Lt

On the composition of the Central Electoral Commission

Case No. 13/93

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 Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania” of 23 March 1993 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania

30 June 1994, Vilnius

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed from the 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

Seimas member Andrius Kubilius and Zenonas Juknevičius, acting as the representatives of a group of members of the Seimas

Seimas Deputy Speaker Juozas Bernatonis, acting as the representative 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 the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, in its public hearing, on 28 June 1994, considered case No. 13/93 subsequent to the petition submitted to the Court by a group of the Seimas members requesting an investigation into whether the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania “On the Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania” is in compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania on 23 March 1993 adopted the Resolution “On the Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1993, No. 10-241). Under Item 1 of this resolution, the composition of the Central Electoral Commission was changed, decreasing it by 13 members. Under Item 2, the Seimas obligated the Central Electoral Commission, pursuant to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, to meet the requirement of Article 79 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and announce the final election results in the 20th (Baltijos), 22nd (Pajūrio) and 64th (Šakių) constituencies.

A group of the Seimas members, the petitioner, requests an investigation into whether the Seimas Resolution “On the Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania” of 23 March 1993 is in conformity with Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The petitioner’s request is grounded on the following arguments.

In Item 13 of Article 67 it is established that the Seimas is entitled to the right only to form the Central Electoral Commission and to change its composition. In Article 5 of the Constitution it is set forth that “the scope of the powers of the State shall be defined by the Constitution”, which means that the Seimas does not have the power to obligate the Central Electoral Commission in any way.

On the grounds of these arguments, the petitioner requests the Constitutional Court to recognise that said resolution fails to conform to the provisions of Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution.

In court hearing the petitioner’s representatives emphasised that the Central Electoral Commission is an independent institution, therefore, the Seimas did not have the right to obligate it in any way. The powers of the Seimas are defined in Article 67 of the Constitution, which does not provide for such a right.

The representative of the party concerned explained during the preliminary investigation into the case that the impugned resolution of the Seimas does not contradict the provisions of Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution, and submitted the following arguments.

The petitioner maintains that, under Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution, the Seimas has the right only to form the Central Electoral Commission and change its composition. In the petitioner’s opinion, the Seimas acted in compliance with the Constitution, because Item 1 of the Seimas resolution established the change in the composition of the Central Electoral Commission, decreasing it by 13 members, who had refused to abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas. In the opinion of the representatives of the party concerned, the arguments submitted by the petitioner may be applied only to Item 2 of the impugned resolution of the Seimas, because it established: “to commission the Central Electoral Commission, pursuant to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania, to meet the requirement of Article 79 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas and to announce the final election results in the 20th (Baltijos), 22nd (Pajūrio) and 64th (Šakių) constituencies”. However, in the opinion of the representatives of the party concerned, such commission by the Seimas was predetermined by specific circumstances and the necessity to prevent violations of the Constitution, thus, it did not contradict the constitutional provisions. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania, subsequent to the suits brought by the Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, recognised that the decisions of the Central Electoral Commission to nullify the vote calculation records in some polling districts had been groundless. Meanwhile, the Central Electoral Commission refused to execute court decisions and to announce the final election results in the constituencies, as well as refused to meet the requirements of Article 79 of the Law on Elections to the Seimas.

Under the Seimas resolution of 14 January 1993, the Commission was formed for the investigation into the activity of the Central Electoral Commission. The impugned resolution of the Seimas was adopted in accordance with the conclusions drawn by the Commission. The representative of the party concerned has underlined that the Constitutional Court did not exist at that time, therefore, only the Central Electoral Commission itself could eliminate its rough violations of the Law. In the opinion of the representative of the party concerned, Item 2 of the impugned Act of the Seimas is directly related to the change of the composition of the Central Electoral Commission. Furthermore, the impugned obligation of the Seimas did not give rise to any new legal consequences, because the Central Electoral Commission had to announce the final results only after the Supreme Court decisions.

On the grounds of the above-mentioned arguments, the representative of the party concerned requests the Constitutional Court to recognise that the Seimas Resolution “On the Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania” of 23 March 1993 does not contradict the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

  1. Article 5 of the Constitution prescribes: “The scope of the powers of the State shall be limited by the Constitution”. First of all, it means that the scope of powers of the Seimas, the President of the Republic and the Government, as well as the Court shall be defined by the Constitution itself. The statute of every said institution is regulated in separate chapters of the Constitution, and the main constitutional provisions are particularised in special laws. The statute of the Seimas is defined in Chapter V “The Seimas” of the Constitution, and the structure and procedure of activities is determined in the Statute of the Seimas (Article 76 of the Constitution).

