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On providing the spouse of a deceased President of the Republic with housing under a loan-for-use agreement

Case no 8/2017

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF PARAGRAPH 4 OF ARTICLE 23 OF THE law on the president OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 

15 December 2017, no KT19-N9/2017

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Elvyra Baltutytė, Gintaras Goda, Vytautas Greičius, Danutė Jočienė, Gediminas Mesonis, Vytas Milius, Daiva Petrylaitė, Janina Stripeikienė, 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, on 14 December 2017, at the Court’s hearing, considered, under written procedure, constitutional justice case no 8/2017 subsequent to petition no 1B-8/2017 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President of the Republic of Lithuania is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 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 arguments of the petitioner

1. While substantiating its doubts concerning the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter also referred to as the Law on the President), the Government, the petitioner, specifies that the legal status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State, which is consolidated in the Constitution, is individual and exclusive, it differs from the legal status of all other citizens and state officials; therefore, the exclusivity of this status determines the social (material) guarantees established for him/her in the Constitution and laws.

The Constitution does not establish any social (material) guarantees for the spouse of the President of the Republic. While establishing social (material) guarantees for the spouse of the President of the Republic or the spouse of a former President of the Republic, the legislature is bound by the constitutional principles of social solidarity, social harmony, justice, reasonableness, proportionality, equality of rights, and a state under the rule of law that are consolidated in the Constitution; the capabilities of the state should also be taken into account.

The petitioner notes that constitutionally justified are those social (material) guarantees of the family members of the Head of State or the persons accompanying him/her that are directly related to the official performance of duties when the Head of State fulfils his/her functions. Thus, certain material (social) guarantees are established in the Law on the President for the spouse of the incumbent President of the Republic in order that his/her spouse, while performing the functions established in the state and/or diplomatic protocol, could effectively assist the President of the Republic in performing the functions of Head of State. However, the social (material) guarantee established for the spouse of the President of the Republic by the impugned legal regulation, which is applied to him/her upon the death of the President of the Republic, is not linked to the official duties (functions) of the person accompanying the Head of State, therefore, it is considered to be a privilege, granted only as a result of the legal status of the person who performed the functions of the Head of State.

In this context, pursuant to the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 3 July 2014, the petitioner emphasises that the legal regulation, under which the mere fact that a person is the spouse of a person who belonged to a group of persons with a certain social status (the distinction of which is objectively justified) and who, by virtue of that status, acquired material and social guarantees is in itself a ground for acquiring social (material) guarantees by fact (only on the grounds of his/her social status – being the spouse) is to be assessed as consolidating the privilege on the grounds of the social status of a person. Meanwhile, the Constitution does not protect and does not defend any such rights acquired by a person that are privileges in terms of their content.

II

The arguments of the representative of the party concerned

2. In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from Seimas member Gintarė Skaistė, the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned. In these explanations, it is agreed with the position submitted by the petitioner that the impugned legal regulation is in conflict with the Constitution. The position of the representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, is based on the following arguments.

2.1. It is obvious from the title “Material and Social Guarantees for the President of the Republic upon the Termination of the Powers of the President of the Republic” of the impugned Article 23 of the Law on the President that it only establishes the social and material guarantees of the President of the Republic. Thus, the establishment of the guarantees for the spouse of a former President of the Republic unreasonably extended the circle of recipients of individual social (material) guarantees prescribed for the President of the Republic.

In view of the fact that the legal status of the President of the Republic, as the Head of State, consolidated in the Constitution is individual, and the social (material) guarantees linked to this status, which are established by means of laws, should also be individual and should not apply to the related persons. Only the application of the relevant social (material) guarantees to the persons related to the President of the Republic in the case of his/her death as a result of the office of the President of the Republic he/she held would be constitutionally justified.

2.2. No right to housing (residential premises) is established for other citizens of the Republic of Lithuania upon the death of their spouses. Therefore, the improvement of the conditions of one group of persons who do not have the legal status of the President of the Republic only as a result of their social status – being the spouse of the President of the Republic – may be assessed as a privilege on the grounds of the social situation (status) of a person.

