speaker of the Seimas; the duties pursuant to the Statute of the Seimas in the governing body of the Seimas or in a leading position in a structural unit of the Seimas, or the duties in interparliamentary or other international institutions in cases where such duties may be assumed only by a member of the Seimas; the constitutional right of a member of the Seimas to assume the above-indicated duties at the Seimas implies the right to receive additional remuneration established by law for the exercise of such duties (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004).

10.3. Thus, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 4 of Article 60 thereof, the Seimas is under the duty to regulate, by means of a law, one of the guarantees of the parliamentary activities of a member of the Seimas – the payment of remuneration for the work of a member of the Seimas; while doing so, the Seimas must pay regard to the norms and principles of the Constitution, inter alia, the constitutional concept of the work of a member of the Seimas and the imperative, arising from Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution, to ensure the preconditions for the members of the Seimas, as representatives of the Nation, to properly fulfil their obligation. After assessing the constitutionally important circumstances related to the fulfilment (non-fulfilment) of the duties of a member of the Seimas, the legislature may lay down an unequal (differentiated) legal regulation governing the remuneration of the members of the Seimas, inter alia, having regard to whether a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation, properly fulfils his/her duties.

11. Under the Constitution, the main form of the work of the Seimas is participation in sittings (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 24 February 1994); each member of the Seimas must have the possibility of fulfilling his/her constitutional obligation to regularly participate in the work of the Seimas, the representation of the Nation, as well as the possibility of uninterruptedly performing his/her constitutional powers as a representative of the Nation (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 July 2004 and its conclusion of 10 November 2012).

As held in the ruling of the Constitutional Court of 1 July 2004, the continuity of the activity of the Seimas implies the continuity of the activity of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation; to attend the sittings of the Seimas is a constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas; the constitutional status of a member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation, implies the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, thus also his/her duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas. At the same time, it was held that such behaviour of a member of the Seimas when he/she does not attend the sittings of the Seimas without a particularly important and justifiable reason should be assessed as failure by the member of the Seimas, as a representative of the Nation, to fulfil his/her constitutional obligation; under the Constitution, such failure to attend the sittings of the Seimas cannot but result in ensuing legal consequences with regard to a member of the Seimas who does not attend the sittings of the Seimas without a particularly important and justifiable reason.

12. Revealing the constitutional concept of the continuity of the activity of the members of the Seimas, as representatives of the Nation, and the constitutional concept of their work, the Constitutional Court held in its decision of 10 February 2005, inter alia, the following:

the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to participate in the work of the Seimas includes, inter alia, his/her duty to participate in the work of the structural units of the Seimas of which he/she is a member and to perform other powers established for a member of the Seimas under the Constitution, laws, and the Statute of the Seimas;

the exercise of the powers of a member of the Seimas is not limited to the attendance of the sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas; the exercise of the powers of a member of the Seimas, thus also the work of a member of the Seimas referred to in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution, likewise includes such activities of a member of the Seimas when a member of the Seimas carries out the assignments of the Seimas and its committees or other structural units, as well as other tasks, represents the groups of the members of the Seimas in the cases established by law, etc.; the work of a member of the Seimas and his/her activities at the Seimas also include the exercise of those duties at the Seimas that are referred to in Paragraph 1 of Article 60 of the Constitution (inter alia, the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas or a Deputy Speaker of the Seimas; the duties assumed by a member of the Seimas pursuant to the Statute of the Seimas in the governing body of the Seimas or in a leading position in a structural unit of the Seimas; other duties that may be assumed at the Seimas only by a member of the Seimas; as well as the duties assumed by a member of the Seimas in interparliamentary or other international institutions in cases where such duties may be assumed only by a member of the Seimas); these activities of a member of the Seimas constitute the work of a member of the Seimas specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution; this work is remunerated from the state budget;

situations may arise where, due to particularly important personal circumstances or other justifiable reasons, for a certain period of time, a member of the Seimas cannot attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas of which he/she is a member, and/or cannot perform other duties of a member of the Seimas; this implies the necessity to establish a procedure according to which, in the said cases, such a member of the Seimas must apply to the institution indicated in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) for permission not to attend, for the given period of time, the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas of which he/she is a member, and not to perform other duties of a member of the Seimas for the said period of time; if the reasons specified by a member of the Seimas are particularly important and justifiable, the above-mentioned permission is granted; if such permission is not granted, the absence of a member of the Seimas from the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas of which he/she is a member, or failure to perform other duties of a member of the Seimas would be unjustified;

