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2022. February 4.

Decision 3048/2022. (II. 4.) AB on rejecting a constitutional complaint

Decision number: IV/00936/2021
Subject of the case:

Constitutional complaint aimed at establishing the lack of conformity with the Fundamental Law and annulling the ruling No. 12.Szk.14.366/2020/4 of the Central District Court of Pest (violation of road traffic regulations at a car-gathering)

The Constitutional Court rejected the constitutional complaint aimed at establishing the lack of conformity with the Fundamental Law and annulling the challenged ruling of the Central District Court of Pest in the subject matter of an offence at a motorist assembly. In the case underlying the proceedings, the petitioner took part in a pre-announced motoring protest in May 2020, during the general ban on assemblies ordered with account to the state of danger, during which he drove a few laps around the roundabout announced as the place of the assembly, in compliance with the epidemiological regulations, staying in his car with a banner expressing his demand, while honking his horn in protest against the crisis management measures. The police officers applied measures against the participants of the assembly and then the offence authority imposed a fine on the petitioner. The petitioner lodged an objection against the decision of the offence authority, following which the Central District Court of Pest, in the order challenged in the constitutional complaint, changed the infringement decision, dispensed with the fine and warned the petitioner. According to the position stated in the petitioner’s constitutional complaint, the court’s finding that the petitioner had committed a traffic offence by honking his horn with the intention of expressing his opinion violated his right to peaceful assembly and his right to the freedom of expression. In its decision, the Constitutional Court found that the petitioner’s conduct at the time of the general ban on assembly was expressed as a participant joining an assembly, staying at the venue of an assembly held in a manner contrary to the Act on Assembly, and therefore, in the case under examination, it did not enjoy the protection of the fundamental right to the freedom of expression, and did not constitute a non-verbal expression of opinion that could have been placed, in the case concerned, under the scope of constitutional protection of the relevant fundamental right. The Constitutional Court could not grant fundamental rights protection in the case of a conduct (sounding the horn), which constituted an offence against traffic law, committed in a state of danger, during a general ban on assembly imposed by law, at an assembly organised without prior notice, in violation of the Act on Assembly, the organisers of which committed an offence of misuse of the right of assembly. The plenary session of the Constitutional Court, therefore, rejected the constitutional complaint. Justices Ágnes Czine and Balázs Schanda attached dissenting opinions to the decision. Justices László Salamon, Ildikó Marosi, Zoltán Márki and Marcell Szabó attached concurring reasonings.