Such a legal regulation violates the constitutional principles of social solidarity, social harmony, justice, reasonableness, proportionality, equality of rights, and a state under the rule of law.

2.3. The right to housing (residential premises) upon the death of the President of the Republic should be provided not only for the spouse of the President of the Republic but also for other persons specified in the Law on the President (Paragraph 7 of Article 17 thereof) who could, in the absence of a spouse of the President of the Republic, as well as in other cases, perform the functions of the accompanying person and other persons related to the performance of the duties of the President of the Republic.

Meanwhile, the legal regulation consolidated in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President, which excludes the spouse of the President of the Republic from other family members of the Head of State, the persons who accompanied him/her, and, while performing the respective functions set out in the state and/or diplomatic protocol, helped the President of the Republic to implement the functions of the Head of State, violates the principle of the equality of rights of all persons.

2.4. The provision of the social (material) guarantee consolidated in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President to the spouse of a former President of the Republic who acquired this status upon the expiry of the office of the President of the Republic also raise doubts concerning its compliance with the Constitution. In this case, the social (material) guarantee established by means of the impugned legal regulation for the spouse of the President of the Republic, upon the death of the President of the Republic, is not related with the official duties (functions) of the person accompanying the Head of State, therefore, it could be considered to be a privilege granted only due to the legal status possessed by the spouse prior to his/her death and not for the contribution of the spouse of a former President of the Republic to the implementation of the functions of the Head of State.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

The impugned and related legal regulation

3. As mentioned above, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Government, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with the Constitution.

4. On 26 January 1993, the Seimas adopted the Law on the President. The Law was set out in its new wording by the Law Amending the Law on the President of the Republic of Lithuania, which was passed by the Seimas on 11 November 2008.

The Law on the President establishes, among other things, the legal grounds for the activities of the President of the Republic, as well as material and social guarantees for the President of the Republic and his/her family members (Article 1).

In the context of the petition of the petitioner, it should be noted that the social (material) guarantees of the spouse of the President of the Republic were, for the first time, consolidated only upon setting out the Law on the President in a new wording of 11 November 2008.

4.1. The Law on the President consolidates, among other things, the following legal regulation connected to social (material) guarantees for the spouse of the President of the Republic who is in office:

where the spouse of the President of the Republic is employed, he/she is granted leave of absence from work to perform the functions established in the state and/or diplomatic protocol and is paid work remuneration for this period of time by the Office of the President of the Republic in the amount of not less than his/her average work remuneration (Paragraph 1 of Article 19);

the spouse of the President of the Republic is reimbursed for expenses relating to representation within the country and during foreign visits subject to being accounted for them, as well as the spouse is paid a monthly amount of 15 percent of the monthly remuneration of the President of the Republic for representative costs without accounting for these expenses (Paragraph 2 of Article 19);

where the President of the Republic has perished while in the office of President or the health of the President of the Republic has been impaired due to his or her injury, and he/she has become disabled, a lump-sum compensation of the established amount is, among other things, paid to his/her spouse (Article 17).

It should be noted that, as the Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 3 July 2014, the material (social) guarantees established in the Law on the President for the spouse of the President of the Republic in office are, in principle, consolidated in order that the spouse of the President, while performing the functions established in the state and/or diplomatic protocol, could effectively assist the President of the Republic in performing the functions of Head of State.

4.2. As mentioned before, the petitioner impugns Paragraph 4 of Article 23 “Material and Social Guarantees for the President of the Republic upon the Termination of the Powers of the President of the Republic” of the Law on the President.

4.2.1. Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President prescribes: “Where the President of the Republic dies while in office or after the expiration of the term of office, his/her spouse shall, if he/she so desires, be provided with housing (residential premises) under a loan-for-use agreement in accordance with the procedure established by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania”.

