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Decision 10/2021. (IV. 7.) AB
Posterior norm control submitted against Section 132 (3a) of the Act XIX of 1998 on Criminal Procedures (lack of the upper limit of the period of pre-trial detention)
The Constitutional Court declared to be in conflict with the Fundamental Law and, with pro futuro effect, annulled Section 298 (2) (a) of the Act XC of 2017 on Criminal Procedure. The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights filed a petition to the Constitutional Court because, in his opinion, the rule of law and the right to liberty and personal security are violated by the challenged regulation, as the Criminal Procedure Act provides an exception to the objective upper limit of pre-trial detention in the case of proceedings for an offence punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment. In his motion, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights explained that the institution of pre-trial detention would remain within the framework of constitutionality as long as it retained its preliminary character in both its function and duration and did not take over the role of imprisonment. The restriction of fundamental rights caused by pre-trial detention must be proportionate to the State’s demand for punishment, but in the absence of an upper limit, the examination of proportionality is conceptually excluded. In its decision, the Constitutional Court found that the time spent in pre-trial detention in the relevant stage of the criminal proceedings (in the absence of a decisive first-instance decision) becomes unconstitutional after exceeding a certain absolute limit (reasonable duration), regardless of the circumstances. The determination of this absolute deadline is the duty of the law-maker, and the Constitutional Court is competent to review the constitutionality of the legislative decision. The Constitutional Court found the challenged regulation to be unconstitutional because, due to its indeterminacy, it also allows for deprivation of liberty to an extent that unconstitutionally restricts the fundamental right of the accused to personal liberty. The Constitutional Court ordered the annulment for the future: 30 September, 2021.