2005/01/25 - III. ÚS 252/04: Constitutionally Conforming Interpretation

25 January 2005

HEADNOTES

The

Constitutional Court recalls and reiterates that the tenor of its

Judgment No. II. ÚS 405/02 rests on the respect for the constitutional

principle of equality, that is, the exclusion of unjustified inequality,

in the given case, between citizens of the Czech Republic.  In a case

in which a special incorporation clause, contained in § 61 of Act No.

155/1995 Sb., establishes the priority of a treaty over domestic law,

where the application of law is governed by the interpretive principle,

lex specialis derogat legi generali, as the Constitutional Court is not

endowed with competence to review the constitutionality of ratified

international agreements, this interpretive principle that specific

rules take precedence over general rules must yield to the

constitutional principle affecting the application and interpretation of

the relevant ordinary law, that is, the principle of constitutionally

conforming interpretation and application.  In the matter under

consideration, this constitutional principle is the fundamental right

flowing from the constitutional principle of the equality of citizens

and excluding any unjustified legal distinctions drawn between them.

To the extent that the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment

failed to reflect the constitutional interpretation set out in a

Constitutional Court judgment, it violated the maxim arising from the

sense and purpose of an effective and meaningful concentrated

(specialized) constitutional judiciary, having a considerable function

in unifying the jurisprudence in the area of constitutionally protected

guarantees (the Constitutional Court itself may depart from a

proposition of law declared in one of its judgments solely by means of

the procedure initiated pursuant to § 23 of Act No. 182/1993 Sb), the

maxim flowing from Art. 89 para. 2 of the Constitution, according to

which enforceable decisions of the Constitutional Court are binding on

all authorities and persons.  The failure on the part of a public

authority to respect the proposition of law announced by the

Constitutional Court amounts, in addition, to a violation of the

principle of equality, and also offends against citizens’ legal

certainty (judgments Nos. II. ÚS 76/95, I. ÚS 70/96, III. ÚS 127/96,

III. ÚS 187/98, III. ÚS 206/98, III. ÚS 648/2000 and others).  The

stated admonition is also relevant for the position of the secondary

party.  From Art. 89 para. 2 also flows the maxim that arbitrary

interpretations of Constitutional Court judgments are prohibited.  This

maxim applies fully to the legal opinion of the Czech Administration of

Social Security contained in its pleading on the matter at issue and

relating to the relevance and legal content of Constitutional Court

Judgment No. II. ÚS 405/02.



CZECH REPUBLIC

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

JUDGMENT


IN THE NAME OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC

 


On

25 January 2005, the Constitutional Court, in a panel composed of its

chairperson, JUDr. Jiří Mucha, and Justices, JUDr. Pavel Holländer and

JUDr. Jan Musil, in the matter of the constitutional complaint of A. W. .

. . against the 19 February 2004 judgment of the Supreme Administrative

Court, case no. 3 Ads 2/2003-60, rejecting on the merits the

cassational complaint in the matter of the petition seeking the

recognition of an „equalization adjustment“ in the context of social

security, has decided, as follows:
 

The 19 February 2004 judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court, case no. 3 Ads 2/2003-60, is hereby quashed.

 


REASONING


I.

 


In

a timely submitted constitutional complaint which contained no defects

in respect of the other statutorily prescribed formal requirements, the

complainant sought the annulment of the 19 February 2004 judgment of the

Supreme Administrative Court, file no. 3 Ads 2/2003-60.
 

From

the content of the file designated by the ordinary court as file no. 3

Ads 2/2003, as well as from the constitutional complaint, the following

was ascertained:
 

In the

above-mentioned judgment, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected on

the merits the complainant’s cassational complaint against the 21

November 2001 judgment of the High Court in Olomouc, case no. 2 Cao

140/2001-38, which had, in her appeal, affirmed the 3 April 2001

judgment of the Regional Court in Ostrava, case no. 38 Ca 97/2000-24,

which, in the complainant’s remedial action against the 10 April 2000

decision by the Czech Social Security Administration, No. 435 729 154,

upheld that decision.  That latter decision had turned down the

complainant’s request to be granted an „equalizing adjustment“,

amounting to the difference between the old-age pension to which she

would be entitled under the law of the Czech Republic, the state of

which she is a citizen and where she has permanent residence, and the

old-age pension paid by the Slovak Social Insurance Company pursuant to

the Treaty on Social Security concluded between the Czech Republic and

the Slovak Republic (published as No. 228/1993 Sb., hereinafter the

„Treaty“).
 

