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2020. March 3.

Decision 3049/2020 on practice of religion

Decision number: Decision 3049/2020. (III. 2.)
Subject of the case:

Constitutional complaint against the judgement No. 23.Szk.11.933/2018/5 of the Miskolc District Court (breach of peace, practice of religion)

The Constitutional Court rejected the constitutional complaint aimed at establishing the conflict with the Fundamental Law and annulling the court decision delivered in the subject matter of the breach of peace. In the complained case, the authority of first instance had imposed a fine against the petitioner because of the breach of peace, and the petitioner raised an objection against it, as he considered that his right to freely exercising religion had been injured. In its ruling, the court judging upon the objection maintained the force of the decision of administrative infraction, against which the petitioner filed a constitutional complaint. The court found in the ruling that in the particular case, the petitioner’s right to freely exercise religion had collided with other people’s right to have a rest. The court emphasized: the petitioner is entitled to freely exercise religion, however, it should not result in violating the fundamental rights of others; thus, this case is not about anyone hindering the investigated person in carrying out religious acts: it is about the requirement of carrying out such activities with a loudness that does not disturb others. In the review, the Constitutional Court sought an answer to the question whether or not the petitioner’s right to freely exercise religion had been injured by the judicial decision, which had evaluated the petitioner’s excessively loud praying as unjustified boisterousness and imposed a fine. The Constitutional Court established that carrying out a religious rite aloud (as a part of expressing one’s religious conviction) is under the fundamental rights protection of the freedom of religion. At the same time, it should also be examined, by taking into account the circumstances (the place of carrying out the activity, which is, in the particular case, a condominium, its time and duration, the regularity of the activity, the extent and the manner of disturbance, the social customs), whether the exercising of this activity loudly could be regarded as proportionate. The Constitutional Court holds that the peace and the rest of others may legitimately restrict the decision on how to pray – as a part of expressing one’s religious conviction –, but this shall always require an individual assessment. The Constitutional Court also acknowledged that in certain cases the loudness itself may be a part of the sacral rite, however, in such cases, the courts should also take into account the Hungarian customs and traditions of civilisation. In solving the collision, one should also consider to what extent the religious conviction might be finally violated due to the restriction. According to the review carried out by the Constitutional Court, no wrong assessment by the court decision, challenged by the constitutional complaint, can be found regarding the collision of the competing interest, therefore, Constitutional Court rejected the constitutional complaint.