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On organising and calling referendums

Case No. 16/2014-29/2014

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON REFERENDUMS WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 11 July 2014, No. KT36-N10/2014

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

Stasys Šedbaras, the member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania acting as the representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, a petitioner

Povilas Urbšys, the member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania acting as the representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned, in the part of the case subsequent to the petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, and Julius Sabatauskas, the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, acting as the representative of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned, in the part of the case subsequent to the petition of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, a petitioner

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, on 20 June 2014, at the Court’s public hearing, heard constitutional justice case No. 16/2014-29/2014 subsequent to:

1) the petition (No. 1B-27/2014) of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums, insofar as it provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Lithuania to assess the compliance of a draft law (amending the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania) with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be adopted by referendum, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, decisions precluding the initiative to adopt by referendum such provisions of a draft law (amending the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania) that would violate the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania itself, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law;

2) the petition (No. 1B-28/2014) of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, a petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Article 14 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums, insofar as it does not provide for the right of the Seimas to decide on calling a referendum where it receives the conclusion from a group of experts that the text of the decision submitted in the citizens’ petition to call the referendum may not be in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

By the Constitutional Court’s decision of 9 June 2014, the aforesaid petitions were joined into one case, and it was given reference No. 16/2014-29/2014.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, was considering an administrative case in which it was requested to annul the Decision (No. Sp-101) of the Central Electoral Commission “On the Refusal to Register an Initiative Group for Calling a Mandatory Referendum” of 7 April 2014, by which it was refused to register an initiative group of 23 citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who had the electoral right, for calling a mandatory referendum on a draft law amending Article 125 of the Constitution and the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Act “On Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union”, because the draft law submitted by the said group did not comply with the requirements of the Constitution and the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking; in addition, in that case, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania was requested to impose an obligation on the Central Electoral Commission, the defendant, to adopt, not later than within 15 calendar days of the coming into effect of the court decision, a decision to register the citizens’ initiative group for the referendum on the submitted draft law and to issue forms for collecting signatures.

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, having established that there was a sufficient ground to doubt whether the Law on Referendums does not contain a legal gap prohibited by the Constitution, suspended the consideration of the aforementioned administrative case and applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into the compliance of the Law on Referendums with the Constitution from the said aspect.

  1. The petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, is substantiated by the following arguments.

Article 10 of the Law on Referendums does not provide that the Central Electoral Commission may assess whether a draft law proposed to be adopted by referendum complies with the Constitution, nor that the Central Electoral Commission, after it establishes that a draft law proposed to be adopted by referendum does not comply with the requirements of the Constitution, may adopt a decision refusing to register the citizens’ initiative group for the referendum and refuse to issue forms for collecting the signatures of citizens. According to the petitioner, there are no such norms that would, in a clear and unambiguous manner, provide for the aforesaid rights of the Central Electoral Commission in other provisions of the Law on Referendums or in those of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Central Electoral Commission, either. In the opinion of the petitioner, the legal regulation that is relevant from the impugned aspect was laid down in the Law on Referendums by taking into consideration the importance of referendums and the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 July 1994, in which, according to the petitioner, the Constitutional Court did not consider what consequences could (or had to) arise as a result of the conflict of a draft law amending the Constitution with the Constitution if such a law were put to a referendum and were adopted. Thus, in the constitutional justice case at issue, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 July 1994 should not be invoked.

By invoking the official constitutional doctrine, the petitioner maintains that the Constitution consolidates certain limitations on the alteration of the provisions of the Constitution as well as lays down the cases where no referendum may be held at all, in addition to the requirements that draft laws proposed to be adopted by referendum should be in line with the Constitution; therefore, there is a need for a mechanism that would ensure the implementation of the duty to bring the said draft laws into line with the Constitution and would create preconditions for precluding the adoption and entry into force of the amendments to the Constitution that are in conflict with the Constitution. Thus, under the Constitution, it is necessary to establish such a legal mechanism through which a draft law (amending the Constitution) proposed to be adopted by referendum would be assessed from the point of view of its compliance with the Constitution, and, where such a submitted draft law would be incompatible with the imperatives stemming from the Constitution and, among them, with those imposing limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, the authorised institutions would be empowered to adopt decisions precluding the initiation of a referendum on those provisions of draft laws that would violate the Constitution itself. The duty to establish the aforesaid mechanism includes, among other things, the obligation to provide by law for concrete institutions and their rights and duties in carrying out an assessment of whether draft laws (amending the Constitution) proposed to be adopted by referendum are in compliance with the Constitution, as well as to establish the types of the possible decisions that may be adopted by these institutions, grounds for adopting these decisions, and the procedure for filing complaints against these decisions.

The functions of the Central Electoral Commission, its tasks, rights, powers, the procedure for its formation, the guarantees of its independence, the procedure for the adoption of its decisions, the possibility, as consolidated by law, of filing complaints against its decisions with a court, as well as other aspects disclosing its status, provide preconditions for maintaining that namely the Central Electoral Commission should be given the powers to adopt decisions precluding the initiation of referendums on such provisions of draft laws (amending the Constitution) the adoption of which would violate the Constitution itself and, first of all, the imperative of its internal harmony. According to the petitioner, since the Central Electoral Commission decides on the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum and on the issuance of forms for collecting the signatures of citizens, it would be most appropriate if namely the Central Electoral Commission could, as early as during the first stage of the initiation of a referendum, preclude the adoption of the provisions of a law (amending the Constitution) that are in conflict with the Constitution (this would make it possible to avoid collecting the signatures of citizens and conducting other procedures related to the initiation and organisation or conduct of a referendum without having sufficient grounds for doing so), while the lawfulness and validity of the decisions of this commission could, among other things, be verified in a court.

Thus, the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution give rise to the necessity to confer on the Central Electoral Commission the powers to assess whether a draft law (amending the Constitution) proposed to be adopted by referendum is in compliance with the Constitution, as well as the powers to adopt a decision refusing to allow the initiation of a referendum on those provisions of a draft law (amending the Constitution) that would violate the Constitution itself. These powers may be established only in the Law on Referendums (in particular, in Article 10 thereof, which regulates the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum), however, they are not provided for in this legal act in a clear and concrete manner, as required under the principles of public law; therefore, the petitioner doubts whether the Law on Referendums does not contain a legislative omission, i.e., such a legal gap that is prohibited by the Constitution.

II

  1. On 10 April 2014, the Seimas, a petitioner, passed the Resolution (No. XII-819) “On the Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania for an Investigation into Whether Article 14 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums Is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania”, in Article 1 whereof, the Seimas set forth its petition requesting an investigation into whether Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it does not provide for the right of the Seimas to decide on calling a referendum where it receives the conclusion from a group of experts that the text of the decision submitted in the citizens’ petition to call the referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The petition of the Seimas, a petitioner, was received at the Constitutional Court on 16 April 2014.

  1. By its Decision “On Accepting the Petition Set Forth in the 10 April 2014 Resolution (No. XII-819) ‘On the Application to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania for an Investigation into Whether Article 14 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums Is Not in Conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania’ of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the Petitioner” of 17 April 2014, the Constitutional Court decided to accept the said petition of the Seimas.
  2. The announcement of the President of the Constitutional Court on accepting the aforesaid petition was officially published in the Register of Legal Acts (Register of Legal Acts, 17-04-2014, No. 4508) on 17 April 2014. As from that day until the publication of the Constitutional Court’s ruling in this constitutional justice case, the validity of Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, adopted by the Seimas on 4 June 2002, is suspended.
  3. The petition of the Seimas, a petitioner, is substantiated by the following arguments.

When substantiating the doubts regarding the constitutionality of the impugned legal regulation, the petitioner points out that the provision “[t]he Constitution shall be an integral and directly applicable act” of Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution, as well as Paragraph 1 of Article 7 thereof, according to which any law or any other act contrary to the Constitution is invalid, consolidates the place of the Constitution, as the legal act of supreme power, in the hierarchy of the legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania, while all the subjects of state and local power are obliged to ensure that this hierarchy is not violated. Thus, the said subjects are obliged, within the competence assigned to them under legal acts, to ensure that no legal acts that are contrary to the Constitution (and thus violate the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, which is a fundamental requirement for a state under the rule of law) are adopted.

The impugned provisions of the Law on Referendums imply that, even after a group of experts, formed by the Seimas itself, submits to the Seimas the conclusion that the text of the decision in a citizens’ petition to call a referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, the Seimas may not consider that question and has no possibility of precluding the adoption of the law or another legal act that is contrary to the Constitution. The provisions of the Law on Referendums allow the Seimas to decide only on the question of the announcement of a date for a referendum, and, only after the entry into force of a law adopted by referendum, the Seimas may apply to the Constitutional Court for an investigation into whether the law adopted by referendum is not in conflict with the Constitution. Thus, under the impugned legal regulation, the Seimas cannot fulfil its constitutional duty—not to violate the Constitution. The petitioner, among other things, notes that Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution does not imperatively establish that the Seimas is in all cases obliged to call a referendum where a sufficient number of the signatures of citizens with the electoral right has been collected, and, under Paragraph 4 of the same article, namely the Seimas, as the representation of the nation, is granted the right to establish how the procedures for calling and conducting a referendum must be carried out, regardless of who the subject is that is initiating the calling of a referendum.

Thus, the petitioner doubts whether Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, as adopted on 4 June 2002, insofar as it does not provide for the right of the Seimas to decide on calling a referendum where it receives the conclusion from a group of experts that the text of the decision submitted in the citizens’ petition to call the referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

