NO INVALIDITY UNDER PUBLIC LAW MAY BE ESTABLISHED WITH REGARD TO THE ACT ON THE AMENDMENT OF THE LABOUR CODE AND THE ACT ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURTS30 April 2019
The Constitutional Court rejected the petition submitted by more than a quarter of the MPs on the alleged invalidity under public law of certain Acts adopted on the National Assembly’s sitting day of 12 December, 2018, due to the circumstances of their adoption.
The Members of Parliament claimed that the amended provisions of the Labour Code and of the Act on administrative courts was in conflict with the Fundamental Law because on the relevant day the Speaker of the House and the acting chair had not chaired the sitting from the lectern, neither of the Parliamentary notaries in service had been a member of a group of MPs of the opposition and the voting system had operated in a cardless mode of operation.
The Constitutional Court pointed out: the establishment and the role under public law of the institution of the National Assembly is one of the most important achievements of our historical constitution. The lawful and constitutional operation of the National Assembly is a key to the rule of law and to the constitutional exercising of power in Hungary. Guaranteeing the smooth operation of the National Assembly and safeguarding its dignity is a right and at the same time an obligation of the Speaker of the House.
According to the specialist literature, obstruction is a conduct when, in the Parliament, the political forces in minority exercise in an inappropriate way the options they lawfully possess, for the purpose of achieving their political goals (for example they exercise their right to speak in order to drag the time allocated for the discussion). However, the conducts, which are not formally lawful shall not be considered obstruction. At the same time, they may result in an unlawful situation when restoring proper operation requires immediate action. It is clear from the minutes of the National Assembly’s sitting day of 12 December 2018 that the members of opposition groups of MPs as well as independent MPs physically prevented access to the Speaker’s lectern by blocking the way. Nevertheless, the provisions of the Standing Orders do not prohibit chairing the sitting from a place other than the Speaker’s chair, provided that the chairing of the sitting, otherwise, complies with the rules of procedure as guarantees, as the lectern is fundamentally used for practical purposes.
According to the Act on the National Assembly, two Parliamentary notaries shall serve on the sittings and one of them should preferably be the member of the governing group of MPs while the other one being the member of the opposition group of MPs. In the case under review, on the one hand, the Parliamentary notaries were appointed, without misusing the law, due to compelling reasons, and on the other hand the applicable provisions of the law did not exclude the way they were appointed, therefore the guaranteeing rules have not been violated, thus no invalidity under public law may be declared.
With regard to carrying out the voting in a manner challenged by the petitioners, the Constitutional Court established that, on the one hand, the applicable rules of procedure do not require carrying out the machine voting in the operating mode with cards, and on the other hand, the MPs elected in a democratic way exercise popular sovereignty and they are responsible – among others – for complying with the expectation of personal contribution. This way, it is the responsibility of the MP not to push the button of an equipment that belongs to another MP – allocated either to the his card or his seat –, and such conduct has also become sanctionable by now. According to the authentic minutes of the sitting of the National Assembly, the sitting of 12 December 2018 of the National Assembly had quorum and the number of votes necessary for adopting the three Acts concerned were cast. The additional concerns and options expressed in the petitions regarding the result of the votings were unsuitable for assessment on the merits.
Therefore, the Constitutional Court rejected the petitions aimed at the establishment of the conflict with the Fundamental Law and the annulment of the challenged provisions. Justice dr. Béla Pokol attached a concurring reasoning to the adopted decision.