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On certain articles of the Statute of the Seimas

 THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF
THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

R U L I N G

On the compliance of Articles 9, 93, 96,10 and 101 of Part II of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania

24 February 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

Zita Šličytė, acting as the representative of a group of members of the Seimas, the petitioner

Juozas Bernatonis, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, 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 15 February 1994, considered case No. 9/93 subsequent to the petitions submitted to the Court by a group of members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania requesting an investigation into the compliance of Articles 9, 93, 96,10 and 101 of Part II of the Statute of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania with Articles 66 and 89 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

The Constitutional Court

has established:

On 20 May 1993, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted Part II of the Statute of the Seimas named “Structure of the Seimas” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 1993, No. 17-428). In the first paragraph of Article 9 of this Part it is established: “Sittings of the Seimas shall be presided over by the Speaker of the Seimas or Deputy Speaker of the Seimas. There shall be three Deputy Speakers of the Seimas”. In the second paragraph of Article 93 it is set forth: “The Seimas Board shall consist of the Speaker of the Seimas, three Deputy Speakers and the Chancellor of the Seimas”.

In Article 96 it is determined: “The Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania shall: 4) propose candidates to the posts of Deputy Speakers and the Chancellor of the Seimas to the Seimas”.

In Article 10 it is stipulated: “At the behest of the Speaker of the Seimas, Deputy Speakers shall perform certain functions of the Speaker. The Seimas Board may determine the guidelines of the activities of the Deputy Speakers.

In the event that the Speaker of the Seimas is temporarily absent or has fallen ill and by reason thereof is unable to fulfil his or her duties of office, at the behest of the Seimas, the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas shall be performed by one of the Deputy Speakers for a specified period.

If, in the case specified in Article 89 of the Constitution, the Speaker of the Seimas is temporarily carrying out the duties of the President of the Republic, and as the result thereof has lost his or her powers in the Seimas, the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas shall be temporarily carried out by a Deputy Speaker at the behest of the Seimas.

Resolutions (preliminary or adopted for a particular case) concerning the temporary performance of the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas or substituting the Speaker of the Seimas shall be adopted by the Seimas on the motion of the Seimas Speaker”.

In the first and the second paragraphs of Article 101 it is specified: “The Speaker of the Seimas, or, in the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, may voice his or her opinion or the opinion of the Seimas Board on the issues under consideration out of turn provided that he or she is not presiding over the sitting.

During the session, the Speaker of the Seimas, the Deputy Speakers and the Chancellor of the Seimas shall, at least once a month, answer questions concerning the performance of their duties submitted beforehand by the Seimas members”.

A group of the Seimas members, the petitioner, request that the Constitutional Court recognise that Articles 9, 93, 96,10 and 101 of Part II of the Statute of the Seimas contradict Article 66 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania specifying that: “The Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the Seimas shall preside over sittings of the Seimas”, and the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution which prescribes: “In the event that the President dies, resigns or is removed from office according to impeachment proceedings, or if the Seimas resolves that the President of the Republic is unable to fulfil the duties of office for reasons of health, the duties of the President shall temporarily be passed over to the Seimas Speaker. In such a case, the Speaker of the Seimas shall lose his or her powers in the Seimas, and at the behest of the Seimas, the duties of Speaker shall temporarily be carried out by the Deputy Speaker”.

The petitioner has grounded his request on the fact that three Deputy Speakers are provided for in Articles 9, 93, 96, 10 and 101 of Part II of the Seimas Statute, whereas, Articles 66 and 89 of the Constitution provide for only one Deputy Speaker, therefore, the petitioner requests that the provision that there shall be three Deputy Speakers of the Seimas, specified in Articles 9, 93, 96, 10 and 101 of Part II of the Seimas Statute, be judged to be in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

A petitioner’s representative explained in the court hearing that, conforming to Articles 66 and 89 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Speaker of the Seimas and the Deputy Speaker of the Seimas are two officials of the constitutional rank. In case prescribed by the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution, when the Seimas Speaker loses his or her powers in the Seimas at the behest of the Speaker, the duties of Speaker shall temporarily be carried out by the Deputy Speaker.