III

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from Povilas Urbšys, the member of the Seimas acting as a representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, in which, in substance, it is maintained that the Law on Referendums (in particular, Article 10 thereof) regulates the powers of the Central Electoral Commission in such a manner that it does not contain any legal gap prohibited by the Constitution, which is indicated by the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner. The position of the representative of the Seimas is substantiated by the following arguments.1. The concept, nature, and purpose of the Constitution, the stability of the Constitution as a constitutional value, and the imperative of the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution imply certain substantive and procedural limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, which must equally be observed where the Constitution is amended by referendum. The Constitution, the Law on Referendums, which regulates the organisation and conduct of referendums, and the Statute of the Seimas consolidate the legal regulation that precludes the possibility of adopting by referendum such amendments to the Constitution that would violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and the harmony of the values consolidated in the provisions of the Constitution (for example, it is prescribed that: it is necessary to collect a certain number of the signatures of citizens supporting the petition for calling a referendum; these signatures must be collected within a three-month period; certain provisions of the Constitution may be altered only by referendum; a mandatory referendum is deemed to have taken place only if a certain number of citizens who have the electoral right and have been registered on electoral rolls have participated in it; certain provisions of the Constitution may be altered only if this is approved by the established qualified majority of all citizens who have the electoral right and have been registered on electoral rolls). The provisions of the Statute of the Seimas designed to regulate the internal preventive control of the legal acts adopted by the Seimas (from the aspect relevant to the constitutional justice case at issue—the internal preventive control of the draft resolutions of the Seimas on calling referendums) similarly provide for analogous measures. In the cases where, upon a petition of not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right, the Seimas would call a referendum on such a draft law amending the Constitution that would be in conflict with the Constitution, the Constitution provides for the possibility of reviewing the compliance of such a resolution of the Seimas with the Constitution; in addition, the provisions of the Constitution imply the powers of the Constitutional Court to review the compliance of the amendments adopted to the Constitution by referendum with the requirements stemming from the Constitution. Thus, the Constitution itself, the Law on Referendums, and the Statute of the Seimas consolidate the legal mechanism precluding the adoption of such amendments to the Constitution that would be in conflict with the Constitution.2. Under the Constitution, the right of initiative to call a referendum is one of the guarantees for implementing the sovereignty of the nation; it is also a value defended by the Constitution, as well as an inseparable feature of a democratic order and a significant condition for implementing the striving, as consolidated in the Constitution, for an open, just, and harmonious civil society and the state under the rule of law. The referendum process comprises several stages: initiating and calling a referendum, conducting the referendum, and establishing and announcing the referendum results. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Law on Referendums, the right of initiative to call a referendum belongs to citizens and the Seimas; however, a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, which is formed in order to implement the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum, is not in itself a subject calling a referendum, since there is no initiative to call a referendum as such unless a petition for calling the referendum is signed by at least 300,000 citizens with the electoral right. Decisions regarding the implementation of the right of initiative to call a referendum are adopted by two subjects—the Central Electoral Commission and the Seimas, whose powers, as consolidated in the Law on Referendums, differ. The Law on Referendums does not provide that a draft law amending the Constitution, where such a draft law is proposed by a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, may be assessed from the aspect of its compliance with the Constitution at the stage of the registration of the said group of citizens by the Central Electoral Commission; however, the law consolidates the necessity to carry out such an assessment at the stage of calling a referendum, before the Seimas adopts a resolution on calling a referendum, with a view to ensuring the internal preventive control of the legal acts adopted by the Seimas. If the implementation of the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum were determined by a decision of the Central Electoral Commission refusing to register a citizens’ initiative group, formed for implementing the said right, because of the fact that a draft law proposed by that group on amending the Constitution were in conflict with the Constitution, this would mean that the conditions not provided for by the Constitution would be established for implementing the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum, as well as that the implementation of the said right would be discontinued at the initial stage. On the other hand, if a citizens’ initiative to call a referendum were discontinued before at least 300,000 signatures of citizens with the electoral right were collected or where the Central Electoral Commission exercised its powers to refuse to register the citizens’ initiative group for the referendum, provided such powers were granted to it, the initiative to call the referendum could be implemented indirectly—through a group of members of the Seimas, comprised of at least 1/4 of all the members of the Seimas, which can put forward to the Seimas a proposal to call a referendum on an analogous amendment to the Constitution.3. The right of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum to collect the signatures of citizens supporting a petition for calling a referendum on amending the Constitution may be limited by a preliminary decision (permission) of the Central Electoral Commission neither in the cases where, in the opinion of the Central Electoral Commission, a proposed draft law amending the Constitution complies with the Constitution nor where it does not comply with the Constitution. In addition, such a decision of the Central Electoral Commission would prevent other citizens, not related to the citizens’ initiative group for the referendum concerned, from expressing their will on both the petition to call the referendum and the substance of a particular amendment to the Constitution, as proposed by the said initiative group, i.e., the latter citizens would be prevented from giving or not giving their signatures in support of the petition of the said citizens’ initiative group to call a referendum on a certain draft amendment to the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees its citizens the opportunity to express their will in support of, or against, a referendum in the following two ways: by supporting or refusing to support a particular petition for calling a referendum, or by directly expressing their will in a referendum (by voting, in a corresponding manner, on a proposed draft amendment to the Constitution). The Constitution gives rise, among other things, to the requirement that its citizens be ensured the right to participate in all the stages of initiating and organising a referendum, the right to be informed about a referendum proposed by a citizens’ initiative group to be called on amending the Constitution, the right to sign or not to sign a petition to call a referendum on amending the Constitution, etc.4. The Constitution does not prescribe that only the Central Electoral Commission, which is formed by the Seimas, is given the exclusive competence to organise and conduct referendums. This function, according to the representative of the party concerned, may be performed by another state institution founded by law, which would implement the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Law on Referendums, indicated in Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Law on the List of Constitutional Laws, as adopted by the Seimas on 15 March 2012. In addition, the assessment of the compliance of amendments to the Constitution with the Constitution is inseparable from the function of construction of the Constitution, while the status of the Central Electoral Commission, its purpose, the procedure for its formation, the features of its activity, and its place in the system of state institutions are not related to the powers to perform the function of preliminary constitutional review. This function is performed by the institution, formed according to the principle of professionalism, whose activity is ensured by certain established guarantees as well as by limitations set on its work and political activities, and whose decisions may not be influenced by the change of its composition following elections of the Seimas, etc.

IV

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written opinions were received from Vaidotas A. Vaičaitis, Assoc. Prof. Dr. at the Department of Public Law of the Faculty of Law of Vilnius University, and Prof. Dr. Rima Ažubalytė, the Dean of the Faculty of Law of Mykolas Romeris University.

V

  1. At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, Stasys Šedbaras, the member of the Seimas acting as the representative of the Seimas, a petitioner, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in the petition and answered the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court.
  2. At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, Povilas Urbšys, the member of the Seimas acting as a representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, virtually reiterated the arguments set forth in his written explanations and answered the questions of the justices of the Constitutional Court.
  3. At the Constitutional Court’s hearing, Julius Sabatauskas, the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas, acting as a representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, maintained that Article 14 of the Law on Referendums is not in conflict with the Constitution. The explanations provided at the Constitutional Court’s hearing by this representative of the Seimas, the party concerned, regarding the compliance of the impugned legal regulation established in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums with the Constitution were, in substance, substantiated by the following arguments.

The direct participation of citizens in governing their country is a particularly important expression of the supreme sovereign power of the nation; the subject who is adopting a decision (among other things, a draft law or any other draft legal act) proposed to be put to a referendum is the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania, who are directly implementing the supreme sovereign power granted to them. The legal guarantee of the sovereignty of the nation, as consolidated in Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution, according to which a referendum is called if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request, is an independent ground for calling a referendum, while the law may also provide for other cases where a referendum is called. Paragraph 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution, according to which the procedure for calling and conducting a referendum is established by law, does not give the Seimas the right to establish by law the cases where the Seimas is allowed not to call a referendum if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request. Thus, such a request by not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right obligates the Seimas to act in a particular way—to call a referendum, provided the constitutional conditions for calling the referendum have been met (an issue that is most important for the life of the state and the nation has been submitted to the referendum, the referendum is mandatorily called in the cases provided for in the Constitution, the petition for calling the referendum has been signed by the required number of citizens with the electoral right) and the right of initiative to call the referendum has been implemented in observance of the requirements established by law. Under the Constitution, there is no and there may be no confrontation between the nation and its representation—the Seimas; the Seimas implements those powers that have been assigned to it by the nation in the Constitution adopted by the nation. The Constitution does not provide for the powers of the Seimas—the representation of the nation to review the text of a decision on a certain most significant issue concerning the life of the state and the nation, where such a decision is set out in a petition of a part of the nation, comprising not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right; the Seimas may not propose another text of the aforesaid decision (or, among other things, another text of a draft amendment to the Constitution or a draft law), or take over the consideration of such a decision, or make a decision instead of the nation. Thus, the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution, according to which no one may restrict or limit the sovereignty of the nation or make claims to the sovereign powers belonging to the entire nation, and Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution obligate the Seimas to call a referendum if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request. Where doubts arise that a decision proposed to be put to a referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, the Seimas is obliged to immediately initiate the review of the constitutionality of its resolution, adopted on the announcement of a date for the referendum, at the Constitutional Court. Namely the Constitutional Court is the only institution empowered to assess whether a decision (among other things, a draft amendment to the Constitution or a draft law) proposed to be put to a referendum is in line with the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

  1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania and the Seimas, the petitioners, doubt regarding the compliance of the legal regulation established in the Law on Referendums with the Constitution. In deciding the constitutional justice case at issue, it is important to disclose the content of the institute of the referendum, as consolidated in the Constitution, and the content of the provisions of the Constitution relating thereto.
  2. Article 2 of the Constitution, inter alia, stipulates that sovereignty belongs to the nation, and, under Article 4 of the Constitution, the nation executes its supreme sovereign power either directly or through its democratically elected representatives.

The Constitutional Court has held that the nation executes its supreme sovereign power directly through two main organisational forms: national elections and referendums. The principles and main conditions for organising national elections and referendums are consolidated in the respective constitutional norms, and the procedures for conducting national elections and referendums are governed by the respective laws. The legal ground for the aforesaid forms of democracy derives from Articles 2 and 4 of the Constitution as well as from the electoral right of citizens (Articles 33 and 34 of the Constitution) (the Constitutional Court’s decision of 11 July 1994). As the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 1 December 1994, the nation, as a rule, directly expresses its will during referendums or direct universal elections, i.e., the nation’s will with regard to a concrete issue becomes known only after a referendum or direct universal election has been held.

Thus, under the Constitution, a referendum is a form of the direct execution of the supreme sovereign power of the nation; the nation may also execute its supreme sovereign power indirectly—through its democratically elected representatives. It should be emphasised that there are not any such subjects that may be equated with the nation, which enjoys sovereignty (Article 2 of the Constitution) and executes its supreme sovereign power either directly or through its democratically elected representatives (Article 4 of the Constitution). In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, in its ruling of 1 December 1994, the Constitutional Court held that no citizens’ initiative group for a referendum may be equated with the nation or speak on behalf of the nation.

2.1. In this context, it should be noted that, under Paragraph 1 of Article 55 of the Constitution, members of the Seimas are representatives of the nation. Thus, under the Constitution, only the Seimas is the representation of the nation, through which the nation executes its supreme sovereign power. As noted by the Constitutional Court, under the Constitution, there may not be and there is no confrontation between the supreme sovereign power executed by the nation directly and the supreme sovereign power executed by the nation through its democratically elected representatives—members of the Seimas. Thus, under the Constitution, there may not be and there is no confrontation between the nation and its representation—the Seimas: the Seimas implements those powers that have been assigned to it by the nation in the Constitution adopted by the nation (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 May 2004).

Consequently, when the Constitution is construed, the direct (through a referendum) and indirect (through the representation of the nation—the Seimas) forms of the execution of the supreme sovereign power of the nation may not be opposed to each other.

2.2. In this context, it should be noted that the Constitution is supreme law. The source of the Constitution is the national community—the civil nation (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 May 2004).

The Constitution reflects the social contract—the obligation democratically accepted by all the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to the current and future generations to live according to the fundamental rules consolidated in the Constitution and to obey them in order to ensure the legitimacy of the governing power and the legitimacy of its decisions, as well as to ensure human rights and freedoms, so that concord would exist in society (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 25 May 2004 and its decision of 20 April 2010). As the act of supreme legal power and as the social contract, the Constitution is based on universal and unquestionable values—the attribution of sovereignty to the nation, democracy, the recognition of and respect for human rights and freedoms, respect for law, the rule of law, the limitation of the scope of powers, the duty of state institutions to serve the people and their responsibility to society, public spirit, justice, and the striving for an open, just, and harmonious civil society and the state under the rule of law (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 25 May 2004, 19 August 2006, and 24 September 2009, its decision of 19 December 2012, and its ruling of 24 January 2014).

In view of the foregoing, it should be emphasised that the Constitution reflects the obligation of the national community—the civil nation to create and reinforce the state by following the fundamental rules consolidated in the Constitution; the Constitution is the legal foundation for the common life of the nation as the national community. Thus, it should be emphasised that the Constitution equally binds the national community—the civil nation itself; therefore, the supreme sovereign power of the nation may be executed, inter alia, directly (by referendum), only in observance of the Constitution.

2.3. In this context, it should be noted that, under Article 3 of the Constitution, no one may restrict or limit the sovereignty of the nation or make claims to the sovereign powers belonging to the entire nation (Paragraph 1); the nation and each citizen have the right to resist anyone who encroaches on the independence, territorial integrity, and constitutional order of the State of Lithuania by force (Paragraph 2).

Since the Constitution also binds the national community—the civil nation itself, the requirement that the Constitution must be observed when the nation, inter alia, directly (by referendum), executes its supreme sovereign power may not be assessed as a restriction or limitation, referred to in Article 3 of the Constitution, on the sovereignty of the nation, or as the taking over of the sovereign powers belonging to the entire nation. It should be emphasised that the purpose of the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution is to protect the constitutional values referred to in this article (the sovereignty of the nation, the independence of the State of Lithuania, its territorial integrity and constitutional order); therefore, these provisions may not be invoked for the purpose of denying the said constitutional values. The provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution may not be construed, inter alia, in such a way that, purportedly, they imply the right of the nation to disregard the Constitution, which has been adopted by the nation itself, or the right of any citizen or any group of citizens to equate themselves with the nation and act on behalf of the nation while seeking to violate the aforementioned constitutional values.

 In this context, it should be mentioned that, under Article 28 of the Constitution, while implementing their rights and exercising their freedoms, human beings must observe the Constitution and laws and must not restrict the rights and freedoms of other people.

2.4. In the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 19 August 2006, it is noted that one of the most important obligations of a democratic state based on law and justice is to respect, defend, and protect the values upon which the Constitution itself, adopted by the nation, is based, and whose actual consolidation, defence, and protection is the raison d’être of the state itself; otherwise, it would not be possible to regard the state as the common good of the whole society.