situations may also arise where a member of the Seimas is not able to notify the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) of his/her absence from a particular sitting before the commencement of the sitting; in these cases, the legislature also has the duty to establish a procedure under which the institution specified in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) is able to decide whether the reasons of failure by the member of the Seimas concerned to attend a particular sitting are particularly important and justifiable;

if a member of the Seimas does not attend a sitting of the Seimas, or a sitting of a committee or another structural unit of the Seimas of which he/she is a member – regardless of whether or not he/she notifies in advance of his/her absence following the established procedure, or whether or not he/she receives permission from the institution indicated in the law (the Statute of the Seimas) – the said time is, under the Constitution, regarded neither as the period during which the member of the Seimas performs the work of a member of the Seimas, which is specified in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and is remunerated from the state budget, nor as the period during which the member of the Seimas makes use of the right to annual paid leave, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 49 of the Constitution.

The above-mentioned provisions of the constitutional doctrine were reiterated, inter alia, in the conclusion of 3 June 2014, in which it was held that the mere fact that the members of the Seimas implement their right to draw up draft laws and other draft acts of the Seimas does not mean that they duly perform their duties of the representatives of the Nation; episodic participation in implementing part of the constitutional powers of the Seimas while passing laws may not be judged as the continuous activity of a member of the Seimas and as the proper implementation of the constitutional obligation of a member of the Seimas to represent the Nation, inter alia, as the fulfilment of the duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas and the sittings of its structural units.

13. As mentioned before, under Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution, the work of the members of the Seimas and expenses relating to their parliamentary activities are remunerated from the state budget. Thus, under Paragraph 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution, while regulating, by means of a law, one of the guarantees of the parliamentary activities of a member of the Seimas, i.e. the payment of remuneration for the work of a member of the Seimas, the Seimas must also pay regard to the imperatives stemming from the Constitution in relation to the use of state budget funds.

It should be noted in this context that, as held by the Constitutional Court on more than one occasion, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, gives rise to the requirement that state-owned property must be used sparingly, not wasted, and managed rationally (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 September 2003 and 5 July 2007 and its decision of 11 December 2012); all state institutions that have the powers to adopt decisions concerning the possession, use, and disposal of state-owned property must observe the norms and principles of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 30 September 2003 and 30 October 2008). Under the Constitution, the legislature is obliged to establish, by means of a law, such a legal regulation governing the possession, use, and disposal of state-owned property that ensures that this property is used for the needs of society and serves the public interest and the welfare of the nation; state-owned property may not be possessed, used, or disposed of in such a way that satisfies the interests or needs of only one social group or individual persons if this does not serve the public interest or the needs of society (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 September 2003).

It should be noted in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue that the concept of the proper possession, use, and disposal of state-owned property, inter alia, state budget funds, which is implied by of the Constitution, inter alia, by Paragraph 2 of Article 128 thereof, and the constitutional principle of responsible governance, give rise to the imperative to ensure, by means of a law, the reasonable use of state budget funds allocated for the remuneration of the members of the Seimas.

14. Thus, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 3 of Article 60 thereof, and the constitutional principle of responsible governance give rise to the duty of the legislature, in regulating the payment of remuneration for the work of the members of the Seimas, to have regard to the following requirements significant in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue:

the work of the members of the Seimas is provided for in Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and is remunerated from the state budget; the main form of this work is participation by the members of the Seimas in the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they are appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas;

the episodic or even continuous partial fulfilment of the constitutional powers of a member of the Seimas (such as drafting and submitting laws and other legal acts of the Seimas, meeting with voters, or performing parliamentary activities in other ways) in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously, without an important and justifiable reason, denies the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas (given that, as mentioned before, such sittings are the main form of the work of a member of the Seimas), i.e. in cases where a member of the Seimas is continuously absent from the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason, should not be regarded as the proper implementation by the member of the Seimas of his/her constitutional obligation to represent the Nation, i.e. the obligation for the implementation of which the members of the Seimas are remunerated under Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution.