During the preliminary investigation of the case and in the court hearing, a representative of the party concerned explained that, in his opinion, Articles 9, 93, 96, 10 and 101 of Part II of the Statute of the Seimas do not contradict the Constitution and submitted the following arguments:

  1. In the first paragraph of Article 66 of the Constitution the procedure of presiding over the sittings of the Seimas is established. It is stipulated in this norm of the Constitution, which two officials shall alternatively preside over sittings of the Seimas. Thus, there is no doubt that one-person principle and not collegiate one of presiding over sittings of the Seimas is prescribed by Article 66 of the Constitution. This Article does not define the number of Deputy Speakers of the Seimas but specifies who shall preside over sittings of the Seimas.
  2. The statement of the petitioner’s representative that the conclusion should be drawn upon the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution that there may be only one Deputy Speaker, is groundless. In said Article of the Constitution not the number of Deputy Speakers is established but the regulation that, in the event that the Speaker of the Seimas shall lose his or her powers in the Seimas in case prescribed by this Article, at the behest of the Seimas, the duties of Speaker shall temporarily be carried out by the Deputy Speaker. This means that, not the number of Deputy Speakers is determined in said Article of the Constitution, but, rather, this Article limits the powers of the Seimas, i.e. it specifies that the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas may temporarily be delegated only to the Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and not to any Seimas member.
  3. The statement of the petitioner’s representative that there must be only one Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, contradicts the logical meaning of the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution, as it is established in this Article that, at the behest of the Seimas, the duties of Speaker shall temporally be carried out by the Deputy Speaker. Such authorisation is necessary only in cases when there are more than one Deputy Speakers. If only one Deputy Speaker were elected, the Seimas, upon his or her election, would resolve the issue who in case the Speaker of the Seimas loses his or her powers in the Seimas, must temporarily perform his or her duties as the Constitution does not provide for another alternative.
  4. The Structure of the Seimas is not determined in the Constitution—neither the Seimas Board, nor Assembly of Spokesmen, nor Committees, nor Commissions, nor political groups are stipulated in it. This does not mean, however, that the formation of said structural derivatives contradict the Constitution. In Article 76 of the Constitution it is emphasised: “The structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas shall be determined by the Statute of the Seimas”. This means that the Constitution has entitled the Seimas to the prerogative to establish such inner structure and procedure of activities that would ensure the possibility of implementing the powers prescribed in the Constitution and provide every Seimas member with conditions to exercise the powers of the representative of the Nation.

The representative of the party concerned has maintained that Articles 9, 93, 96,10 and 101 of Part II of the Seimas Statute do not contradict the Constitution also according to the extent of regulation and form.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

In Article 4 of the Constitution it is prescribed that the Nation shall exercise the supreme sovereign power vested in it either directly or through their democratically elected representatives, and in the first paragraph of Article 5 it is specified: “In Lithuania, the powers of the State shall be exercised by the Seimas, the President of the Republic and Government, and the Judiciary”. The procedure of forming these institutions of power, the term of office, competence and democratic principles of their activities are determined in the Constitution.

The Seimas as an institution of legislation while implementing its powers is independent within the limits prescribed by the Constitution, but it always must ensure permanent implementation of its powers stipulated in the Constitution.

Chapter V “The Seimas” of the Constitution establishes the composition of the Seimas and the procedure of its elections, the term of office, rights and duties of the Seimas members, the Seimas competence, the main procedures of law enactment as well as other prerogatives of the Seimas as an institution of legislation.

The main provisions of the legal status of state powers are set forth in the Constitution, however, the issues of organising their internal activities as well as some other issues concerning their functioning are not resolved there, therefore, the legislature shall adopt laws by which the legal status of state authority institutions is given a concrete expression. The Law on the President of the Republic, the Law on the Government, the Law on the Constitutional Court, the Law on Courts, also the Statute of the Seimas, which has the power of a law, are of the aforementioned kind.