Thus, under this legal regulation:

a material (social) guarantee is consolidated for the spouse of the President of the Republic who is in office or upon expiry of his/her office;

this material (social) guarantee is provided only upon the death of his/her spouse, the President of the Republic;

the established material (social) guarantee is composed of the right of the spouse of the President of the Republic to be provided with housing (residential premises) under a loan-for-use agreement (if he/she so desires) under the procedure established by the Government.

It should be noted that this material (social) guarantee of the spouse of the President of the Republic was established irrespective of whether the spouse of the President of the Republic helped the President of the Republic to implement the functions of the Head of State while performing the respective functions set out in the state and/or diplomatic protocol.

4.2.2. In the context of the petition, it should be noted that Paragraph 3 of Article 23 of the Law on the President prescribes: “The President of the Republic shall, if so desires, be provided with housing (residential premises) under a loan for use agreement in accordance with the procedure established by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.”

In this context, it is worth noting that, as mentioned before, Article 23 of the Law on the President is aimed to regulate material and social guarantees for the President of the Republic upon the termination of the powers of the President of the Republic.

Thus, the material (social) guarantee established in Paragraph 3 of Article 23 of the Law on the President is granted to the President of the Republic whose powers have ceased.

The comparison of the impugned legal regulation consolidated in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with the legal regulation consolidated in Article 3 of this Law makes it clear that the material (social) guarantee provided for the spouse of the President of the Republic established by means of the impugned legal regulation is essentially identical to the material (social) guarantee entrenched in Paragraph 3 of the same article, which is granted to the President of the Republic whose powers have ceased.

5. In the context of the petition, it should be emphasised that the laws of the Republic of Lithuania do not consolidate the right that would be analogous to that of the spouse of the President of the Republic to be provided with state property under a loan-for-use agreement for temporary gratuitous management and use.

6. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should also be mentioned that, when interpreting the norms of international law linked to the legal status of the Head of State and his/her family members in its ruling of 3 July 2014, the Constitutional Court noted that:

under international law, in terms of privileges, immunities, and security guarantees, the status of the Head of State is special; and certain guarantees stemming from this status also apply to the members of the family of the Head of State who accompany him/her during official visits;

international law consolidates the diplomatic privileges and immunities of incumbent Heads of State and their family members who accompany them; however, it does not regulate any social guarantees of Heads of State (incumbent and former), nor those of their family members.

II

The provisions of the Constitution and the official constitutional doctrine

7. While assessing the constitutionality of the provision of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President, which consolidates the right of the spouse of the deceased (while in office or upon the expiry of his/her office) President of the Republic, if he/she so desires, to be provided, under the procedure established by the Government, with housing under a loan-for-use agreement, it is necessary to reveal the particularities of the constitutional status of the President of the Republic relevant in this constitutional justice case.

8. Article 77 of the Constitution stipulates that the President of the Republic is the Head of State (Paragraph 1), as well as that he/she represents the State of Lithuania and performs everything with which he/she is charged by the Constitution and laws (Paragraph 2).

8.1. While revealing the particularities of the constitutional status of the President of the Republic, the Constitutional Court has held that the status of the Head of State is acquired for the period established in the Constitution only by one person, i.e. the President of the Republic, who is elected by citizens of the Republic of Lithuania; the legal status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State is individual and it is different from that of the rest of the citizens (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 8 May 2000, 13 May 2010, and 3 July 2014); the legal status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State is individual and it is different from that of the rest of the state officials (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 June 2002, 25 May 2004, and 13 May 2010).

The individual and exceptional constitutional status of the President of the Republic – the Head of State – includes, as its inseparable part, the constitutional social guarantees of the President of the Republic (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 3 July 2014).

8.2. Article 90 of the Constitution provides that the President of the Republic has a residence, as well as that the financing of the President of the Republic and of his/her residence is established by law. These provisions of the Constitution are to be interpreted with regard to the fact that, under the Constitution, the legal status of the President of the Republic is individual (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 19 June 2002).

