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On accepting a petition of the petitioner

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

DECISION

ON THE PETITION OF THE SUPREME ADMINISTRATIVE COURT OF LITHUANIA REQUESTING TO CONSTRUE THE RULING OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA OF 15 MAY 2007

14 March 2013

Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court Egidijus Bieliūnas, Toma Birmontienė, Pranas Kuconis, Gediminas Mesonis, Ramutė Ruškytė, Egidijus Šileikis, Algirdas Taminskas, Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis, and Dainius Žalimas,

with the secretary—Daiva Pitrėnaitė,

at a procedural sitting of the Constitutional Court considered a petition of the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, requesting construction of whether “the second section of Item 10 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the compliance of Paragraph 3 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 57 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases, Paragraph 4 (wording of 25 November 1999) of Article 10 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 11 (wording of 25 November 1999) of the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 15 May 2007—‘[f]rom Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution whereby in the Republic of Lithuania justice shall be administered only by courts, there appears a duty of courts to consider cases justly and objectively, to adopt reasoned and substantiated decisions, therefore, there cannot be any such legal situation where a court would not be able to become familiarised with the case material which contains information constituting a state secret (or which is other classified information). In its ruling of 19 December 1996, the Constitutional Court held that “the right of a judge who investigates a case to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret is grounded on Article 109 of the Constitution <…> as well as on Article 117 of the Constitution” and that “the right of a judge to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret and which is necessary for the investigation of a case is determined by the function of the court as a state institution to implement justice but never by entering the position of the judge into any lists”’—should be understood as meaning that a judge, who considers a case, in case it is necessary to properly administer justice in the considered case, has an ex officio right, in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, to become familiarised with classified information even in a situation, where, according to the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets, he has no authorisation to handle or familiarise with classified information.”

The Constitutional Court

has established:

  1. On 15 May 2007, in constitutional justice case No. 7/04-8/04, the Constitutional Court passed the Ruling “On the compliance of Paragraph 3 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 57 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases, Paragraph 4 (wording of 25 November 1999) of Article 10 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 11 (wording of 25 November 1999) of the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2007, No. 54-2097; hereinafter also referred to as the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 May 2007).
  2. In the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 May 2007 it was recognised that:

– Paragraph 3 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2000, No. 85-2566) of Article 57 of the Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases is not in conflict with the Constitution;

– Paragraph 4 (wording of 25 November 1999) of Article 10 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1999, No. 105-3019) of Article 11 (wording of 25 November 1999) of the Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets were not in conflict with the Constitution.

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, requests construction of whether “the second section of Item 10 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania ‘On the compliance of Paragraph 3 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 57 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases, Paragraph 4 (wording of 25 November 1999) of Article 10 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 11 (wording of 25 November 1999) of the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania’ of 15 May 2007—‘[f]rom Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution whereby in the Republic of Lithuania justice shall be administered only by courts, there appears a duty of courts to consider cases justly and objectively, to adopt reasoned and substantiated decisions, therefore, there cannot be any such legal situation where a court would not be able to become familiarised with the case material which contains information constituting a state secret (or which is other classified information). In its ruling of 19 December 1996, the Constitutional Court held that “the right of a judge who investigates a case to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret is grounded on Article 109 of the Constitution <…> as well as on Article 117 of the Constitution” and that “the right of a judge to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret and which is necessary for the investigation of a case is determined by the function of the court as a state institution to implement justice but never by entering the position of the judge into any lists”’—should be understood as meaning that a judge, who considers a case, in case it is necessary to properly administer justice in the considered case, has an ex officio right, in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, to become familiarised with classified information even in a situation, where, according to the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets, he has no authorisation to handle or familiarise with classified information.”

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

  1. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania, the petitioner, requests construction of the second section of Item 10 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 15 May 2007, which was set forth as follows:

“From Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution whereby in the Republic of Lithuania justice shall be administered only by courts, there appears a duty of courts to consider cases justly and objectively, to adopt reasoned and substantiated decisions, therefore, there cannot be any such legal situation where a court would not be able to become familiarised with the case material which contains information constituting a state secret (or which is other classified information). In its ruling of 19 December 1996, the Constitutional Court held that ‘the right of a judge who investigates a case to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret is grounded on Article 109 of the Constitution <…> as well as on Article 117 of the Constitution’ and that ‘the right of a judge to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret and which is necessary for the investigation of a case is determined by the function of the court as a state institution to implement justice but never by entering the position of the judge into any lists’”.