A fundamental requirement for a democratic state under the rule of law is the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution, where it is prescribed that any law or any other act contrary to the Constitution is invalid; this principle is, from various aspects, consolidated also in other articles of the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 6 thereof, which stipulates that the Constitution is an integral and directly applicable act (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 24 December 2002, 29 October 2003, 5 March 2004, and 20 March 2007). The principle of the supremacy of the Constitution means that the Constitution occupies an exceptional—the highest—place in the hierarchy of legal acts; no legal act may be in conflict with the Constitution; no one is permitted to violate the Constitution; the constitutional order must be protected (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 24 December 2002, 29 October 2003, 5 March 2004, and 20 March 2007, its decision of 20 November 2009, and its ruling of 29 March 2012). The Constitutional Court has also held that all the provisions of the Constitution should be construed by taking into account the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 5 March 2004). In its ruling of 13 December 2004, the Constitutional Court emphasised that the Constitution is the act of supreme legal power, supreme law, and the measure of the lawfulness and legitimacy of all the other legal acts; the discretion of all law-making entities is limited by the supreme law—the Constitution; all legal acts as well as the decisions of all state and municipal institutions and officials must comply with and not contradict the Constitution.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, in its ruling of 1 December 1994, the Constitutional Court held that the norms of the Constitution are equally binding on all legal subjects, including initiative groups for referendums and citizens’ groups of any size. In its ruling of 22 July 1994, the Constitutional Court noted that the Seimas, as well as other participants of the legislation process, while drafting and adopting legal acts, must bring them into line with the Constitution; this is one of the main measures ensuring the constitutional order and one of the fundamental principles of a state under the rule of law; this rule must equally be observed by any group of citizens expressing an initiative to call a referendum; a draft law or the draft provisions of a law proposed to be put to a referendum must be brought into line with the Constitution.

As mentioned before, the Constitution also binds the national community—the civil nation itself. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that all the other legal subjects, inter alia, law-making subjects, institutions organising elections (referendums), initiative groups for referendums as well as other groups of citizens, are equally bound by the Constitution and must observe and not violate the Constitution. In addition, it should be noted that the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, inter alia, gives rise to the imperative that it is not permitted to put to a referendum any such possible decisions that would not comply with the requirements of the Constitution.

  1. Article 9 of the Constitution prescribes:

„The most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation shall be decided by referendum.

In the cases established by law, the Seimas shall call a referendum.

A referendum shall also be called if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request.

The procedure for calling and conducting referendums shall be established by law.”

3.1. In its ruling of 22 July 1994, the Constitutional Court noted that, according to the theory of law and constitutional traditions, the referendum is understood as the universal popular vote on the adoption of the Constitution, a law, or the separate provisions of a law, as well as on the issues of the domestic and foreign policy; the essence of this institute of democracy is defined by two main criteria: 1) the direct definition of the sovereign power (suprema potestas) of the nation and 2) the legal significance of the acts adopted in the process of implementing direct democracy.

3.2. It has been mentioned that, under the Constitution, a referendum is a form of the direct execution of the supreme sovereign power of the nation. Thus, decisions on the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation, once they are adopted by referendum, are mandatory. In cases where an issue of the domestic or foreign policy is decided by referendum without adopting any concrete amendments to the Constitution or any concrete provisions of laws, state institutions are obliged to implement the decision adopted by referendum by acting within the competence assigned to them under the Constitution and laws.

It should be noted that the provision of Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution does not preclude the possibility of holding an advisory referendum where namely such a referendum is initiated.

3.3. According to Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation are decided by referendum. Thus, under the Constitution, inter alia, issues that are important for the life of only some municipalities or some territorial or other communities of citizens may not be decided by referendum.

3.3.1. The most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation are, first of all, the issues of altering the provisions of the Constitution, which, under the Constitution, may be decided only by referendum:

– under Paragraph 1 of Article 148 of the Constitution, the provision “[t]he State of Lithuania shall be an independent democratic republic” of Article 1 of the Constitution may be altered only by referendum if not less than 3/4 of the citizens of Lithuania with the electoral right vote in favour thereof; it should be noted that only the same procedure may be applied to altering the provision “[t]he State of Lithuania shall be an independent democratic republic” of Article 1 of the Constitutional Law “On the State of Lithuania”, which is a constituent part of the Constitution (Article 2 of the Constitutional Law “On the State of Lithuania”);

– the same procedure, as provided for in Article 2 of the Constitutional Law “On the State of Lithuania”, may be applied to altering the provisions of the Constitutional Act “On the Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania to Post-Soviet Eastern Unions”, which is a constituent part of the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 24 January 2014), i.e., these provisions may be altered only in the case where “not less than three-fourths of the citizens of Lithuania with the active electoral right vote in favour” of them; as the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 24 January 2014, under the Constitution, the provisions of the Constitutional Act “On the Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania to Post-Soviet Eastern Unions” should have the same protection as the provision “[t]he State of Lithuania shall be an independent democratic republic”, which is consolidated in Article 1 of the Constitution and Article 1 of the Constitutional Law “On the State of Lithuania”;

– under Paragraph 2 of Article 148 of the Constitution, the provisions of the First Chapter “The State of Lithuania” and those of the Fourteenth Chapter “Alteration of the Constitution” may be altered only by referendum;

– the provisions of Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitutional Act “On Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union”, which is a constituent part of the Constitution, may be altered only by referendum. As the Constitutional Court noted in its ruling of 24 January 2014, the Constitutional Act “On Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union”, inter alia, lays down the constitutional grounds for membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union. If these constitutional grounds were not consolidated in the Constitution, the Republic of Lithuania would not be able to be a full member of the European Union: “The Republic of Lithuania as a Member State of the European Union shall share with or confer on the European Union the competences of its State institutions in the areas provided for in the founding Treaties of the European Union and to the extent it would, together with the other Member States of the European Union, jointly meet its membership commitments in those areas as well as enjoy the membership rights” (Article 1); “The norms of European Union law shall be a constituent part of the legal system of the Republic of Lithuania. Where it concerns the founding Treaties of the European Union, the norms of European Union law shall be applied directly, while in the event of collision of legal norms, they shall have supremacy over the laws and other legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania” (Article 2); these constitutional grounds for membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union were consolidated in the Constitution so as to execute the will of the nation that the Republic of Lithuania would be a member of the European Union; the aforesaid grounds themselves and the expression of the sovereign will of the nation, as the source of these grounds, determine the requirement that the provisions of Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitutional Act “On Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union” may be altered or annulled only by referendum.

3.3.2. Under Paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution, in the cases established by law, the Seimas may call a referendum. Thus, in addition to those established in the Constitution, the law may provide for other most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation that must be decided by referendum. It should be noted that, when establishing the list of such most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation, the legislature is bound by the imperative, stemming from Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, that, under the Constitution, not all issues, but only the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation, must be decided by referendum, and that issues generally not concerning the life of the state and the nation may not be decided by referendum.

3.3.3. It should be noted that, in addition to those established in the Constitution or the law, there may be other most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation that must be decided by referendum.

Under Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution, a referendum is also called if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request. The number of 300,000 citizens with the electoral right, who request that a particular issue be decided by referendum, shows that such an issue should be considered to be one of the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation. Thus, under the Constitution, the significance of a particular issue may also be determined by the fact that, as provided for by law, not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right request that it be decided by referendum: the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation, which must be decided by referendum, should also include such an issue that would be requested to be decided by referendum by not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right, although neither the Constitution nor any other law would indicate that this issue must be decided by referendum.

Under Article 4 of the Constitution, the nation executes its supreme sovereign power, inter alia, through its democratically elected representatives; Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution stipulates that the Seimas adopts resolutions on referendums. It has been mentioned that, under the Constitution, only the Seimas is the representation of the nation, through which the nation executes its supreme sovereign power.

When construing the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution, it should be noted that, under the Constitution, the significance of a certain issue may also be determined by the fact that it is being put to a referendum by the Seimas, as the representation of the nation: the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation, which must be decided by referendum, should also include such an issue that would be put to a referendum by the Seimas, as the representation of the nation, although neither the Constitution nor any other law would indicate that this issue must be decided by referendum. It should be noted that, when a referendum is called by the Seimas on its own initiative, regard must be paid to the aforementioned imperative, stemming from Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, that, under the Constitution, issues generally not concerning the life of the state and the nation may not be decided by referendum.

3.4. It should be noted that, under Paragraph 4 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the provisions of laws of the Republic of Lithuania may also be adopted by referendum.

Thus, the Seimas may, on its own initiative or at the request of not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right, call a referendum on the adoption of the provisions of a law (laws) that regulate a certain most significant issue concerning the life of the state and the nation.

In this context, it should be noted that, under the Constitution, certain laws may not be adopted by referendum, as, for instance:

– under Item 14 of Article 67 of the Constitution, the Seimas approves the state budget and supervises its execution; Article 130 of the Constitution provides that the Government draws up a draft state budget and submits it to the Seimas not later than 75 days before the end of the budget year; under Paragraph 1 of Article 131 of the Constitution, the draft state budget is considered by the Seimas and is approved by law before the start of the new budget year; as held in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 February 2013, the budgetary function of the Seimas is its classical function, and it is one of the most important functions of the parliament of a democratic state under the rule of law;

– under Item 15 of Article 67 of the Constitution, the Seimas establishes state taxes and other compulsory payments; the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that the Constitution consolidates the prerogative of the Seimas to establish taxes (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 9 October 1998 and 15 March 2000, its decision of 20 September 2005, and its ruling of 16 December 2013), as well as that state taxes and other compulsory payments may be established only by the Seimas (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 26 April 2001, 3 June 2002, and 17 November 2003);

– under Paragraph 3 of Article 69 of the Constitution, the Seimas establishes the list of constitutional laws by a 3/5 majority vote of the members of the Seimas; as held in the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 1 December 1994, under the Constitution, the list of constitutional laws may be established only by the Seimas.

3.5. In its ruling of 22 July 1994, the Constitutional Court pointed out that the direct participation of citizens in the governance of their state is a very important expression of their supreme sovereign power; therefore, a referendum must be a testimony to the actual will of the nation. In view of this fact, it should be noted that, where the most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation are put to a referendum, they must be such issues regarding which it would be possible to determine the actual will of the nation: inter alia, they must be formulated in a clear and not misleading manner. Thus, Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, when it is construed in conjunction with the provision of Article 2 of the Constitution that sovereignty belongs to the nation and with the provision of Article 4 of the Constitution that the nation executes its supreme sovereign power directly, gives rise to the imperative that preconditions must be created for determining the actual will of the nation in a referendum.

Consequently, under the Constitution, several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be put to a vote in a referendum as a single issue. Acting otherwise would deny the possibility of determining the actual will of the nation separately regarding each most significant issue concerning the life of the state and the nation.

In this context, it should also be noted that, in the cases where a referendum on certain most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation is initiated pursuant to Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution, under which a referendum is called if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request, the approval of citizens for calling a referendum must be expressed separately regarding each issue being put to the referendum, i.e., a single signature may not be given in support of an initiative to call a referendum on several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws. Otherwise, no opportunity would be ensured for citizens to separately decide regarding their support for each initiative to call a referendum, and it would be impossible to determine whether each of the aforementioned issues, which are unrelated by their content and nature, is indeed requested to be put to a referendum by the subject indicated in Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution—not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right.

Thus, the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 9 thereof, gives (give) rise to the duty of the legislature to establish by law the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be put to a referendum as a single issue.

  1. Under Paragraph 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution, the procedure for calling and conducting referendums is established by law. Thus, by paying heed to the Constitution, the legislature must establish by law a regulation governing issues related to calling and conducting referendums, inter alia, the rights and duties of the participants of the relations connected to the organisation of referendums.

It should be noted that, as held by the Constitutional Court in its ruling of 1 December 1994, relations arising in connection to the organisation of referendums are continuous legal relations; the statement that the announcement of an initiative to organise a referendum already implies the beginning of the referendum is not justified; the formation of an initiative group, the collection of the signatures of citizens for organising a referendum, the submission of documents and their verification and consideration are only certain obligatory actions during the stage of organising a referendum.

4.1. Under Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution, one of the subjects who may exercise the initiative to call a referendum is not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right; thus, under Paragraph 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution, the formation of this subject and the announcement of an initiative to call a referendum, inter alia, requirements for the content and form of an issue proposed to be decided by referendum, requirements for the formation and registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, as well as requirements for the collection of signatures in support of calling a referendum and their submission to the institution organising referendums, must be regulated by law.

It should be noted that, under the Constitution, another subject who may exercise the initiative to call a referendum is the Seimas: as mentioned before, under Paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution, in the cases established by law, the Seimas may call a referendum; Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution stipulates that the Seimas adopts resolutions on referendums.

4.2. The law, inter alia, must establish the powers of the institution organising referendums, including the powers to ensure that the Constitution and laws are observed in the course of organising referendums, the powers to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, to review the compliance of an issue proposed to be decided by referendum with the requirements established in relation to its content and form, to verify the number of the citizens’ signatures obtained in favour of calling a referendum, to submit the relevant conclusions to the institution calling referendums—the Seimas, to organise the conduct of referendums, as well as to determine and announce referendum results.