14.1. It should also be noted in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue that the legislature, when implementing the duty, which stems from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 4 of Article 60 thereof, to regulate, by means of a law, one of the guarantees of the parliamentary activities of a member of the Seimas, i.e. the payment of remuneration for the work of a member of the Seimas, inter alia, when establishing the amount of such remuneration and a procedure for payment thereof, must take into consideration the above-mentioned constitutional imperatives, which imply the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas, inter alia, to attend the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas; in addition, the legislature must establish the financial consequences for continuous failure to carry out the said constitutional duty without an important and justifiable reason. The legislature has the discretion to establish various (fixed) amounts by which the remuneration of a member of the Seimas is reduced, the subject (the whole Seimas or its structural unit) that determines (applies) these amounts according to a particular procedure in a specific situation, and various grounds for reducing the remuneration of a member of the Seimas, inter alia, in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

14.2. It should be noted in this context that, in regulating the payment of remuneration for the work of a member of the Seimas in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, the legislature must also pay regard to the fact that, as held in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 January 2001, the recognition of parliamentary opposition is a necessary element of pluralistic democracy; the parliament must take into account the principle of minority protection (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 26 November 1993 and 25 January 2001). Therefore, the open non-attendance by the members of the Seimas of the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they are appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, in cases where such non-attendance is based on the views and political objectives of the parliamentary opposition, i.e. obstruction as a type of political protest and a method of parliamentary activity in an attempt to prevent the adoption of a decision that is unacceptable to a minority, under the Constitution, may be regarded as a rather important reason for not attending the said sittings in certain situations provided that such non-attendance does not take place on a continuous basis.

14.3. It should also be noted that the payment of remuneration from state budget funds to a member of the Seimas who denies the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas (given that, as mentioned before, such sittings are the main form of the work of a member of the Seimas), i.e. the payment of remuneration from state budget funds to such a member of the Seimas who is continuously absent from the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason, should be considered a constitutionally unjustified privilege.

As held by the Constitutional Court on more than one occasion, the Constitution does not protect and does not defend any such rights acquired by a person that are privileges in terms of their content; the defence and protection of privileges would mean the violation of the constitutional principle of the equality of the rights of persons and the constitutional principle of justice, as well as the constitutionally consolidated imperative of harmonious society, and thus also the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 December 2004 and 5 July 2007 and its decision of 2 July 2010).

15. It has been mentioned that, in this constitutional justice case, the petitioner impugns the compliance of the legal regulation under consideration with, inter alia, Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution.

Interpreting the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 5 of the Constitution, under which the scope of power is limited by the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has noted that, when preparing and adopting legal acts, the institutions of state power must comply with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which is consolidated in the Constitution; the Seimas, as the legislator of laws and other legal acts, is independent inasmuch as its powers are not limited by the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 12 July 2001 and 24 January 2003).

III

The legal regulation governing the remuneration of the members of the parliaments of foreign countries

16. It should be noted in this context that, as it is clear from the material of this constitutional justice case, the relevant legal regulation in foreign countries varies in relation to remuneration paid for the work of a member of the parliament in cases where a member of the parliament fails to attend parliamentary sittings; financial measures varying in severity for non-compliance with the obligation to attend parliamentary sittings are provided for in most countries.

16.1. For instance, under Article 38 of Act No 236/1995 of the Czech Republic on salaries and other benefits relating to the office of the officials of state authorities and certain other institutions, judges, and members of the European Parliament, if a member of the Parliament misses the sittings of the Chamber of Deputies and its constituent bodies without justified reasons on at least two days within a month, the monthly salary and the expenses of parliamentary activities of that member may be reduced by half and, if a member of the Parliament misses the said sittings without justified reasons on at least four days, the monthly salary and the expenses of parliamentary activities of that member may not be paid at all. Similar legal regulation is established in Article 7 of Act No 120/1993 of the Slovak Republic on the remuneration of certain constitutional officials: if a member of the Parliament misses parliamentary sittings on 2 or 3 days without a valid reason, his/her monthly salary may be reduced by half by a decision of the Speaker of the Parliament and, if a member of the Parliament misses parliamentary sittings on 4 days or more, his/her monthly salary and expenses of parliamentary activities may not be paid at all.

In accordance with Article 17 of the Act of the Parliament of the Republic of Finland, the Parliament may decide not to pay part or all of the remuneration of a member of the Parliament if the member of the Parliament does not participate in the work of the Parliament without a good reason, and may decide on the termination of the mandate of a member of the Parliament if the member of the Parliament continues to fail to comply with his/her duty to attend sittings.