The Central Electoral Commission is an institution formed by the Seimas (Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution), therefore, the Seimas is entitled to the right to supervise the activity of this institution, as far as it conforms to the provisions pertaining to the limitation of the powers of the State institutions. It is primarily based on the provision of the first paragraph of Article 61 of the Constitution, which establishes the right of the Seimas members to submit inquires as a form of parliamentary control. Among said “State institutions formed or elected by the Seimas”, exception is applied only to the courts, because their independence is guaranteed in Articles 109 and 114 of the Constitution. Such independence of the Central Electoral Commission is not set forth in the Constitution.

Secondly, certain possibilities for the Seimas to exercise control are expressed in the right vested in the Seimas to change the composition of the Central Electoral Commission, which is established in Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution. It should be noted that the prerogative of the Seimas to change the composition of the Central Electoral Commission is not defined by any criteria in the Constitution, however, it is limited by appropriate provisions of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, which has been adopted by the Seimas itself.

Finally, Article 107 of the Constitution establishes the right of the Seimas to adopt the final decision only in case of the violation of laws. Such decision of the Seimas must be based on the conclusion of the Constitutional Court. In case of doubts whether laws on elections were not violated during an election of the President of the Republic or an election to the Seimas, under the fifth paragraph of Article 106 of the Constitution, the right to request the Constitutional Court to submit a conclusion is vested in the Seimas, and, as regards an election to the Seimas, also in the President of the Republic of Lithuania.

  1. At the time when the impugned resolution of the Seimas was passed, the Constitutional Court did not function yet, therefore, the mechanism of the investigation into and the settling of the disputes pertaining to the violations of laws on elections could not be applied. Thus, the use was made of judicial control, set forth in the Law on Elections to the Seimas which was in effect at that time, i.e. the opportunity to lodge complaints considering the declaration of an election invalid with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Supreme Court by its decision established the violations of the Law on Elections to the Seimas, made by the Central Electoral Commission in three constituencies and nullified unlawful and groundless resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission. In the reasoning of the court decision it was specified that the Court does not include in the decision thereof the obligation to the Central Electoral Commission to confirm other election results, because it is the Law on Elections to the Seimas which obligates the Central Electoral Commission to confirm correct election results (Articles 75–79). However, on 27 February 1993, the Central Electoral Commission adopted the Resolution “On the Implementation of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania”, and stated therein that, regardless of the decisions passed by the Court, it “does not find any legal basis for changing the 22 November 1992 resolution, which confirms the final results of the election to the Seimas in single-member and multi-member constituencies”. As regards the legal power, a court decision equals to a law, therefore, no one may refuse to abide by a court decision. Under such circumstances, the Seimas formed the parliamentary Commission for the investigation into the activity of the Central Electoral Commission. Conforming to the conclusions submitted by said Commission, the Seimas, on 23 March 1993, adopted the Resolution “On the Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania”. The refusal of the Central Electoral Commission to implement court decisions and the Law on Elections to the Seimas is stated in the preamble to the impugned resolution of the Seimas. The composition of the Central Electoral Commission was changed by Item 1 of said resolution, i.e. in compliance with Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution.

The Seimas did not nullify the resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission and did not adopt new decisions concerning the election results instead. Under Item 2 of the said resolution, the Central Electoral Commission was obligated to fulfil its duty, i.e. to abide by the Supreme Court decisions and the Law on Elections to the Seimas. Actually, said Item 2 did not have any independent and new contents, as it only repeated the obligation of the Central Electoral Commission to meet the requirements prescribed by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, which is specified in the reasoning of the Supreme Court decisions. Therefore, such an obligation may not be regarded as groundless or unfair, because, in this particular case, it was meant for the elimination of violations of the law, as established by the Court. Item 2 of said resolution is not to be considered as the exceeding of the Seimas competence, because, under the norms of the third paragraph of Article 107 of the Constitution, the Seimas shall have a final decision in case of disputes concerning the election results. In the case under dispute, the Seimas acted in compliance with the powers determined in Item 13 of Article 67 of the Constitution.

The Constitutional Court maintains that said decision of the Seimas , adopted under such circumstances when the Supreme Court decisions were ignored and legal means for making act in conformity with these decisions could not be found, should be considered as inevitable measure, as it overcame the disregard of the powers of the judiciary.

Thus, there is no ground for maintaining that the impugned resolution of the Seimas contradicts the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

Conforming 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:

To recognise that the Seimas Resolution “On the Refusal of Some Members of the Central Electoral Commission to Abide by the Law on Elections to the Seimas, upon Nullifying the Unlawful Resolutions of the Central Electoral Commission by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Lithuania” of 23 March 1993 does not contradict 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