The Constitution does not contain the norms regulating the structure of the Seimas. In Chapter V of the Constitution under the title “The Seimas” even the procedure of the election of the Seimas Speaker is not established, though other powers, along with presiding over the sittings, are vested in him (Articles 70, 71, 89, 103, 140 and 149 of the Constitution).

In Article 76 of the Constitution it is prescribed that the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas shall be determined by the Statute of the Seimas. Thus, the Seimas is entitled to the right to establish its own structure and procedure of activities.

The structure of the Seimas is a system of inner subunits established in the Statute of the Seimas, which must ensure the working capacity and effective functioning of the parliament, i.e. must provide the Seimas with necessary conditions and prerequisites for permanent implementation of its functions prescribed by the Constitution. The governing body of the Seimas is the most significant part in the system of structural units as only its functions are determined in the Constitution.

In the Constitution it is set forth that sittings are the main form of the Seimas activities. In the first paragraph of Article 66 of the Constitution it is stipulated that the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the Seimas shall preside over sittings of the Seimas. Although only two duties of office of the governing body of the Seimas are mentioned in said Article, the contents of this norm has the meaning of organisational function, because said Article only specifies who shall preside over sittings of the Seimas, therefore, the conclusion that, the issues concerning the structure shall be regulated by this norm, i.e. the number of Deputy Speakers shall be established, may not be drawn.

Conforming to the Constitution, the Speaker of the Seimas is an official of the Seimas in whom independent constitutional powers are vested, and Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 66 of the Constitution, may perform only one function, i.e. preside over sittings of the Seimas. The constitutional powers of the Speaker of the Seimas shall be passed to the Deputy Speaker of the Seimas only in the case prescribed by Article 89 of the Constitution, i.e. when he, at the behest of the Seimas, shall temporarily perform the duties of the Speaker of the Seimas.

The interpretation that, in compliance with the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution, there must be only one Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, is groundless. In the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution it is established that, in case when the duties of the President of the Republic shall be temporarily passed over go to the Speaker of the Seimas, the latter shall lose his or her powers in the Seimas, and at the behest of the Seimas, the duties of the Speaker shall temporarily be carried out by the Deputy Speaker. This constitutional provision establishes not the number of Deputy Speakers but the Seimas prerogative at its behest to constitute the delegation of the powers of Speaker of the Seimas to another person—Deputy Speaker of the Seimas. This means that nobody else except the Seimas may change the status of the Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, i.e. to entitle him to the right since concrete date for definite term to temporarily perform constitutional powers of the Seimas Speaker. Such procedure of constituting is grounded on the Seimas’ absolute right to resolve the issues concerning its inner structure and formation of its governing body. The Seimas itself in its Statute determines the procedure of resolving said issues.

Taking the constitutional status of the Seimas as legislative authority into consideration, there must be created such structure and democratic procedure of activities of the Seimas that would enable the representative of the Nation to constructively, effectively and permanently implement the supreme sovereign power of the Nation. Thus, the explanation that the first paragraph of Article 66 of the Constitution provides for only one Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, is also groundless. When in cases prescribed by the first paragraph of Article 89 of the Constitution, the Deputy Speaker temporarily acting for the Speaker of the Seimas falls ill or is unable to fulfil the duties of office for other reasons, this might cause disorder in the activities of the Seimas as there would be no official being capable of legally performing the constitutional function—presiding over sittings of the Seimas. In said event, an election of a temporary Deputy Speaker would become problematic, i.e., as a matter of fact, the activities of the Seimas would be disturbed.

Neither Article 66 nor Article 89 restricts the Seimas in establishing the number of Deputy Speakers of the Seimas. The Seimas, in accordance with Article 76 of the Constitution having established three Deputy Speakers in Articles 9 and 93 of Part II of the Statute of the Seimas, and having used the notion “Deputy Speaker” in Articles 96,10 and 101, only implemented the right to determine the structure and procedure of activities of the Seimas, vested in him by the Constitution.

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 Articles 9, 93, 96,10 and 101 of Part II of the Statute of the Seimas are consistent with 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