In this context, it should be noted that, in its decision of 11 July 1994, while construing the provision of Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution, according to which the Seimas “shall form the Central Electoral Commission and alter its composition”, and, having held in this context that the nation executes its supreme sovereign power through two main organisational forms—national elections and referendums, the Constitutional Court noted that, in Lithuania, it is necessary to form one universal institution organising elections—the Central Electoral Commission; it was also held that the constitutional provision on the Central Electoral Commission must be implemented through the consolidation of the purpose of this commission based on the relevant constitutional provisions, as well as the consolidation of the principles of its formation and its competence, exclusively by law.

In view of the fact that a referendum, as well as an election, is a form of the direct execution of the supreme sovereign power of the nation, where citizens declare their will through national voting, also that the right to initiate a referendum and to vote in a referendum is granted only to citizens who have the electoral right, as well as that referendums are conducted according to the principles of electoral law, it should be held that, under the Constitution, referendums must be organised by the institution expressis verbis specified in the Constitution—the Central Electoral Commission. Thus, the constitutional status of the Central Electoral Commission implies its certain powers, inter alia, the powers to oversee and take measures that subjects participating in the organisation and conduct of a referendum observe the Constitution and the requirements stemming from laws.

4.3. Under the Constitution, the institution calling referendums is the Seimas: under Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution, only the Seimas “shall adopt resolutions on referendums”.

As mentioned before, under Paragraph 4 of Article 9 of the Constitution, the procedure for calling referendums must be established by law. It should be noted that the formulation of Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution implies not only the powers of the Seimas to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum but also its powers to adopt a resolution on refusing to call a referendum on the grounds provided for by law. It should be emphasised that the grounds, stemming from the Constitution, for adopting a resolution on refusing to call a referendum must be established by law.

4.4. It has been mentioned that the Constitution is supreme law; the supreme sovereign power of the nation may be executed, inter alia, directly (by referendum), only in observance of the Constitution; all legal subjects, inter alia, law-making subjects, institutions organising elections (referendums), initiative groups for referendums, as well as other groups of citizens, are bound by the Constitution and must observe and not violate the Constitution.

Thus, it is necessary to establish by law such a legal regulation governing the relations connected to the organisation of referendums under which preconditions would be created for ensuring that all participants of these relations observe and not violate the Constitution and that the actual will of the nation is expressed where a referendum is conducted. In this context, it should be noted that the principle of responsible governance, as consolidated in the Constitution, implies that all state institutions and officials are obliged to follow the Constitution and law while performing their functions and must properly implement the powers granted to them by the Constitution and laws by acting in the interests of the nation and the State of Lithuania (the Constitutional Court’s conclusions of 26 October 2012 and 10 November 2012 and its ruling of 27 May 2014).

4.4.1. In view of the foregoing, in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, under the Constitution, the legislature must by law, inter alia, establish:

– the requirements for the content and form of an issue submitted to a referendum, inter alia: the requirement, stemming from the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, that a decision proposed to be put to a referendum must comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution; the requirements, stemming from the constitutional imperative under which preconditions must be created for determining the actual will of the nation in a referendum, that only such issues must be submitted to a referendum regarding which it would be possible to determine the actual will of the nation (issues must be formulated in a clear and not misleading manner, they may not include several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws);

– the requirement, stemming from the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution, that a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum must bring the decision proposed to be put to the referendum into line with the Constitution;

– the powers of the institution organising referendums—the Central Electoral Commission, which stem from the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and responsible governance, to ensure that the Constitution and laws are observed in the course of organising referendums, inter alia: to verify whether an issue proposed to be decided by referendum complies with the requirements established in relation to the content and form of such issues, to refuse to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum that fails to fulfil the duty to bring the decision proposed to be decided by referendum into line with the Constitution, or that proposes deciding by referendum an issue that does not meet other requirements established in relation to the content and form of such issues (inter alia, where an issue proposed to be decided by referendum is formulated in an unclear and misleading manner, or where several issues unrelated by their content and nature are submitted as a single issue);

– the grounds, stemming from the Constitution, for the Seimas—the institution calling referendums—not to call a referendum. In this context, it should be noted that the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the Seimas not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, where the issue submitted to the referendum would be such regarding which it would be impossible to determine the actual will of the nation (the issue would be unclear and misleading, or would include several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws), or where the provisions of the law proposed to be put to the referendum would be in conflict with the Constitution, or where the proposed amendment to the Constitution would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

4.4.2. In this context, it should also be mentioned that, in its ruling of 22 July 1994, the Constitutional Court noted that the Constitution does not provide that the implementation of Article 9 of the Constitution, under which a referendum is called by the Seimas in the cases provided for by law as well as where a referendum is requested by not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right, may be bound by any additional conditions or decisions of any subjects; Paragraph 1 of Article 3 of the Constitution stipulates that no one may restrict or limit the sovereignty of the nation or make claims to the sovereign powers belonging to the entire nation; the adoption of any preliminary decisions that are not provided for by the Constitution but determine the calling of a referendum would amount to the limitation of the supreme sovereign power of the nation. It should be noted that these Constitutional Court’s statements were formulated in the aforementioned ruling while deciding on the constitutionality of the provisions “provisions of laws on economic issues may be adopted by referendum only after the economic examination of possible consequences” and “[i]n cases when, according to the Seimas, the draft of the provisions of a law submitted for referendum does not conform to the Constitution, the question of amending the Constitution must be primarily considered” of the Law on Referendums of 3 November 1989, which was no longer valid at the time. Thus, in its ruling of 22 July 1994, the Constitutional Court did not consider the question whether the Constitution gives rise to any ground for the Seimas not to call a referendum where it is requested by not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right.

4.4.2.1. It should be noted that the uniformity and continuity of the official constitutional doctrine imply the necessity to construe each provision of a ruling or another final act of the Constitutional Court in the light of the entire official constitutional doctrinal context, as well as in the light of other provisions (either explicit or implicit) of the Constitution that are related to the provision (provisions) of the Constitution in the course of the construction of which a particular provision of the official constitutional doctrine was formulated in a certain ruling or another final act of the Constitutional Court; no official constitutional doctrinal provision of a ruling or another final act of the Constitutional Court may be construed in isolation, by ignoring its meaning and systemic links with the other official constitutional doctrinal provisions set forth in the same ruling, another final act of the Constitutional Court, or in other acts of the Constitutional Court, as well as with other provisions (either explicit or implicit) of the Constitution (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s decisions of 6 December 2007, 28 October 2009, 13 March 2013, and 3 July 2013).

The formation of the official constitutional doctrine (both as a whole and on each individual issue of the constitutional legal regulation) is not a one-off act but a gradual and coherent process. This process is uninterrupted and is never fully completed. The official constitutional doctrine on any issue of the constitutional legal regulation is not formulated all “at once” but “case by case”, by supplementing some of its elements (fragments), which were disclosed in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases, with others, which are disclosed in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in new cases of constitutional justice. While construing the norms and principles of the Constitution, both explicitly and implicitly consolidated in the text of the Constitution, there is always—where this is required by the logic of the constitutional justice case under consideration—the possibility of formulating the official constitutional doctrinal provisions (i.e., to disclose such aspects of the constitutional legal regulation) that have not been formulated in the acts of the Constitutional Court adopted in the previous constitutional justice cases. Whenever the Constitutional Court considers new constitutional justice cases subsequent to the petitions of petitioners, the official constitutional doctrine formulated in the previous acts of the Constitutional Court (on each individual issue of the constitutional legal regulation that is important to a particular case) is every time supplemented with new fragments. Thus, as new official constitutional doctrinal provisions are formulated, the diversity as well as completeness of the legal regulation consolidated in the Constitution—the supreme legal act—is disclosed (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 28 March 2006 and 9 May 2006, its decision of 21 November 2006, and its ruling of 22 October 2007).

Thus, the aforementioned statements from the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 22 July 1994 may not be construed without taking account of other (both explicit and implicit) provisions of the Constitution that are related to the provisions of the Constitution during the construction of which the said statements were formulated, as well as of the entire official constitutional doctrinal context and the development of the official constitutional doctrine following the adoption of the ruling of 22 July 1994.

4.4.2.2. In this context, it should be noted that, as mentioned before, the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution is a fundamental requirement for a state under the rule of law; this principle means that the Constitution occupies an exceptional—the highest—place in the hierarchy of legal acts; no legal act may be in conflict with the Constitution; no one is permitted to violate the Constitution; the constitutional order must be defended. It has been mentioned that all provisions of the Constitution should be construed in view of the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution; all legal acts and the decisions of all state and municipal institutions and officials must comply with and not contradict the Constitution; the discretion of all law-making entities is limited by the supreme law—the Constitution.

It has also been mentioned that, since the Constitution also binds the national community—the civil nation itself, the requirement that the Constitution must be observed when the nation, inter alia, directly (by referendum), executes its supreme sovereign power may not, under Article 3 of the Constitution, be assessed as a restriction or limitation on the sovereignty of the nation or as the taking over of the sovereign powers belonging to the entire nation; the purpose of the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution is to protect the constitutional values referred to in this article (the sovereignty of the nation, the independence of the State of Lithuania, its territorial integrity and constitutional order); therefore, these provisions may not be invoked for the purpose of denying the said constitutional values; the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution may not be construed, inter alia, in such a way that, purportedly, they imply the right of the nation to disregard the Constitution, which has been adopted by the nation itself, or the right of any citizen or any group of citizens to equate themselves with the nation and act on behalf of the nation while seeking to violate the aforementioned constitutional values.

4.4.2.3. Consequently, the requirement that the Constitution be observed may not be regarded as an additional condition, not provided for in the Constitution, for calling a referendum, which would be binding in the event of implementing Article 9 of the Constitution. It should be emphasised that the said requirement stems from the Constitution itself, inter alia, the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, as consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law. If the Constitution were construed in a different way, i.e., that, purportedly, the Seimas is obliged to call a referendum even where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum does not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution, preconditions would be created for the denial of constitutional principles and the Constitution itself, as the supreme law and the legal foundation for the common life of the nation.

As mentioned before, the Constitution equally binds the national community—the civil nation itself; when the Constitution is construed, the direct (through a referendum) and indirect (through the representation of the nation—the Seimas) forms of the execution of the supreme sovereign power of the nation may not be opposed to each other. Thus, it should also be emphasised that the duty of the Seimas, stemming from the Constitution, not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution may not be regarded as the power of the Seimas to adopt a preliminary decision that is not provided for in the Constitution but determines the calling of a referendum, i.e., which limits the supreme sovereign power of the nation. The provision “[s]overeignty shall belong to the Nation” of Article 2 of the Constitution, the provision “[t]he Nation shall execute its supreme sovereign power <...> directly” of Article 4, as well as the provision “[t]he most significant issues concerning the life of the State and the Nation shall be decided by referendum” of Article 9 of the Constitution, may not be construed only literally: these provisions do not mean that the nation may, by referendum, establish, inter alia, in the Constitution, any legal regulation it requests, including a legal regulation not complying with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

  1. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, consideration should be given to the requirements stemming from the Constitution in relation to amendments to the Constitution.

5.1. In its ruling of 24 January 2014, the Constitutional Court noted that, when introducing amendments to the Constitution, it is necessary to heed the imperative that the Constitution is an integral act (Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution); also that no amendments to the Constitution may oppose any provisions of the Constitution, or values consolidated in those provisions, against one another, inter alia, the legal regulation established in the chapters and articles of the Constitution may not be opposed against the constitutional legal regulation established in the constituent parts of the Constitution; no amendment to the Constitution may create any such a new constitutional legal regulation under which one provision of the Constitution would deny or contradict another provision of the Constitution, so that it would be impossible to construe such provisions as being in harmony; an imperative stems from Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution to the effect that no amendments to the Constitution may violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution or the harmony of the values consolidated by them.

In its ruling of 24 January 2014, the Constitutional Court also held that the concept, nature, and purpose of the Constitution, the stability of the Constitution as a constitutional value, and the imperative of the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution imply, inter alia, substantive limitations on the alteration of the Constitution; substantive limitations on the alteration of the Constitution are the limitations consolidated in the Constitution in relation to the adoption of constitutional amendments of certain content; these limitations stem from the overall constitutional legal regulation; and they are designed to defend the universal values upon which the Constitution, as supreme law and as the social contract, and the state, as the common good of the entire society, are based, as well as to protect the harmony of these values and the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution.