8.2.1. While interpreting the provisions of Article 90 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has noted the following:

these constitutional provisions mean that the activities of the President of the Republic are financed and his/her material and social guarantees are ensured by the state, that the funds necessary for this must be provided for in the state budget, as well as that the financing of the President of the Republic and of his/her residence must be regulated by law (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 June 2002 and 3 July 2014);

the provision of Article 90 of the Constitution that the financing of the President of the Republic and of his/her residence is established by law consolidates the guarantee of the financing of the President of the Republic and of his/her residence, and that the purpose of this guarantee is to ensure that the President of the Republic is able to properly perform his/her duties, inter alia, to properly represent the State of Lithuania; this constitutional guarantee means that the legislature has the duty to establish by law the financing necessary to perform the duties of the President of the Republic, which includes not only the financing of the activities and residence of an incumbent President of the Republic, but also proper financing, i.e., which is in line with the dignity and exceptional legal status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State, ensured for a former President of the Republic (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 3 July 2014);

under the Constitution, the legislature is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation that would deny the individual legal status of the President of the Republic, which is different from the legal status of all other state officials, and would create legal preconditions for equating some other person with the President of the Republic – the Head of State (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 June 2002 and 3 July 2014);

the constitutional requirements that the financing of the President of the Republic and of his/her residence must be established by law, as well as that it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation that would deny the individual legal status of the President of the Republic, which is different from the legal status of all other state officials, and would create legal preconditions for equating some other person with the President, also mean that it is not permitted to establish any such legal regulation that would create legal preconditions for equating some other person with a former President of the Republic; the legislature may, without violating the Constitution, establish the financing of a former President of the Republic, by taking account of the constitutional grounds upon which the powers of the President of the Republic cease, as well as of the fact whether the same person has not been re-elected or elected anew as the President of the Republic (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 19 June 2002 and 3 July 2014).

Thus, the exclusive constitutional status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State also implies his/her exceptional material and social guarantees, differing from those granted to other state officials and all citizens, as well as the prohibition on equating, on the basis of these material (social) guarantees, some other person with an incumbent or former President of the Republic. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that Article 90 of the Constitution, as interpreted in the light of the fact that, under the Constitution, the legal status of the President of the Republic is individual, gives rise to a prohibition on establishing such a legal regulation that would create the legal preconditions, when ensuring the material (social) provision, inter alia, connected with the financing of housing, to equate some other person, inter alia, the spouse of the President of the Republic, with a former President of the Republic.

8.2.2. While interpreting the provisions of Article 90 of the Constitution concerning the social (material) guarantees of the President of the Republic linked to his/her family members, the Constitutional Court has noted the following:

the constitutional guarantee of the financing of the President of the Republic and of his/her residence also means that the legislature has the duty to establish by law the financing necessary to perform the duties of the President of the Republic which also includes the funds that are necessary to cover the expenses of the person (spouse or another family member) accompanying the Head of State under the state and/or diplomatic protocol related to his/her assistance to the President of the Republic in performing his/her duties;

the provisions of Article 90 of the Constitution do not regulate the legal status of the spouse of the President of the Republic or his/her material (social) maintenance after the death of the President of the Republic; however, social assistance for the spouse and other members of the family of the President of the Republic is guaranteed on the basis of other provisions of the Constitution.

Thus, Article 90 of the Constitution does not establish, inter alia, any exclusive material and social guarantees for the spouse of the President of the Republic, which could be acquired on the basis of the status of the spouse upon the death of the President of the Republic.

9. As mentioned before, the petitioner impugns the compliance of the legal regulation consolidated in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution and with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

9.1. Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution prohibits the granting of privileges, inter alia, on the grounds of social situation of a person.

When interpreting, inter alia, the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has noted 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; the defence and protection of privileges would mean the violation of the constitutional principles of the equality of the rights of persons and justice, as well as the imperative of harmonious society, consolidated in the Constitution, 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, 5 July 2007, and 3 July 2014).