The petitioner requests construction of whether this provision should be understood as meaning that, a judge, who considers a case, in case it is necessary to properly administer justice in the considered case, has an ex officio right, in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, to become familiarised with classified information even in a situation, where, according to the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets, he has no authorisation to handle or familiarise with classified information.

The petitioner notes that in the administrative case considered by it a situation occurred, where the State Security Department, the respondent, and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defence, a third interested party, while following only the provisions of the Law on State and Official Secrets, refused to submit classified documents to judges appointed to consider the case under procedure established by law, who have no authorisation to handle or familiarise with classified information, issued in accordance with the Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets, even though the said documents had been submitted to the court of first instance, whereas the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania must verify the lawfulness and reasonableness of the decision of the said court, and, according to the chamber of judges considering the case, the aforesaid documents are necessary in order to solve the case justly.

  1. In its acts the Constitutional Court has held more than once that the purpose of the institute of construction of Constitutional Court rulings and its other final acts is to disclose the contents and meaning of corresponding provisions of a Constitutional Court’s ruling or its other final act more broadly and in more detail, if it is necessary, in order to ensure proper execution of that Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act so that the said Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act would be followed.

In its decision of 14 March 2006 (case No. 13/2000-14/2000-20/2000-21/2000-22/2000-25/2000-31/2000-35/2000-39/2000-8/01-31/01), the Constitutional Court held that the situations are not impossible, where certain provisions of a Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act are not clear enough to the subject who must follow the Constitutional Court’s ruling, or its other final act, and execute it, nor are such situations impossible, where, due to certain reasons, the Constitutional Court sees that certain provisions of a Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act have to be construed in order to ensure proper execution of the Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act so that the said Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act would be followed.

In the context of this decision, it needs to be noted that, in its decision of 22 April 2010, the Constitutional Court held that, if a court which is considering a case applies to the Constitutional Court with a petition requesting to construe corresponding provisions of a Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act, and if the Constitutional Court does not construe the provisions of the Constitutional Court ruling or other final act and does not disclose the content and meaning thereof more broadly and in more detail, if it is necessary, in order to ensure proper execution of that Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act so that the said Constitutional Court’s ruling or other final act would be followed, the values, inter alia the constitutional rights of the person, entrenched in and defended and protected by the Constitution, could be violated, and this would mean that justice would not be administered.

Conforming to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 3 of Article 22, Articles 25, 28, and Paragraph 1 of Article 61 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania has passed the following

decision:

To accept the petition of the second section of Item 10 of Chapter III of the reasoning part of the Ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania “On the compliance of Paragraph 3 (wording of 19 September 2000) of Article 57 of the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Proceedings of Administrative Cases, Paragraph 4 (wording of 25 November 1999) of Article 10 and Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 11 (wording of 25 November 1999) of the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” of 15 May 2007—“[f]rom Paragraph 1 of Article 109 of the Constitution whereby in the Republic of Lithuania justice shall be administered only by courts, there appears a duty of courts to consider cases justly and objectively, to adopt reasoned and substantiated decisions, therefore, there cannot be any such legal situation where a court would not be able to become familiarised with the case material which contains information constituting a state secret (or which is other classified information). In its ruling of 19 December 1996, the Constitutional Court held that ‘the right of a judge who investigates a case to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret is grounded on Article 109 of the Constitution <…> as well as on Article 117 of the Constitution’ and that ‘the right of a judge to familiarise himself with the information which is considered a state secret and which is necessary for the investigation of a case is determined by the function of the court as a state institution to implement justice but never by entering the position of the judge into any lists’”—should be understood as meaning that a judge, who considers a case, in case it is necessary to properly administer justice in the considered case, has an ex officio right, in conformity with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, to become familiarised with classified information even in a situation, where, according to the Republic of Lithuania Law on State Secrets and Official Secrets, he has no authorisation to handle or familiarise with classified information.

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

The decision is promulgated in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:                                    Egidijus Bieliūnas

                                                                                                        Toma Birmontienė

                                                                                                        Pranas Kuconis

                                                                                                        Gediminas Mesonis

                                                                                                        Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                                        Egidijus Šileikis

                                                                                                        Algirdas Taminskas

                                                                                                        Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

                                                                                                        Dainius Žalimas