5.2. In the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 24 January 2014, the following substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution were defined:

– it is not permitted to make any such amendments to the Constitution that would deny at least one of the constitutional values lying at the foundations of the State of Lithuania, as the common good of the entire society consolidated in the Constitution—the independence of the state, democracy, the republic, and the innate character of human rights and freedoms, with the exception of the cases where Article 1 of the Constitution would be altered in the manner prescribed by Paragraph 1 of Article 148 of the Constitution, or Article 1 of the Constitutional Law “On the State of Lithuania”, which is a constituent part of the Constitution, would be altered in the manner prescribed by Article 2 of the latter law;

– it is not permitted to make any such amendments to the Constitution that would deny the provisions of the Constitutional Act “On the Non-Alignment of the Republic of Lithuania to Post-Soviet Eastern Unions”, with the exception of the cases where certain provisions of this constitutional act would be altered in the same manner as provided for in Article 2 of the Constitutional Law “On the State of Lithuania”;

– as long as the constitutional grounds for membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union, which are consolidated in Articles 1 and 2 of the Constitutional Act “On Membership of the Republic of Lithuania in the European Union”, have not been annulled by referendum, it is not permitted to make any such amendments to the Constitution that would deny the commitments of the Republic of Lithuania arising from its membership in the European Union;

– it is not permitted to make any such amendments to the Constitution that would deny the international obligations of the Republic of Lithuania (inter alia, the obligations of the Republic of Lithuania arising from its membership in NATO, which are preconditioned by the geopolitical orientation of the Republic of Lithuania) and at the same time—the constitutional principle of pacta sunt servanda, as long as the said international obligations have not been renounced in accordance with the norms of international law;

– the Seimas is not permitted to make any such amendments to the Constitution that would deny the provisions of Chapter I “The State of Lithuania” and Chapter XIV “Alteration of the Constitution” of the Constitution; it is also not permitted to introduce by referendum any such amendments to the Constitution that would, without correspondingly amending the provisions of Chapter I “The State of Lithuania” and Chapter XIV “Alteration of the Constitution” of the Constitution, lay down the constitutional legal regulation contradicting the provisions of Chapters I and XIV of the Constitution.

5.3. It should be emphasised that the innate nature of human rights and freedoms, democracy, and the independence of the state are such constitutional values that constitute the foundation for the Constitution, as the social contract, as well as the foundation for the nation’s common life, which is based on the Constitution, and for the State of Lithuania itself. No one may deny the provisions of the Constitution consolidating these fundamental constitutional values, since doing so would amount to the denial of the essence of the Constitution itself. Therefore, even where regard is paid to the aforementioned limitations on the alteration of the Constitution, which stem from the Constitution itself, it is not permitted to adopt any such amendments to the Constitution that would destroy the innate nature of human rights and freedoms, democracy, or the independence of the state; if the Constitution were construed in a different way, it would be understood as creating preconditions for putting an end to the restored “independent State of Lithuania, founded on democratic principles”, as proclaimed by the Act of Independence of Lithuania of 16 February 1918.

5.4. It should be noted that the aforementioned substantive limitations imposed on the alteration of the Constitution are equally applicable in the event of the alteration of the Constitution by referendum. It has been mentioned that the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, inter alia, gives rise to the imperative according to which it is not permitted to put to a referendum any such possible decisions that would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution. Thus, based on the Constitution, it is also not permitted to put to a referendum any such draft amendment to the Constitution that would disregard substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution. Otherwise, preconditions would be created for denying the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution and for disregarding the imperative, stemming from Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution, that no amendments to the Constitution may violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and the harmony of the values consolidated in these provisions.

5.4.1. It has been mentioned that, under the Constitution, the law, inter alia, must establish the requirement, stemming from the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution, that a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum must bring the decision proposed to be put to the referendum into line with the Constitution. This requirement, inter alia, gives rise to the duty of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum to submit to the referendum only such draft amendments to the Constitution that would observe substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution.

5.4.2. It has been mentioned that, under the Constitution, the law, inter alia, must establish the powers of the institution organising referendums—the Central Electoral Commission, which derive from the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and responsible governance, to review whether an issue proposed to be decided by referendum complies with the requirements set in relation to the content and form of such an issue and to refuse to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum where such a group fails to fulfil the duty to bring the decision proposed to be put to the referendum into line with the Constitution. These powers, inter alia, imply the duty of the Central Electoral Commission not to register such a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum that proposes putting to the referendum such a draft amendment to the Constitution that disregards substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution.

5.4.3. It has been mentioned that the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the Seimas not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum does not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution. Thus, under the Constitution, the law must lay down a ground for the institution calling referendums—the Seimas not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution. This ground, inter alia, also includes the cases where a draft amendment submitted to a referendum disregards substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution.

  1. As mentioned before, Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution stipulates that the Seimas adopts resolutions on referendums. It has been mentioned that the formulation of Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution implies not only the powers of the Seimas to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum but also its powers to adopt a resolution on refusing to call a referendum on the grounds provided for by law; the grounds provided by law for adopting a resolution on refusing to call a referendum must stem from the Constitution.

In this context, it should be noted that, under Item 3 of Article 67 of the Constitution, the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution both in the case where it decides to call a referendum and in the case where it decides not to call a referendum. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 102 and Paragraph 1 of Article 105 of the Constitution, a resolution of the Seimas to call a referendum or not to call a referendum may be an object of constitutional review. Under Paragraph 1 of Article 106 of the Constitution, the Government, not less than 1/5 of all the members of the Seimas, and the courts, have the right to apply to the Constitutional Court concerning the aforesaid acts (resolutions to call or not to call a referendum) of the Seimas; while systemically construing Paragraphs 1 and 4 of Article 106 of the Constitution, it should be noted that the right to apply to the Constitutional Court and request an investigation into the compliance of a resolution of the Seimas with the Constitution is also granted to the Seimas in corpore.

  1. In this context, it should also be noted that, while construing Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution in the context of the constitutional legal regulation, the Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that, under the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the exclusive competence to investigate and decide, inter alia, whether any act (part thereof) adopted by referendum is not in conflict with any act of higher power, inter alia, (and first of all) with the Constitution (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 28 March 2006, 6 June 2006, 24 October 2007, and 13 May 2010).

II

  1. While considering the constitutional justice case at issue, consideration should also be given to the relevant provisions of the documents of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), which acts as the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters and provides legal advice to the Council of Europe’s member states wishing to bring their legal and institutional structures into line with European standards and international experience in the fields of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
  2. At its 47th Plenary Session on 6–7 July 2001, the Venice Commission adopted the Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level. These guidelines set out minimum rules for constitutional referendums, i.e., referendums on a partial or total revision of the Constitution, and they are designed to ensure that this instrument is used in all countries in accordance with the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

2.1. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, the following provisions of Section II of the Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level should be mentioned:

inter alia, procedural and substantive requirements for a text submitted to a referendum must be regulated at the constitutional level;

– the constitutional principles of electoral law (universal, equal, free, direct, and secret suffrage) apply to referendums;

– texts submitted to a referendum must comply with, among other things, procedural requirements: the same question must not combine a specifically-worded draft amendment with a generally-worded proposal or a question of principle (unity of form); except in the cases of total revision of the Constitution, there must be an intrinsic (substantive) connection between the various parts of the text, in order to guarantee the free suffrage of the voter, who must not be called to accept or refuse as a whole provisions without an intrinsic link (unity of content); it is desirable that the same question does not simultaneously apply to the Constitution and  legislation of lower legal force (unity of hierarchical level);

– a text submitted to a constitutional referendum must also comply with substantive requirements: it must abide by the substantive limits (intrinsic and extrinsic) of constitutional reform, and it must not be contrary to international law or the Council of Europe’s statutory principles (democracy, human rights, and the rule of law);

– texts that contradict any procedural and/or substantive requirements should not be put to the popular vote in a referendum;

– the question submitted to voters must be clear (not obscure or ambiguous); it must not be misleading; it must not suggest an answer; voters must be informed of the consequences of the referendum;

– in order to avoid having to declare a vote totally invalid, an authority must have the power, before the vote, to correct faulty drafting, inter alia, where the text submitted to the referendum does not comply with procedural or substantive requirements; in this event, partial invalidity may be declared if the remaining text is coherent;

– when a draft constitutional revision is proposed by a section of the electorate or an authority other than Parliament, Parliament must state its opinion on the text submitted to the vote; it may be entitled to put forward a counter-proposal to the proposed text;

– the observance of the rules governing constitutional referendums will be subject to judicial review. This is exercised, in the final instance, by the Constitutional Court (if it exists) or by the Supreme Court.

2.2. Thus, according to the rules set out in the Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level, a draft new Constitution or draft amendment to the Constitution, which is submitted to a referendum on adopting a new Constitution or altering the existing Constitution, must comply with the procedural and substantive requirements set in relation to texts submitted to a referendum. The compliance with substantive requirements means compliance with, inter alia, essential constitutional principles (democracy, protection of human rights, and the rule of law) as well as with the universally recognised principles and norms of international law. Procedural requirements, inter alia, include the unity of the content of the text—amendments to the Constitution put to the single vote must be related to one another, i.e., the text of some proposed amendments to the provisions of the Constitution must not be put to the single vote if it combines amendments that are, in substance, of a different content. It should be noted that the non-compliance of the text with procedural and substantive requirements may constitute a ground for refusing to put it to the vote. There must be a certain responsible institution that would be empowered, before the vote, to assess the compliance of the text submitted to the referendum with, among other things, procedural and substantive requirements; the judicial review of the observance of the rules governing constitutional referendums must be conducted, in accordance with the respective competence, by either the Constitutional Court or any other court adopting final decisions, which are not subject to appeal.

  1. At its 70th Plenary Session on 16–17 March 2007, the Venice Commission adopted the Code of Good Practice on Referendums, comprising the Guidelines on the Holding of Referendums and the Explanatory Memorandum.

3.1. According to the rules on the holding of referendums, as consolidated in the Guidelines on the Holding of Referendums, texts submitted to a referendum must comply with procedural requirements (the unity of form, content, and hierarchical level) and substantive requirements (the principle of the hierarchy of norms, the requirement that these texts must not be contrary to international law or to the Council of Europe’s statutory principles). It should be noted that the procedural and substantive requirements as consolidated in the Guidelines on the Holding of Referendums in relation to texts submitted to a referendum are, in substance, analogous to those set out in the Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level.

3.2. The aforementioned procedural and substantive requirements in relation to texts submitted to a referendum are specified in greater detail in the Explanatory Memorandum. The following provisions of this memorandum should be mentioned:

– a stringent requirement of free suffrage is respect for the unity of the content of the text; voters must not be called to vote simultaneously on several questions that do not have any intrinsic link, given that they may be in favour of one and against another; where the revision of the text covers several separate aspects, a number of separate questions must be put to the people;

– under the principle of the rule of law, the people are not exempt from compliance with the law; this applies to both procedural aspects and the substance of texts put to the vote, which must comply with all superior law; legislative referendums must therefore comply with the Constitution;

– irrespective of how national law defines the relationship between international and domestic law, texts put to a referendum must not be contrary to international law or to the Council of Europe’s statutory principles (democracy, human rights and, the rule of law);

– in order to prevent unlawful referendums, texts that are either procedurally or substantively invalid must not be put to a referendum.

3.3. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, consideration should be given to the following provisions of Chapter II of the Guidelines on the Holding of Referendums, which are related to the procedural, inter alia, guarantees for the implementation of referendum principles:

– there must be an effective system of appeal against decisions related to referendums; the appeal body in referendum matters should be either an electoral commission or a court. In any case, final appeal to a court must be possible;

– the appeal body must be competent to deal with, inter alia, procedural and, where applicable, substantive requirements for the validity of texts submitted to a referendum: the review of the validity of texts should take place before the vote.

3.4. Thus, the procedural and substantive requirements as consolidated in the Guidelines on the Holding of Referendums and the Explanatory Memorandum in relation to texts submitted to a referendum are, in substance, analogous to those set out in the Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level; in addition, under the Guidelines on the Holding of Referendums, it is necessary to establish such rules on the holding of referendums that, among other things, would create preconditions for the appeal body—an electoral commission or a court—to consider, as early as before the vote, inter alia, the question of whether the text submitted to the referendum complies with procedural and/or substantive requirements; appeal to a court against an ensuing decision of the authorised institution must be possible.