9.2. In the context of the petition, it should be noted that in its ruling of 3 July 2014, in which the Constitutional Court assessed the compliance of the legal regulation establishing the state annuity of the widow(er) of the President of the Republic with the Constitution, it formulated the following constitutional provisions of the doctrine of the equality of the rights of persons:

the mere fact that a person is the widow(er) of a person who had belonged to a group of persons with a certain social status (the distinction of which is objectively justified) and who, by virtue of that status, had acquired the right to receive social assistance (pension) is not in itself a ground to objectively justify such a legal regulation that would consolidate the right of the said widow(er) to receive, in the event of widowhood, social assistance (pension) that would, in substance, differ from that ensured for the widow(er)s of other persons; the deceased person’s social status alone is not in itself a constitutionally justified ground to ensure for the widow(er) of that person social assistance of a much larger amount than that ensured for other widow(er)s;

if such a legal regulation were established under which, on the grounds of the mere fact of becoming the widow(er) of a person who had belonged to a group of persons with a certain social status (the distinction of which is objectively justified) and who, by virtue of that status, had acquired the right to receive social assistance (pension), the said widow(er) were granted the right to receive such social assistance (pension) that would, in substance, differ from that ensured for the widow(er)s of other persons, that legal regulation should be judged as consolidating a privilege on the grounds of the social status of the person.

III

The assessment of the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with the Constitution

10. As mentioned before, the Government, the petitioner, impugns the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution and with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

11. The doubts of the Government, the petitioner, on the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with the specified provisions of the Constitution are virtually grounded on the fact that, according to the petitioner, the social (material) guarantee granted to the spouse of the President of the Republic upon the death of the President of the Republic, which is established by the impugned legal regulation, is not linked to the official duties (functions) of the person accompanying the Head of State, although only the material (social) guarantees related to their implementation could be constitutionally grounded; therefore, the established material (social) guarantee is a privilege; meanwhile, the Constitution does not protect and does not defend any such rights acquired by a person that are privileges in terms of their content.

12. It has been mentioned that Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President consolidates the right of the spouse of the President of the Republic who is in office or upon the expiry of his/her office, if he/she so desires, to be provided with housing (residential premises) under a loan-for-use agreement in accordance with the procedure established by the Government.

13. In this context, it should be noted that the petitioner substantiates its doubts concerning the compliance of the impugned legal regulation with the Constitution also by the fact that the legal status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State, which is consolidated in the Constitution, is individual and exclusive, it differs from the legal status of all other citizens and state officials; therefore, the exclusivity of this status determines his/her social (material) guarantees established in the Constitution and laws.

It should be mentioned that the exclusive and individual legal status of the President of the Republic, while ensuring the material provision related to financing of the residence, is determined by the provisions of Article 90 of the Constitution that consolidates the duty of the state to ensure the appropriate financing of the residence of both the President of the Republic who is in office and a former President of the Republic.

Thus, as it is obvious from the petition, the petitioner has doubts concerning the compliance of the impugned legal regulation with the Constitution also in the aspect that the above-mentioned regulation has possibly created preconditions to equate the spouse of the President of the Republic, upon the death of his/her spouse – the President of the Republic who is in office or whose powers have ceased – with the President of the Republic.

Thus, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Government, the petitioner, the Constitutional Court will also investigate the compliance of Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with Article 90 of the Constitution.

14. While assessing the compliance of the legal regulation established in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President that consolidates the material (social) guarantee provided to the spouse of the President of the Republic with Article 90 of the Constitution, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, Article 90 of the Constitution, as interpreted in the light of the fact that, under the Constitution, the legal status of the President of the Republic is individual, gives rise to a prohibition on establishing such a legal regulation that would create the legal preconditions, when ensuring the material (social) provision, inter alia, connected with the financing of housing, to equate some other person, inter alia, the spouse of the President of the Republic, with a former President of the Republic.

14.1. It has been mentioned that the impugned legal regulation established in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President consolidates the material (social) guarantee – the right to be provided with housing (residential premises) under a loan-for-use agreement in accordance with the procedure established by the Government – granted to the spouse of the President of the Republic who is in office or upon the expiry of his/her office, upon the death of the President of the Republic; this social (material) guarantee granted to the spouse of the President of the Republic is essentially identical to the material (social) guarantee in Paragraph 3 of the same article that is granted to the President of the Republic upon termination of his/her powers.

