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On the dissolution of Vilnius City Council

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF
THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

 R U L I N G

On the compliance of the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” of 15 April 1993 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania

 17 September 1993, Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed from Justices of the Constitutional Court: Algirdas Gailiūnas, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zigmas Levickis, Vladas Pavilonis, Pranas Vytautas Rasimavičius, Stasys Stačiokas, Teodora Staugaitienė, Stasys Šedbaras and Juozas Žilys

The court reporter—Rolanda Stimbirytė

Petras Algirdas Miškinis, acting as the representative of a group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner

Juozas Bernatonis and Nijolė Šidagienė, acting as the representatives of the Seimas, the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Paragraph 1 of Article 1 of Law on the Constitutional Court, in its public hearing considered case No. 2 subsequent to the petition submitted to the Court by a group of the Seimas members to investigate the conformity of the Seimas Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” of 15 April 1993 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

Subsequent to the suggestions made by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania as well as the Seimas Committee for Municipal Affairs, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, by the Resolution “On the Commission for the Investigation into the Situation in the Vilnius City Council and Board” of 3 February 1993, formed the commission and obligated it to present their conclusions to the Seimas until 31 March 1993. The commission has taken two alternative decisions:

  1. Not to recommend the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania to dissolve Vilnius City Council and to resolve the issue of dismissing guilty officials from their respective posts.
  2. To take measures for the dissolution of the Vilnius City Council.

The Seimas Committee for Municipal Affairs in the sitting on 22 March, 1993 considered the conclusions of the Commission, approved of them and appealed to the Seimas with the request to change the status of the Commission entitling it to the right of proposing the Seimas to dissolve the Vilnius City Council.

The Seimas, pursuant to Article 123 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 28 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law “On the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government” as well as the Law “On Direct Administration on a Municipal Territory” and on the basis of the conclusions of the Commission formed to investigate the situation in the Vilnius City Council and Board, on 15 April 1993, adopted the Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities”. The Seimas decided the following:

  1. To dissolve the Vilnius City Municipal Council and to introduce direct administration on the municipal territory until the formation of the new Vilnius City Council.

In the time of direct administration on the municipal territory to suspend the validity of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Fundamentals of Local Self-Government.

  1. In conformity with Paragraph 7 of Article 26 of the Law on Labour Contract, to dismiss from office Valentinas Šapalas, chairman of the Vilnius City Council, Alvydas Karalius, deputy chairman of the Council, Vytautas Jasiulaitis, mayor of the city and Vidutis Kamaitis, deputy mayor of the city.
  2. To charge the Government of the Republic of Lithuania with:

(1) immediately appointing an authorised official of the Government on Vilnius territory and resolving the issues of transferring to him material values and documentation.

(2) approving the appointment and salary lists of the staff of the Executive body of the authorised official.

  1. To organise an election to the Vilnius City Council until 28 November 1993.
  2. To commission the Seimas Committee for Municipal Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania until 15 May 1993 to draft the amendments to the laws of the Republic of Lithuania on the fundamentals of local self-government and elections to municipal councils; and the Central Electoral Committee—to amend the procedure of elections to municipal councils prescribed by law and set the date for the election to the Vilnius City Council.
  3. To present to the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania the material collected by the commission formed to investigate the situation in the Vilnius City Council and Board.

(Official Gazette of the Seimas and the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, 1993, No. 13-314).

The petitioner requests that the Constitutional Court investigate into the conformity of the Seimas Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” of 15 April 1993 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. The request is based on the following legal reasoning:

  1. The Seimas resolution was passed in violation of Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, as this resolution was not adopted by majority vote of the Seimas members participating in the sitting.
  2. The resolution in its contents contradicts the provision established in Paragraph 4 of Article 123 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania which does not provide for the dissolution of a municipal council. For the purpose of regulating the fundamentals and the procedure of the introduction of direct administration, the Seimas should enact a law or coordinate the law adopted on December 27, 1992 “On Direct Administration on a Municipal Territory” with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. The above-mentioned law was adopted at the time when the Provisional Basic Law was in force on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania.
  3. The Seimas groundlessly relied on Article 28 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government, promulgated on February 12, 1990, as the conclusions of the Commission did not specify which acts of the municipal bodies contradicted the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. Besides, there were no directives on the part of any authorised State bodies to terminate unlawful actions of the City Council.

The representatives of the party concerned, believing that the Seimas resolution is in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, suggested the following explanation to the Constitutional Court:

  1. The Seimas in passing the resolution relied on the Provisional Seimas Statute, which regulates the procedure of the enactment of the Seimas laws and other regulations. In conformity with provisions of the Statute, the number of the Seimas members participating in the sitting shall be established by the registration before voting. During the adoption of Paragraph 1 of 105 Seimas members were registered, among them 53 members voted in favour of it, therefore, this paragraph was adopted in full conformity with the established in the Seimas procedure. The Seimas members who observe evident violation of the Provisional Seimas Statute, did not take into consideration the procedure established in Article 98 of the Statute which provides for the right to demand further investigation of the case within no less than a week.
  2. Article 3 of the Law on the Procedure of the Enforcement of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania establishes that provisions of the laws of the Republic of Lithuania which determine the status of the supreme institutions of State authority and administration of the Republic of Lithuania as well as the status of deputies of municipalities shall be effective until the elected Seimas decides otherwise. In conformity with this Article the conclusion is drawn that the Law on the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government as a whole and its Article 28, taken separately, as well as the Law “On Direct Administration on a Municipal Territory”, is valid. It is established in these laws that the introduction of direct administration on a municipal territory is connected with the dissolution of a particular municipal council. Nevertheless, the petitioner does not appeal to the Court according to the procedure prescribed by law to prove the compliance of these laws with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.
  3. Article 28 of the Law on the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government provides for three legal situations of the dissolution of a municipal council. Each of them, taken separately, can be a ground for the dissolution of a municipal council. The conclusions of the Commission as well as their inseparable certificates contain data enough to prove constant and gross violations of laws committed by the Vilnius City Council and other executive bodies, which disregard the demands of State bodies to terminate unlawful acts. the Vilnius City Council did not exercise control over the activities of executive bodies accountable to it.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

  1. On to the compliance of the adoption procedure of the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” of 15 April 1993 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

Pursuant to Item 4 of Paragraph 1 of Article 64 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Court examines a case concerning the compliance of a legal act with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania only according to the procedure of adoption which has been specified in the Constitution.

Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania establishes the rules of law enactment. Paragraph 2 of Article 69 establishes a universally recognised provision that laws shall be deemed adopted if the majority of the Seimas members participating in the sitting vote in favour thereof. The Constitution also establishes the rules of the Constitutional laws’ enactment and amendment or supplementing by a majority vote of two—thirds of the total number of the deputies. The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania does not provide for other provisions concerning the adoption of laws or other acts of the Seimas. In the adoption of the impugned Seimas resolution the general rule established in Paragraph 2 of Article 69 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania had to be observed.

The Seimas is given the right by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania to establish concrete procedures of law enactment in accordance with law. At present these procedures are determined in the Provisional Statute of the Seimas. The number of Seimas members participating in the sitting is fixed at the beginning of the sitting by way of their registration or, upon the instruction of the Chairman of the Seimas, during the sitting. Subsequent to the evidence, the Constitutional Court has drawn the conclusions that the registration of the Seimas members was conducted immediately before voting on Paragraph 1 of the impugned resolution. The results of the voting showed that Paragraph 1 of the Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” had been adopted by majority vote of all the Seimas members participating in the sitting.

  1. On the compliance of the Seimas Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” of 15 April 1993 with Article 123 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

Article 152 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania prescribes that the procedure for the enforcement of this Constitution and separate provisions thereof shall be regulated by the Law of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Procedure for the Enforcement of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania”, which together with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania was adopted by referendum.

In compliance with Article 3 of this law, provisions of the laws of the Republic of Lithuania which determine the status of the supreme institutions of State authority and administration of the Republic of Lithuania as well as the status of deputies and municipalities shall be effective until the elected Seimas decides otherwise. Therefore, Paragraph 1 of Article 123 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania grants the Seimas the right to introduce direct administration on a municipal territory in cases and according to the procedure provided by law. The said procedure is determined by the Law “On the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government” of 12 February 1990 and the Law “On Direct Administration on a Municipal Territory” of 27 December 1990.

Article 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law “On Direct Administration on a Municipal Territory” establishes that direct administration is introduced on the dissolution of a respective municipal council, on the release from office officials appointed or elected to this post and on the suspension of the validity of the laws on local self-government.

The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania is entitled to the right to apply these laws, to resolve the issue of the dissolution of a municipal council, temporarily introducing direct administration and suspending the laws on local self-government on its territory. This procedure is changed by means of a new law.

The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania while adopting the Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” relied on Article 28 of the Law “On the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government” which provides for the following cases and procedures of the dissolution of a municipal council: if the activity of the municipal bodies contradicts the Basic Law of the Republic of Lithuania; if the municipal bodies grossly violate the laws of the Republic of Lithuania or constitutional rights of citizens, disregarding the demands of the authorised state bodies of the Republic of Lithuania to terminate illegal action. A municipal council shall be dissolved by reasoned decision of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted on the basis of the conclusions presented by the specially formed commission of the deputies of the Seimas.

The Commission formed to investigate the situation in the Vilnius City Council and Board stated in their conclusions and suggestions that the Vilnius City Council does not resolve the issue concerning the economic and strategic infrastructure of the city, does not effectively supervise the activities of the Board, does not have the conception of the city territory supervision for which reason the activities of the Council of People’s Deputies are diminished, does not exercise control over the process of privatisation, constant violations of the directives of the Government concerning the lease of uninhabited lodging can be observed, it rents plots of land on a non-competition basis and the organisation of the privatisation of the plots of land is insufficient. Some officials abusing their official position, have acquired or changed their flats. In the conclusions and suggestions it is specified that the Vilnius City Council and its Board have made violations of the financial discipline in establishing the tariffs of housing maintenance, did not ensure the supply of the citizens with hot water according to fixed timetables as well as other violations established in certificates No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6.

However, the Commission, having enumerated all the above-mentioned violations, did not qualify them according to the provisions prescribed in Paragraph 1 of Article 28 of the Law “On the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government” as well as did not shape the conclusion concerning the dissolution of the Vilnius City Council, presenting the Seimas only two alternative decisions.

The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania in the Resolution “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” did not specify any legal arguments, i.e. the decision does not specify which decisions and regulations of the Vilnius City Council and Municipality contradict the law of the Republic of Lithuania and the constitutional rights of citizens.

The Seimas, having adopted the unreasoned resolution, violated the provision of Paragraph 2 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law “On the Fundamentals of Local Self-Government”, which is based on Article 123 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

Pursuant to Article 102 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania as well as Articles 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:

The Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Dissolution of the Vilnius City Council and Some Measures Necessary to Improve the Activities in Municipalities” of 15 April 1993 contradicts Article 123 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

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

The ruling is pronounced in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:

 Algirdas Gailiūnas                              Kęstutis Lapinskas                            Zigmas Levickis

 Vladas Pavilonis                                Pranas Vytautas Rasimavičius            Stasys Stačiokas

 Teodora Staugaitienė                         Stasys Šedbaras                                Juozas Žilys