III

On the compliance of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it does not provide for certain powers of the Central Electoral Commission, with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law

  1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, requests an investigation into whether the Law on Referendums, insofar as it provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess the compliance of a draft law (amending the Constitution), proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be adopted by referendum, with the Constitution, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, decisions precluding initiatives to adopt by referendum such provisions of a draft law (amending the Constitution) that would violate the Constitution itself, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

It should be noted that the petition of the petitioner makes it clear that the petitioner impugns the compliance of the Law on Referendums with the Constitution only insofar as this law, according to the petitioner, provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission, as indicated by the petitioner, to assess the compliance of a draft law amending the Constitution with the Constitution namely in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

Thus, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, the Constitutional Court will investigate whether the Law on Referendums, insofar as it, according to the petitioner, provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess the compliance of a draft law amending the Constitution with the Constitution in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be adopted by referendum, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, doubts the compliance of the Law on Referendums with the Constitution, in substance, due to the fact that, although, according to the petitioner, in the cases where a draft law amending the Constitution is proposed to be adopted by referendum, the Constitution gives rise to the necessity to give the Central Electoral Commission the powers to assess whether such a draft law complies with the Constitution and the powers to adopt a decision precluding the initiation of a referendum on such provisions of a draft law amending the Constitution that would violate the Constitution itself, as well as although the said powers of the Central Electoral Commission may be established only in the Law on Referendums (in particular, in Article 10 thereof, which regulates the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum), these powers are not consolidated in this legal act in a clear and concrete manner.

Thus, the petitioner does not impugn the legal regulation consolidated in the Law on Referendums, but rather it impugns something that is not established in this law, which, however, in the opinion of the petitioner, should have been established therein, i.e., the petitioner raises the question of legislative omission.

  1. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that a legal gap, inter alia, legislative omission, always means that the legal regulation of certain social relations is established neither explicitly nor implicitly, neither in a particular legal act (part thereof) nor in any other legal act at all, even though there exists a need for a legal regulation of these social relations, as well as that, in the case of legislative omission, the said legal regulation must, by paying heed to the imperatives of the consistency and inner non-discrepancy of the legal system and by taking into account the content of the social relations, be established precisely in the said particular legal act (in particular part thereof), because this is required by a certain legal act of higher power, inter alia, the Constitution itself (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s decision of 8 August 2006).
  2. While deciding whether the Law on Referendums, to the extent specified by the petitioner, is not in conflict with the Constitution, it is necessary to disclose in what way the powers of the Central Electoral Commission in organising and conducting referendums are regulated by law from the aspect relevant to the constitutional justice case at issue.
  3. The procedure governing the implementation of the right of the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to referendums, the types of referendums, and the procedure for initiating, calling, organising, and conducting referendums are established in the Law on Referendums, which was adopted by the Seimas on 4 June 2002 (Paragraph 1 of Article 1) and came into force on 1 January 2003.

5.1. Article 10 “The Registration of an Initiative Group of Citizens” of the Law on Referendums, which, as maintained by the petitioner, should, first of all, provide that the Central Electoral Commission is granted the powers indicated by the petitioner, prescribes:

“1. Citizens shall implement the citizens’ right to call a referendum directly. With a view to this, a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum (hereinafter referred to as “group”) of at least fifteen citizens with the electoral right shall be formed. A representative of the group shall visit the Central Electoral Commission and submit an application to register the group and the text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum and shall coordinate on a preliminary basis the question of a date for a sitting of the Central Electoral Commission.

  1. The group’s application to the Central Electoral Commission must indicate: the referendum type, a preliminary or the final text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum, as well as the coordinator (coordinators) of the group. The application shall be signed by all the members of the group, and the fact of the expressed initiative to call a referendum shall be confirmed at the sitting of the Central Electoral Commission at which the question of the group’s registration is decided.
  2. Not later than within 15 days of the day of the receipt of the group’s application, the Central Electoral Commission shall draw up the act on the group’s registration at its sitting. Not later than on the day following the day of the group’s registration, a copy of the act on its registration shall be issued to the group or its representative and another copy shall be forwarded to the Speaker of the Seimas. At the next sitting of the Seimas, the Speaker of the Seimas shall inform the Seimas of the citizens’ initiative to call a referendum.
  3. If, in the group’s application, it is stated that the text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum is preliminary, at the request of the group’s representatives, the Office of the Seimas must provide the necessary assistance in drawing up the final text of the decision as soon as possible but not later than the day of the sitting of the Central Electoral Commission at which the question of the group’s registration is decided. The text of the decision shall be deemed final once all the members of the group have signed it.
  4. Not later than within 5 working days of the group’s registration, the Central Electoral Commission must issue the group with forms for collecting the signatures of citizens.
  5. It shall not be permitted to alter the text of the decision proposed in the citizens’ petition to call a referendum.
  6. If, within the period starting from the day of the registration of the group with the Central Electoral Commission until the day of the issuance of forms for collecting the signatures of citizens, a member of the group withdraws his or her signature from the application to register the group, and if fewer than 15 members remain in the group, the citizens’ initiative to call a referendum shall be regarded as having been discontinued.”

5.2. While summarising, from the aspect relevant to the constitutional justice case at issue, the aforementioned legal regulation, established in Article 10 of the Law on Referendums in relation to the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, it should be noted that:

– when seeking to implement their right of initiative to call a referendum, citizens who meet the requirements established by law must submit to the Central Electoral Commission an application to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum (in the application, among other things, it must be indicated whether the text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum is preliminary or final) along with the text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum; if it is indicated in the application that the submitted text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum is preliminary, under the established procedure and at the request of the representatives of the citizens’ initiative group, assistance is provided by the Office of the Seimas in drawing up the final text of the decision; the text of a decision proposed to be adopted by referendum becomes final, i.e., such that is not allowed to be altered, only after it is signed by all the members of the respective citizens’ initiative group for a referendum;

– this article expressis verbis consolidates neither the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess the compliance of a draft law amending the Constitution with the Constitution in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution; nonetheless, it provides that, at its sitting, the Central Electoral Commission must decide on the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum after having assessed the submitted application along with the text of the decision proposed to be adopted by referendum.

5.3. While construing the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to decide on the question of the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, the following provisions of Article 20 “The Powers of the Central Electoral Commission in Organising and Conducting a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums are relevant.

Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of the latter article establishes the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, and Item 7 of Paragraph 1 of the same article—the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to oversee how the Law on Referendums is being implemented. While construing the aforementioned powers given to the Central Electoral Commission, it should, at the same time, be noted that the powers to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, as provided for in Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Referendums, also mean the powers of this commission to assess whether a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum observes the requirements established in the Law on Referendums as well as its powers to refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group that fails to observe the said requirements, inter alia, the requirement, established in Paragraph 1 of Article 10 of the Law on Referendums, that a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum must comprise not less than 15 citizens who have the electoral right, and the requirements, as established in Article 6, in relation to draft laws, other draft acts, and draft decisions proposed to be put to a referendum. If Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Referendums were construed in a different way, the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to oversee how the Law on Referendums is being implemented, as established in Item 7 of Paragraph 1 of the same article, would be denied: overseeing how the Law on Referendums is implemented would be meaningless if the Central Electoral Commission were not able to assess whether citizens’ initiative groups for referendums observe the requirements established in the Law on Referendums and were obliged to register those citizens’ initiative groups for referendums that fail to observe this law, inter alia, the citizens’ initiative groups that do not meet the requirements established by the law for the formation of these groups and/or those that disregard the requirements established for draft decisions proposed to be put to a referendum.

5.3.1. In this context, it should be noted that Article 6 “Requirements for Draft Laws, Other Draft Acts, and Draft Decisions Proposed To Be Put To a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums consolidates the requirements that apply to draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum, inter alia, the requirement that a draft law proposed to be put to a referendum must comply with the requirements established by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Procedure for Drawing up Laws and Other Normative Legal Acts (Paragraph 1).

While construing the aforementioned provision, it should be noted that the indicated Law on the Procedure for Drawing up Laws and Other Normative Legal Acts lost its validity on 1 January 2014, upon the entry into force of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, which was adopted by the Seimas on 18 September 2012 (Item 2 of Article 27 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking). The Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking establishes the principles of lawmaking, the stages of lawmaking, as well as the rights and duties of state and municipal institutions and establishments, and the rights and duties of other subjects participating in lawmaking (Paragraph 1 of Article 1), i.e., in substance, this law regulates the same relations as were regulated, prior to the entry into force of this law, by the Law on the Procedure for Drawing up Laws and Other Normative Legal Acts. Thus, although the reference contained in Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums to the Law on the Procedure for Drawing up Laws and Other Normative Legal Acts has not been changed since the latter law lost its validity and the regulation governing the relations in question was established in the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum are subject to the requirements stemming from the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking as a special law governing the procedure for drawing up normative legal acts.

5.3.1.1. The Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, among other things, prescribes the following:

– a draft law or any other draft legal act proposed to be put to a referendum must comply with the requirements concerning its form, structure, content, and language as set out in this law (Paragraph 4 of Article 1);

– lawmaking is a process that includes announcing law-making initiatives, drawing up draft legal acts, and adopting, signing, and publishing legal acts (Item 5 of Article 2);

– lawmaking follows the principles consolidated in this law, among them, the principle of systematicness, which means that legal norms must be compatible with one another, as well as that legal acts of lower legal force must not contradict legal acts of higher legal force, and the legal acts through which a particular law is implemented must be drafted and adopted in such a manner as to enter into force at the same time as that particular law or as its separate provisions that are implemented through these legal acts (Item 7 of Paragraph 2 of Article 3).

5.3.1.2. While summarising the aforementioned legal regulation, established in the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, from the aspect relevant to the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that:

– the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking establishes the requirements that apply to the form, structure, content, and language of a draft law or any other legal act proposed to be adopted by referendum, including a draft law amending the Constitution;

– the principles of lawmaking, inter alia, the requirements stemming from these principles in relation to the content of draft legal acts must be followed while drawing up draft legal acts, including draft legal acts proposed to be put to a referendum; according to the principle of systematicness, legal norms must be compatible with one another: a legal regulation proposed for adoption must be harmonious, and the provisions of a draft legal act that is proposed for adoption must be compatible with the provisions of other legal acts of either higher or the same legal force.

Thus, in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that, under the legal regulation established in the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, a draft law proposed to be put to a referendum must not contradict the Constitution, inter alia, a draft law amending the Constitution must pay heed to the requirements, stemming from the Constitution, that amendments to the Constitution must not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution.

5.3.2. Consequently, if the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, as provided for in Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Referendums, are construed in the context of Item 7 of Paragraph 1 of the same article, Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the same law, and Item 7 of Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, they mean that the Central Electoral Commission is obliged to assess whether a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum observes the requirements established by law in relation to draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum, inter alia, whether a draft law amending the Constitution pays heed to the requirements stipulating that amendments to the Constitution may not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution, as well as that this commission must refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group whose draft law proposed to be put to a referendum is not in line with the said requirements.

5.4. In this context, consideration should be given to the provisions of the Law on the Central Electoral Commission that, by their content, are, in substance, analogous to the above considered provisions of the Law on Referendums:

– the Central Electoral Commission is a permanent supreme state institution for organising and conducting elections and referendums, which is provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania (Paragraph 1 (wording of 29 March 2012) of Article 2);

– one of the tasks of the Central Electoral Commission is to organise and conduct referendums (Item 1 (wording of 29 March 2012) of Paragraph 1 of Article 3);

– when conducting referendums, the Central Electoral Commission registers a citizens’ initiative group for holding a referendum and issues forms for collecting the signatures of citizens (Item 1 of Paragraph 6 of Article 3);

– when performing its functions established in this and other laws, the Central Electoral Commission has the right to request from all state and municipal institutions and establishments, as well as from other establishments, enterprises, and organisations, and electoral and referendum commissions that any violations of, inter alia, the Law on Referendums, as well as those of other legal acts regulating the organisation and conduct of referendums, be eliminated (Item 2 of Paragraph 8 of Article 3);

– in its activities, the Central Electoral Commission follows, among other things, the Constitution, this law, the Law on Referendums, and other laws and legal acts (Paragraph 1 of Article 4);

– when implementing its powers, the Central Electoral Commission passes acts—decisions (Paragraph 1 of Article 12).

5.4.1. Thus, as established in the Law on the Central Electoral Commission, one of the tasks of the Central Electoral Commission, which is the permanent supreme state institution for, inter alia, organising and conducting referendums, is to organise and conduct referendums. While performing this task and ensuring that the requirements set by the legal acts regulating the organisation and conduct of referendums are observed, the Central Electoral Commission adopts decisions. Under the legal regulation established in the Law on the Central Electoral Commission, the Central Electoral Commission must follow the Constitution and laws, inter alia, the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking.