Thus, the impugned legal regulation implies that, under the Law on the President, the material (social) provision linked to financing of the residential premises (housing) may be granted not only to the incumbent President of the Republic or the President of the Republic upon termination of his/her term of office, but also to the spouse of the President of the Republic who died while in office or upon the expiry of his/her office.

14.2. Therefore, after the impugned legal regulation consolidated the specified material (social) guarantee for the spouse of the President of the Republic, the legal preconditions were created, when ensuring the material (social) provision connected with the financing of housing, to equate the spouse of the President of the Republic with a President of the Republic whose powers have ceased, thus denying the constitutional status of the President of the Republic as the Head of State, differing from the legal status of all other persons.

14.3. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President is in conflict with Article 90 of the Constitution.

15. When assessing the compliance of the impugned legal regulation established in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, it should be noted 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; the defence and protection of privileges would mean the violation of, among other things, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and the provision of Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution, which prohibits the granting of privileges, inter alia, on the grounds of the social status of a person.

It has also been mentioned that when interpreting, inter alia, the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has formulated the following provisions of the official constitutional doctrine of the equality of the rights of persons:

the mere fact that a person is the widow(er) of a person who had belonged to a group of persons with a certain social status (the distinction of which is objectively justified) and who, by virtue of that status, had acquired the right to receive social assistance (pension) is not in itself a ground to objectively justify such a legal regulation that would consolidate the right of the said widow(er) to receive, in the event of widowhood, social assistance (pension) that would, in substance, differ from that ensured for the widow(er)s of other persons; the deceased person’s social status alone is not in itself a constitutionally justified ground to ensure for the widow(er) of that person social assistance of a much larger amount than that ensured for other widow(er)s);

if such a legal regulation were established under which, on the grounds of the mere fact of becoming the widow(er) of a person who had belonged to a group of persons with a certain social status (the distinction of which is objectively justified) and who, by virtue of that status, had acquired the right to receive social assistance (pension), the said widow(er) were granted the right to receive such social assistance (pension) that would, in substance, differ from that ensured for the widow(er)s of other persons, that legal regulation should be judged as consolidating a privilege on the grounds of the social status of the person.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue it should be noted that the specified provisions of the official constitutional doctrine are to be applied mutatis mutandis also for the material (social) provision of the spouse of the President of the Republic related to the financing of housing.

15.1. It has been mentioned that the impugned legal regulation established in Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President consolidates the material (social) guarantee – the right to be provided with housing (residential premises) under a loan-for-use agreement in accordance with the procedure established by the Government – granted to the spouse of the President of the Republic who is in office or upon the expiry of his/her office, upon the death of the President of the Republic; this material (social) guarantee granted to the spouse of the President of the Republic is essentially identical to the material (social) guarantee in Paragraph 3 of the same article that is granted to the President of the Republic upon termination of his/her powers; this guarantee is granted irrespective of whether the spouse of the President of the Republic helped the President of the Republic to implement the functions of the Head of State while performing the respective functions set out in the state and/or diplomatic protocol.

As mentioned before, the laws of the Republic of Lithuania do not consolidate the right that would be analogous to the established right of the spouse of the President of the Republic to be provided with state property under a loan-for-use agreement for temporary gratuitous management and use.

Thus, the said material (social) guarantee is introduced by the impugned legal regulation solely because of the fact that a person becomes the spouse of the President of the Republic.

15.2. Consequently, such a legal regulation is incompatible with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution, which prohibits the granting of privileges on the grounds of the social status of a person, as well as with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

15.3. In view of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Paragraph 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 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 4 of Article 23 of the Law on the President of the Republic of Lithuania (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2008, No. 135-5234) is in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 29 and Article 90 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

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

Justices of the Constitutional Court:               Elvyra Baltutytė

                                                                                   Gintaras Goda

                                                                                   Vytautas Greičius

                                                                                   Danutė Jočienė

                                                                                   Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                   Vytas Milius

                                                                                   Janina Stripeikienė

                                                                                   Dainius Žalimas