16.2. Paragraph 1 of Article 15 of the Rules of Procedure of the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia, inter alia, provides that the members who miss the sittings of the Saeima without a valid excuse must pay a fine equivalent to 20 per cent of their monthly salary for each missed sitting; after the total amount of the fine has been deducted in one calendar month, the remainder of the monthly salary of the member concerned may not be less than the minimum monthly salary guaranteed by the state.

Article 23 of the Statute of the Members of the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic provides that any member of the Assembly who fails, without grounds for doing so that are duly justified, to attend any plenary session or voting that was scheduled in advance loses 1/20 of the monthly pay for each of the first, second, and third failures and 1/10 for any subsequent ones. Any member of the Assembly who fails without due justification to attend a committee meeting loses 1/30 of the monthly pay.

Under Article 24 of the Standing Orders of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, the Marshal of the Sejm may order a reduction in the salary and parliamentary allowance of a Deputy by 1⁄30 for each day of unjustified absence from a sitting of the Sejm or for his/her failure to participate in more than 1⁄5 of votes taken on a given day, also by 1⁄30 for each day of unjustified absence from a sitting of the committee when the number of these absences exceeds 1⁄5 of the sittings of the committee convened in each calendar month.

16.3. With regard to absence from parliamentary sittings, other countries (Belgium, Greece, Romania, and Germany) provide for less stringent financial measures, which generally do not lead to the loss of full parliamentary remuneration.

IV

The assessment of the constitutionality of Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas

17. It has been mentioned that, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, the petitioner, the Constitutional Court is investigating whether Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, insofar as this paragraph lays down the legal regulation under which remuneration for a given month may not be reduced by more than one third for a member of the Seimas who continuously fails during that month without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

18. In deciding whether the impugned legal regulation is in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of responsible governance and a state under the rule of law, it should be noted that, as mentioned before:

under the Constitution, when regulating one of the guarantees of the parliamentary activities of a member of the Seimas, i.e. the payment of remuneration for the work of a member of the Seimas, inter alia, when establishing the amount of such remuneration and a procedure for payment thereof, the legislature must take into consideration the constitutional imperatives that imply the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas, inter alia, to attend the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas; in addition, the legislature must establish the financial consequences for continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) to carry out the said constitutional duty;

the episodic or even continuous partial fulfilment of the constitutional powers of a member of the Seimas (such as drafting and submitting laws and other legal acts of the Seimas, meeting with voters, or performing parliamentary activities in other ways) in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously, without an important and justifiable reason, denies the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas (given that, as mentioned before, such sittings are the main form of the work of a member of the Seimas), i.e. in cases where a member of the Seimas is continuously absent from the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason, should not be regarded as the proper implementation by the member of the Seimas of his/her constitutional obligation to represent the Nation, i.e. the obligation for the implementation of which the members of the Seimas are remunerated under Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution;

the payment of remuneration from state budget funds to a member of the Seimas who denies the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas (given that, as mentioned before, such sittings are the main form of the work of a member of the Seimas), i.e. the payment of remuneration from state budget funds to such a member of the Seimas who is continuously absent from the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason, should be considered a constitutionally unjustified privilege.

It should also be noted that, as mentioned before, the constitutional concept of the proper possession, use, and disposal of state-owned property, inter alia, state budget funds, and the constitutional principle of responsible governance give rise to the imperative to ensure, by means of a law, the reasonable use of state budget funds allocated for the remuneration of the members of the Seimas.

19. It has been mentioned that the impugned Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas provides that, in cases where a member of the Seimas fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend more than half of the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time, his/her remuneration of the next month must be reduced by one third by a decision of the Board of the Seimas; it has also been mentioned that this provision means that it is impermissible to reduce the remuneration of a member of the Seimas by more than one third, among other things, even in cases where a member of the Seimas fails to attend not only the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time, but also other sittings of the Seimas; furthermore, it is impermissible not to pay (maximally reduce) the remuneration of a member of the Seimas even in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

Consequently, the legal regulation laid down by the legislature in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas consolidates the financial consequences for continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) by a member of the Seimas to fulfil his/her duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time; these financial consequences are only partly (are not fully) linked to the main form of the work of the members of the Seimas – participation by the members of the Seimas in the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they are appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, i.e. continuous failure to fulfil the constitutional duty to attend all the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason. Such a legal regulation privileges those members of the Seimas who continuously, without an important and justifiable reason, deny the constitutional duty of the members of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they are appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

20. It should be held that, having established the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, under which the remuneration of a member of the Seimas that is reduced by one third is paid from the state budget to a member of the Seimas even in cases where the member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to fulfil the constitutional duty to attend the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, the legislature did not follow the imperatives, stemming from Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance, in regulating the payment of remuneration for the work of the members of the Seimas, to take into account the constitutional duty of the members of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, as well as the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they are appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, and to provide for the financial consequences for continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) to fulfil this constitutional duty; in addition, the legislature did not pay regard to the requirement that it may not establish any such guarantees of the work at the Seimas and other parliamentary activities performed by the members of the Seimas that would unreasonably privilege the members of the Seimas.