It should be noted that Item 1 of Paragraph 6 of Article 3 of the Law on the Central Electoral Commission consolidates the same powers of the Central Electoral Commission, i.e., the powers to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, as established in Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Referendums; thus, these powers should be construed in an analogous manner, i.e., namely, as meaning that the Central Electoral Commission is obliged to assess whether a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum observes the requirements established by law for draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum, inter alia, whether a draft law amending the Constitution pays heed to the requirements stipulating that amendments to the Constitution may not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution, as well as that this commission must refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group whose draft law proposed to be put to a referendum is not in line with the said requirements. If these powers of the Central Electoral Commission, which are established in the Law on the Central Electoral Commission, were construed in a different way, such a different construction would deny the duty, established in Paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the same law, for the Central Electoral Commission to follow the Constitution, laws, and other legal acts in its activities.

5.4.2. It should be noted that complaints may be filed against the decisions of the Central Electoral Commission in the manner provided for by law (Paragraph 6 of Article 12 of the Law on the Central Electoral Commission).

In this context, consideration should be given to the following relevant provisions of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases (wording of 19 September 2000) (hereinafter referred to as the LPAC), which consolidate the competence of administrative courts to decide cases related to referendums:

– administrative courts decide cases, inter alia, concerning violations of electoral laws and the Law on Referendums (Item 9 (wording of 11 November 2004) of Paragraph 1 of Article 15);

– the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania is the last instance for cases subsequent to complaints against the decisions or inaction of the Central Electoral Commission, with the exception of those assigned to the competence of the Constitutional Court (Item 4 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20);

– complaints against the decisions of the Central Electoral Commission may be filed by the persons specified in the Law on Referendums on the grounds and within the time limits provided for in this law; the complaints are filed with the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 119).

In this context, it should also be mentioned that Paragraph 4 of Article 28 of the Law on Referendums prescribes: “Complaints against the actions of the Central Electoral Commission performed by the Central Electoral Commission while implementing the provisions of Chapter II of this Law shall be filed with the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania in accordance with the procedure stipulated in this Article. The examination of these complaints shall be subject to the time limits established in Paragraph 2 of this Article.”

Chapter II “Initiating and Calling a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums contains the provisions regulating, inter alia, the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum (Article 9), the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum (Article 10), and the collection of the signatures of citizens in support of a petition to call a referendum (Article 11). Thus, under Paragraph 4 of Article 28 of the Law on Referendums, complaints against the decisions (inaction) of the Central Electoral Commission adopted in relation to the implementation of the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum, inter alia, the registration of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, may be filed with the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania. Under Paragraph 1 of the same article, a complaint against the said actions (inaction) of the Central Electoral Commission may be filed by, inter alia, the members of the respective citizens’ initiative group, parties and their representatives; Paragraph 2 of the same article, inter alia, prescribes that complaints against the actions of the Central Electoral Commission may be filed with the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania within the period of 5 days of the adoption of the decision; the complaint must be examined within 48 hours of its filing with the court.

While construing the legal regulation established in the Law on the Central Electoral Commission from the aspect relevant to the constitutional justice case at issue in the context of the indicated provisions of the LPAC (wording of 19 September 2000) and the Law on Referendums, it should be noted that complaints against the decisions of the Central Electoral Commission, inter alia, those related to the implementation of the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum, may be filed with the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania. Thus, complaints may be filed with the said court against the decisions of the Central Electoral Commission refusing to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum where such a group fails to observe the requirements established in the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking in relation to the content of a draft law proposed to be put to a referendum, inter alia, where such a group submits a draft law contradicting the Constitution or a draft law amending the Constitution that disregards the requirements, stemming from the Constitution, that amendments to the Constitution may not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution.

  1. It has been mentioned that, in the case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, a petitioner, the Constitutional Court is investigating whether the Law on Referendums insofar as it, according to the petitioner, provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess whether a draft law amending the Constitution complies with the Constitution in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

6.1. It has also been mentioned that the petitioner raises the question of legislative omission, i.e., the petitioner does not impugn the legal regulation consolidated in the Law on Referendums, but rather it impugns something that is not established in this law, which, however, in the opinion of the petitioner, should have been established therein.

As mentioned, a legal gap, inter alia, legislative omission, always means that the legal regulation of certain social relations is established neither explicitly nor implicitly, neither in a particular legal act (part thereof) nor any other legal acts, even though there exists a need for a legal regulation of these social relations, as well as that, in the case of legislative omission, the said legal regulation must be established precisely in the said particular legal act (particular part thereof), since this is required by a certain legal act of higher power, inter alia, the Constitution itself.

6.2. It has been mentioned that, under the Constitution, referendums must be organised by the institution expressis verbis indicated in the Constitution, which is the Central Electoral Commission; the constitutional status of the Central Electoral Commission implies its powers, inter alia, to oversee and take measures ensuring that subjects participating in the organisation and conduct of a referendum would observe the Constitution and the requirements stemming from laws.

It has also been mentioned that a fundamental requirement for a democratic state under the rule of law is the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution, where it is stipulated that any law or any other act contrary to the Constitution is invalid; this principle is, from various aspects, also consolidated in other articles of the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 6 thereof, which stipulates that the Constitution is an integral and directly applicable act; under the Constitution, the law must lay down the powers of the institution organising referendums—the Central Electoral Commission, which derive from the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and responsible governance, to review whether an issue proposed to be decided by referendum complies with the requirements set in relation to the content and form of such issues, as well as its powers to refuse to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum where such a group fails to fulfil the duty to bring the decision proposed to be put to the referendum into line with the Constitution; the said powers, inter alia, imply the duty of the Central Electoral Commission not to register such a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum that proposes putting to the referendum a draft amendment to the Constitution that disregards substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution.

6.3. As mentioned before, Article 10 of the Law on Referendums expressis verbis consolidates neither the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess the compliance of a draft law amending the Constitution with the Constitution in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution; however, the powers of the Central Electoral Commission, as provided for in Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Referendums, to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum also mean its powers to assess whether a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum observes the requirements established in the Law on Referendums, as well as its powers to refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group that fails to observe these requirements. In this ruling, it has been held that, if the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum are construed in the context of Item 7 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 and Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums and Item 7 of Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, they mean that the Central Electoral Commission is obliged to assess whether a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum observes the requirements established by law in relation to draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum, inter alia, whether a draft law amending the Constitution pays heed to the requirements stipulating that amendments to the Constitution may not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution, as well as that this commission must refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group whose draft law proposed to be put to a referendum is not in line with the said requirements.

It has also been mentioned that Item 1 of Paragraph 6 of Article 3 of the Law on the Central Electoral Commission consolidates the same powers of the Central Electoral Commission, i.e., the powers to register a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum, as established in Item 1 of Paragraph 1 of Article 20 of the Law on Referendums; thus, it should be construed in an analogous manner, i.e., namely as meaning that the Central Electoral Commission is obliged to assess whether a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum observes the requirements established by law in relation to draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum, inter alia, whether a draft law amending the Constitution pays heed to the requirements that amendments to the Constitution may not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations set on the alteration of the Constitution, as well as that this commission must refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group whose draft law proposed to be put to a referendum is not in line with the said requirements.

It should be noted that the powers of the Central Electoral Commission, as consolidated in the provisions of the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Central Electoral Commission, to refuse to register such a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum that fails to observe the requirements established in the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking in relation to the content of a draft law proposed to be put to a referendum also include the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to review the content of a draft law (inter alia, a draft law amending the Constitution) proposed by a citizens’ initiative group for adoption in a referendum.

6.4. Thus, the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Central Electoral Commission implicitly lay down the legal regulation (which is mandatory under the Constitution) consolidating, in the cases where a draft law amending the Constitution is proposed to be put to a referendum, the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to review the compliance of such a draft law with the requirements established in relation to its content and form, inter alia, the requirement that amendments to the Constitution may not violate the harmony of the provisions of the Constitution and must observe substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution, as well as the powers of this commission to refuse to register a citizens’ initiative group that fails to fulfil the duty to bring, inter alia, a draft law amending the Constitution, which is proposed by them to be put to a referendum, into line with the Constitution.

In view of this fact, it should be held that the Law on Referendums does not contain the legislative omission indicated by the petitioner.

  1. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that the Law on Referendums insofar as it explicitly provides for neither the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess whether a draft law amending the Constitution complies with the Constitution in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.
  2. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should also be noted that legal certainty and clarity, which is one of the essential elements of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, implies that any legal regulation is subject to certain mandatory requirements: it must be clear and harmonious, and legal norms must be formulated precisely and may not contain any ambiguities (inter alia, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 30 May 2003); the formulations of legal acts must be precise, the consistency and internal harmony of the legal system must be ensured, and legal acts may not contain provisions simultaneously regulating the same public relations in a different manner (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 13 December 2004 and 29 September 2005).

Thus, the legislature, when regulating the relations connected to the organisation of referendums, must formulate legal norms in a clear and precise manner, so that they would be understandable to the participants of the legal relations connected to referendums. In this context, it should be noted that the requirement of legal certainty and clarity would be better complied with if the Law on Referendums explicitly established that the Central Electoral Commission is given the powers, stemming from the Constitution and currently implicitly consolidated in the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Central Electoral Commission, to assess whether a draft law proposed by citizens to be put to a referendum is in compliance with the Constitution, as well as that this commission is given the powers not to register, on the grounds of the said assessment, such a citizens’ initiative group that proposes putting to a referendum a draft law not complying with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

For example, Paragraph 3 of Article 13 “The Preliminary Examination of a Citizens’ Petition to Call a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums explicitly provides for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess whether the requirements set by laws have been observed in collecting signatures in support of a petition to call a referendum, as well as for the powers of this commission to reject such a petition on the grounds of the said assessment where appropriate: “Where the time limit for implementing the citizens’ right of initiative to call a referendum is violated, or the required number of citizens’ signatures is not collected, or gross violations of the law (falsified citizens’ signatures or violations of the principle of voluntariness in collecting signatures) are determined in the submitted documents, the Central Electoral Commission shall, by its reasoned decision, reject the petition to call the referendum and inform the group and the Seimas about this.”

  1. It should be noted that the Seimas has the obligation to adopt the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Law on Referendums. This law is indicated in Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 2 “The List of the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitutional Laws” of the Law on the List of Constitutional Laws, adopted by the Seimas on 15 March 2012.

IV

On the compliance of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums with Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution

  1. The Constitutional Court has held on more than one occasion that, having found that a law, whose compliance with the Constitution is not impugned by the petitioner, contains such provisions intervening in the social relations regulated by the impugned law that are in conflict with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court must state this fact. In the constitutional justice case at issue, this is applicable to the provisions that are not impugned by the petitioner but are consolidated in the same law the compliance of whose other provisions with the Constitution is impugned by the petitioner.
  2. In the constitutional justice case at issue, while investigating whether the Law on Referendums, insofar as it, according to the petitioner, provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission to assess whether a draft law amending the Constitution complies with the Constitution in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum a draft law amending the Constitution that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is not in conflict with the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has construed the powers of the Central Electoral Commission, as established in the Law on Referendums, by invoking, inter alia, the provisions of Article 6 “Requirements for Draft Laws, Other Draft Acts, and Draft Decisions Proposed To Be Put To a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums.

2.1. Article 6 of the Law on Referendums prescribes:

“1. A draft law proposed to be put to a referendum must comply with the requirements established by the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on the Procedure for Drawing up Laws and Other Normative Legal Acts.

  1. A draft decision proposed to be put to a referendum shall indicate:

1) the type of the referendum;

2) the text of the law or another act proposed to be put to the referendum, or the text of the issue concerning the life of the State or the Nation that is proposed to be decided by referendum.

  1. At the request of the representatives of a citizens’ initiative group, the Office of the Seimas must ensure, by enlisting legal specialists, the support in drawing up the text of the law or another act or the text of the issue (decision) concerning the life of the State or the Nation that is being proposed to be decided referendum.
  2. The notion ‘decision’ as used in this Law shall include a law or another act or decision.”

2.2. The requirements in relation to a decision—a law or another act or decision—proposed to be put to a referendum are set out only in Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums.

It has been mentioned that, although the reference, contained in Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums, to the Law on the Procedure for Drawing up Laws and Other Normative Legal Acts has not been changed since the latter law lost its validity and the regulation governing the relations in question was laid down in the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, draft laws proposed to be put to a referendum are subject to the requirements stemming from the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking as a special law governing the procedure for drawing up normative legal acts.

While summarising the legal regulation established in the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking, it has been mentioned in this ruling that the said law lays down the requirements that apply to the form, structure, content, and language of a draft law or any other legal act, thus also a draft law amending the Constitution, proposed to be adopted by referendum; when drawing up draft legal acts, the principles of lawmaking, inter alia, requirements stemming from these principles, must be followed in relation to the content of these draft legal acts, including draft legal acts proposed to be put to a referendum; according to the principle of systematicness, legal norms must be compatible with one another: a legal regulation proposed for adoption must be harmonious, and the provisions of a draft legal act that is proposed for adoption must be compatible with the provisions of other legal acts of either higher or the same legal force.

In addition, Article 3 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking sets out the following principles of lawmaking, which imply corresponding requirements in relation to the content of draft legal acts proposed to be adopted by referendum:

– purposefulness, which means that a draft legal act must be drawn up and a legal act must be adopted only in the case where the sought objectives cannot be achieved by other means (Item 1 of Paragraph 2);

– proportionality, which means that the chosen means of legal regulation must make the administrative and other burden as small as possible and not restrict the subjects of legal relations more than necessary in order to achieve the objectives of the legal regulation (Item 2 of Paragraph 2);

– respect for the rights and freedoms of the person, which means that the provisions of legal acts must ensure and may not deny the rights and freedoms of the person and legitimate interests established in the Constitution, legal acts of the European Union, international agreements of the Republic of Lithuania, as well as laws and other legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania (Item 3 of Paragraph 2);

– clarity, which means that any legal regulation established in legal acts must be logical, consistent, concise, understandable, precise, clear, and unambiguous (Item 6 of Paragraph 2).

Article 13 “The Form and Structure of Legal Acts” of the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking establishes the requirements for the form and structure of laws and other legal acts, inter alia, the requirement that a law must consist of parts, chapters, sections, and articles; depending on the character, content, and scope of a law, it may not consist of all the established constituent parts (Paragraph 2).

2.3. Thus, it should be noted that Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking give rise to certain requirements applicable in relation to the content of specifically draft laws proposed to be adopted by referendum; no requirements are established in relation to any other decisions proposed to be put to a referendum.

In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should also be noted that Article 6 “Requirements for Draft Laws, Other Draft Acts, and Draft Decisions Proposed To Be Put To a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums does not establish the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be submitted as a single issue in a decision proposed to be put to a referendum.

  1. It has been mentioned that Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, when it is construed in conjunction with the provision of Article 2 of the Constitution that sovereignty belongs to the nation and with the provision of Article 4 of the Constitution that the nation executes its supreme sovereign power directly, gives rise to the imperative that preconditions must be created for determining the actual will of the nation in a referendum; consequently, under the Constitution, several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be put to a vote in a referendum as a single issue; acting otherwise would deny the possibility of determining the actual will of the nation regarding each separate most significant issue concerning the life of the state and the nation; in the cases where a referendum on several most significant issues concerning the life of the state and the nation, which are however unrelated by their content and nature, is initiated on the basis of Paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution, under which a referendum is called if not less than 300,000 citizens with the electoral right so request, the approval of citizens for calling such a referendum must be expressed by signing separately for each of the said several issues submitted to the referendum; thus, under the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 9 thereof, the law must establish the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be put to a referendum as a single issue.
  2. It has been mentioned that a legal gap, inter alia, legislative omission, always means that the legal regulation of certain social relations is established neither explicitly nor implicitly, neither in a particular legal act (part thereof) nor any other legal acts, even though there exists a need for a legal regulation of these social relations, as well as that the said legal regulation, in the case of legislative omission, must be established precisely in the said particular legal act (particular part thereof), since this is required by a certain legal act of higher power, inter alia, the Constitution itself.
  3. It has also been mentioned that the requirements for the text of a decision—a law or another act or decision—proposed to be put to a referendum are set out only in Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums; Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Law on Referendums and the Law on the Fundamentals of Lawmaking give rise to certain requirements applicable in relation to the content of specifically draft laws that are proposed to be adopted by referendum; no requirements are established in relation to any other decisions proposed to be put to a referendum; Article 6 “Requirements for Draft Laws, Other Draft Acts, and Draft Decisions Proposed To Be Put To a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums does not establish the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be submitted as a single issue in a decision proposed to be put to a referendum.

Thus, the aforementioned legal regulation disregards the imperative, stemming from Paragraph 1 of Article 9 of the Constitution, that preconditions must be created for determining the actual will of the nation in a referendum, as well as the requirement, implied by the latter imperative, that the actual will of the nation must be determined separately regarding each most significant issue concerning the life of the state and the nation, which is submitted to a referendum; in addition, this legal regulation disregards the duty of the legislature, stemming from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 9 thereof, to establish by law the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be put to a referendum as a single issue.

  1. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Article 6 of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it does not establish the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be submitted as a single issue in a decision proposed to be put to a referendum, is in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution.

V

On the compliance of Article 14 of the Law on Referendums with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law

  1. In the constitutional justice case at issue, the Seimas, a petitioner, requests an investigation into whether Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it does not provide for the right of the Seimas to decide on calling a referendum where it receives the conclusion from a group of experts that the text of the decision proposed in the citizens’ petition to call the referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

The arguments of the petitioner make it clear that the petitioner impugns the legal regulation established in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums insofar as it provides that the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

Thus, in the case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Seimas, a petitioner, the Constitutional Court will investigate whether Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it provides that the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum in the cases where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

  1. The Seimas, a petitioner, doubts the compliance of the impugned provisions of the Law on Referendums with the Constitution due to the fact that these provisions imply that, even after receiving the conclusion from a group of experts, formed by the Seimas itself, that the text of the decision submitted in a citizens’ petition to call a referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, the Seimas is not allowed to consider that question and preclude the adoption of the law or any other act contradicting the Constitution. The provisions of the Law on Referendums allow the Seimas to decide only on the question of the announcement of a date for a referendum, and, only after the entry into force of a law or any other legal act adopted by referendum, the Seimas may (in the cases where the legal act adopted by referendum is a law) apply to the Constitutional Court for an investigation into whether the law adopted by referendum is not in conflict with the Constitution. Thus, under the impugned legal regulation, the Seimas cannot fulfil its constitutional duty—not to violate the Constitution.
  2. Article 14 “The Procedure for Adopting a Resolution of the Seimas on a Petition to Call a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums prescribes:

“1. The Seimas, having received a properly registered final act of the group along with the citizens’ demands and the conclusion of the Central Electoral Commission that the submitted documents comply with this Law, shall, at its next sitting during the session, deliberate the question of a date for calling the referendum. The representatives of the referendum group shall be invited to participate in this sitting. A resolution of the Seimas on a date for calling the referendum shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure set out in the Statute of the Seimas not later than within 1 month of the day on which the deliberation on the question of a date for calling the referendum started.

  1. Where a group of experts, formed by the Seimas, arrives at the conclusion that the text of the decision submitted in a citizens’ petition to call a referendum may not be in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Seimas shall publish this conclusion to the public; however, this conclusion may not be a ground for not calling the referendum.”

3.1. Under the legal regulation laid down in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, a properly registered final act of a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum along with the citizens’ demands and the conclusion of the Central Electoral Commission that the submitted documents comply with the Law on Referendums constitute a ground for the Seimas to consider the question of calling the referendum.

In this context, it should be mentioned that, under the legal regulation established in Paragraphs 1 and 6 of Article 11 “Collecting the Signatures of Citizens” of the Law on Referendums, on the forms issued by the Central Electoral Commission for collecting the signatures of citizens, a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum collects the signatures of citizens in support of the petition to call the referendum; having collected the required number of the signatures of citizens in accordance with the procedure provided for by the law, a citizens’ initiative group for a referendum draws up its final act and submits it to the Central Electoral Commission along with the citizens’ demands. Under the legal regulation established in Paragraphs 1–3 of Article 13 “The Preliminary Examination of a Citizens’ Petition to Call a Referendum” of the Law on Referendums, the Central Electoral Commission verifies whether the submitted documents meet the requirements of the Law on Referendums: inter alia, it verifies whether the required number of signatures has been collected, whether the time limit set by the law for collecting signatures has not been violated, as well as whether the signatures have not been falsified, and whether the collecting of signatures has not violated the principle of voluntariness, i.e., whether the requirements set for collecting the signatures of citizens have been met; having determined that the requirements established by the Law on Referendums have not been violated, the Central Electoral Commission submits the documents along with its conclusion to the Seimas; if it is found that the requirements established by the law have been violated, the Central Electoral Commission, taking account of the character of the violated requirements and/or the character of their violations, either sets a time limit for eliminating the deficiencies or rejects the petition to call a referendum and then notifies the citizens’ initiative group of its decision.

3.2. It should be noted that the Seimas is allowed to consider only the question of the announcement of a date for calling a referendum, and that it is obliged to adopt a resolution on a date for calling a referendum not later than within 1 month of the day on which the consideration of that question was started at the sitting of the Seimas (Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Law on Referendums).

It should also be noted that, under the legal regulation established in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, where doubts arise regarding the compliance of a decision proposed in a citizens’ petition to call a referendum with the Constitution, the Seimas may form a group of experts for preparing a conclusion on that question; such a conclusion of the said group of experts is not binding on the Seimas. However, even after receiving the conclusion of a group of experts that the text of the decision submitted in a citizens’ petition to call a referendum may not be in line with the Constitution, the Seimas is not allowed not to call the referendum; as established in Paragraph 2 of Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, the conclusion of the group of experts may not be a ground for not calling the referendum. Thus, the Seimas is in all cases bound by the duty, established in Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, to adopt a resolution on the announcement of a date for a referendum not later than within 1 month of the day on which the consideration of this question started at the sitting of the Seimas, i.e., the Seimas is obliged to call a referendum in all cases after it receives a properly registered final act of a citizens’ initiative group for the referendum along with the citizens’ demands and the conclusion of the Central Electoral Commission that the submitted documents comply with the Law on Referendums.

3.3. While summarising the legal regulation laid down in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums in the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum in all cases after it receives a properly registered final act of a citizens’ initiative group for the referendum along with the citizens’ demands and the conclusion of the Central Electoral Commission that the submitted documents comply with the Law on Referendums, i.e., even in the cases where a decision proposed to be put to a referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

  1. As mentioned before, in the constitutional justice case at issue, subsequent to the petition of the Seimas, a petitioner, the Constitutional Court is investigating whether Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it provides that the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

4.1. It has been mentioned that a fundamental requirement for a democratic state under the rule of law is the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, which is consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 7 of the Constitution, where it is stipulated that any law or any other act contrary to the Constitution is invalid; this principle is, from various aspects, also consolidated in other articles of the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 6 thereof, which stipulates that the Constitution is an integral and directly applicable act; the constitutional principles of a state under the rule of law, the supremacy of the Constitution, and responsible governance give rise to the duty of the Seimas not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum does not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution; under the Constitution, the law must lay down a ground for the institution calling referendums—the Seimas not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution; this ground, inter alia, also includes the cases where a draft amendment submitted to a referendum disregards substantive limitations, stemming from the Constitution, on the alteration of the Constitution.

4.2. It has also been mentioned that, under the legal regulation established in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum even in the cases where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

4.3. Thus, when establishing, in Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, the duty of the Seimas to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution, regard was not paid to the requirement, which stems from the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 thereof, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, that the law must lay down a ground for the Seimas not to call a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum would not comply with the requirements stemming from the Constitution.

  1. In the light of the foregoing arguments, the conclusion should be drawn that Article 14 of the Law on Referendums, insofar as it provides that the Seimas is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution, is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 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, 54, 55, and 56 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

  1. To recognise that the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 64-2570), insofar as it explicitly provides neither for the powers of the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Lithuania to assess whether a draft law amending the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania complies with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania in the cases where such a draft law is proposed by the citizens of the Republic of Lithuania to be put to a referendum, nor for the powers of this commission to adopt, on the grounds of the said assessment, a decision precluding an initiative to adopt by referendum such a draft law amending the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania that would disregard the requirements stemming from the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
  2. To recognise that Article 6 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 64-2570), insofar as it does not establish the requirement that several issues unrelated by their content and nature, or several unrelated amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, or several unrelated provisions of laws may not be submitted as a single issue in a decision proposed to be put to a referendum, is in conflict with Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Article 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
  3. To recognise that Article 14 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Referendums (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2002, No. 64-2570), insofar as it provides that the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania is obliged to adopt a resolution on calling a referendum where the decision proposed to be put to the referendum may not be in line with the requirements stemming from the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, is in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 and Paragraph 1 of Article 7 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

                                                                                            Vytautas Greičius

                                                                                             Danutė Jočienė

                                                                                             Pranas Kuconis

                                                                                             Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                             Vytas Milius

                                                                                             Egidijus Šileikis

                                                                                             Algirdas Taminskas

                                                                                             Dainius Žalimas