21. In view of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be made that Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas, insofar as it lays down the legal regulation under which remuneration for a given month may not be reduced by more than one third for a member of the Seimas who continuously fails during that month without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, is in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

22. Having held this, the Constitutional Court will not further investigate in this constitutional justice case whether, to the specified extent, Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraph 4 of Article 60 of the Constitution.

23. It should be emphasised in this context that, by this ruling of the Constitutional Court, the legal regulation laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005) of the Statute of the Seimas is declared to be in conflict with the Constitution not on the grounds that, in cases where a member of the Seimas fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend more than half of the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time, he/she is paid the remuneration of a member of the Seimas that is reduced by a fixed percentage (by one third), but on the following grounds:

it is provided that a member of the Seimas is paid remuneration reduced by no more than a fixed percentage in all cases, even in the event of continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) during a given month to attend the sittings of the Seimas in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time;

the reduction of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas by the said percentage is linked to failure (without an important and justifiable reason) by a member of the Seimas to attend not all sittings of the Seimas held during a session of the Seimas, inter alia, those in which the deliberation of laws and other legal acts of the Seimas is scheduled in advance, but only those in which the vote on the adoption of legal acts was scheduled in advance and took place at the scheduled time;

the reduction of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas by the said percentage is not linked to failure (without an important and justifiable reason) by a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

Thus, according to this ruling of the Constitutional Court, the legal regulation governing the remuneration of the members of the Seimas should be modified so that it would provide for the appropriate financial consequences for the cases of continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) to attend all sittings held during a session of the Seimas, as well as would explicitly consolidate the possibility of applying the maximum (full) reduction (non-payment) of the remuneration of a member of the Seimas for continuous failure (without an important and justifiable reason) to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas.

It should be noted in this context that, as mentioned before, in regulating the payment of remuneration for the work of a member of the Seimas in cases where a member of the Seimas continuously fails without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, the legislature is also obliged to pay regard to the fact that the recognition of parliamentary opposition is a necessary element of pluralistic democracy; the parliament must take into account the principle of minority protection. Therefore, the open non-attendance by the members of the Seimas of the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they are appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, in cases where such non-attendance is based on the views and political objectives of the parliamentary opposition, i.e. obstruction as a type of political protest and a method of parliamentary activity in an attempt to prevent the adoption of a decision that is unacceptable to a minority, under the Constitution, may be regarded as a rather important reason for not attending the said sittings in certain situations provided that such non-attendance does not take place on a continuous basis.

24. It has been mentioned that the Constitution does not protect and does not defend any such rights acquired by a person that are privileges in terms of their content.

It has been held in this ruling that the payment of remuneration from state budget funds to a member of the Seimas who denies the constitutional duty of a member of the Seimas to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas (given that, as mentioned before, such sittings are the main form of the work of a member of the Seimas), i.e. the payment of remuneration from state budget funds to such a member of the Seimas who is continuously absent from the said sittings without an important and justifiable reason, should be considered a constitutionally unjustified privilege.

Therefore, from the point of view of the Constitution, no expectations protected by law to receive state budget funds allocated for the remuneration of the members of the Seimas could be or were created with regard to those members of the Seimas who continuously failed without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which they were appointed as members under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, and consequently failed to properly fulfil the constitutional obligation of the members of the Seimas to represent the Nation.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 531, 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 Paragraph 1 of Article 151 (wording of 23 December 2005, Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2005, No 153-5645) of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, insofar as this paragraph lays down the legal regulation under which remuneration for a given month may not be reduced by more than one third for a member of the Seimas who continuously fails during that month without an important and justifiable reason to attend the sittings of the Seimas, or the sittings of the committees or other structural units of the Seimas to which he/she is appointed as a member under the procedure prescribed in the Statute of the Seimas, is in conflict with Paragraph 3 of Article 60 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and responsible governance.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania 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