In the reasoning

of its judgment, the Supreme Administrative Court stated that, with

reference to Art. 20 of the Treaty, the cassational complaint could not

be granted, for that article provides that the pension time earned prior

to the dissolution of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic is

considered as pension time of that state party on whose territory the

employer had its headquarters on the day of the dissolution of the Czech

and Slovak Federative Republic or most recently prior to that day.  On

the basis of this construction of the legal rule, in conjunction with

Art. 11 paras. 1, 2 of the Treaty, the party to the proceeding noted

that in the given case, the fact that the state (Czech Republic)

concluded an agreement on social insurance with another state is not to

the detriment of the complainant‘s pension claims and does not curtail

her statutory rights under Czech law.  It stated that the complainant

thus acquired, in the sense of Art. 20 of the Treaty, insurance time in

its entirety in the Slovak Republic and her claim to pension thus arose

in the Slovak Republic, taking into account the insurance periods

acquired in that state.  As regards, then, the complainant‘s request for

an “equalizing adjustment“, she could not be granted one, as there is

no basis, either in statute or in the international agreement, to accord

her one.  In connection therewith, the Supreme Administrative Court

also did not credit the complainant’s objection, according to which she

acquired the insurance periods in the common state, that is, first the

unitary and subsequently federal republic.
 

In

her constitutional complaint, the complainant emphasized that, in the

years 1957-1992, her old-age pension had been insured in accordance with

laws falling within the competence of the Czechoslovak Republic (from

1960 the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, then the Czech and Slovak

Federal Republic), and not on the basis of the national laws of the

Czech or the Slovak republics, in which she accumulated only five years

of insurance coverage.  She objects that she did not pay contributions

to any Slovak old-age pension fund towards her future „Slovak pension“,

rather she made payments into the budget of the unitary, and

subsequently the federal, state.  Had it not been for the Treaty, she

would have become entitled to an old-age pension under the laws of the

Czech Republic on 29 July 1999, when she reached the prescribed pension

age (Act No. 155/1995 Sb., on Old-Age Pension Insurance).  In this way,

the Treaty works to her detriment in relation to pension claims and

curtails her legal rights under Czech law.  She considers the criteria

chosen in Art. 20 of the Treaty to be absurd.
 

The

complainant agrees that the „equalization adjustment“ is not some

special benefit of the old-age pension system.  In her view, however,

the recognition of it follows from a consistent application of the

principle that citizens should not be harmed by the conclusion of

treaties on social matters.  She is of the view that she must be ensured

at least such level of pension as that to which, but for the Treaty,

she would have been entitled under the laws of the State in which since

1997 she has held permanent residence, for she has fulfilled all the

conditions laid down in the Czech Republic for the claim to a pension

that is higher than that for which she qualified in the Slovak Republic.
 

The

complainant concluded the detailed and particularized objections by

stating that the Supreme Administrative Court thus denied her the right,

guaranteed by domestic law enactments, to old-age security, which,

according to the Act on Old-Age Pensions, must be commensurate only to

the acquired periods of employment (insurance) and actually acquired

income, but may not be reduced due to the fact that the Czech Republic

concluded a social agreement with another state.  She is of the view

that the mentioned approach resulted in a violation of the principle of

legal certainty, also in discrimination against her and in unequal

treatment in comparison with other citizens, for she was demonstrably

employed in the former Czechoslovakia and, under its laws, she was

justified in expecting that the claims, resulting from this fact, for

future old-age security was guaranteed to her by the state in which she

permanently resided and which is a successor to „Czechoslovakia“.  In

substance she objects to a violation of the constitutional guarantees

flowing from Art. 1 para. 1 of the Constitution of the Czech Republic

(hereinafter „Constitution“) and from Art. 1, Art. 3 para. 1, and Art.

30 para. 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms

(hereinafter „Charter“).  In support of her arguments, she refers also

to the conclusions explicated in Constitutional Court judgment no. II.

ÚS 405/02.
 

At the

Constitutional Court’s request, pursuant to § 42 para. 4 and § 76 par. 2

of Act No. 182/1993 Sb., as amended, on 8 June 2004 the Supreme

Administrative Court in Brno expressed its views on the constitutional

complaint at issue, in which the panel chairwoman recapitulated the

conclusions stated in the contested decision, which she considers fair

and correct.  In her statement of views, meanwhile, the panel

chairperson in no way reacted to the reference to Constitutional Court

judgment II. ÚS 405/02.  She is convinced that the decision issued by

the Supreme Administrative Court was not in conflict with the

fundamental rights of the law-based state and proposed that the

Constitutional Court reject the constitutional complaint on the merits.
 

At

the Constitutional Court’s request, pursuant to § 42 para. 4 and § 76

par. 2 of Act No. 182/1993 Sb., as amended, on 7 January 2005 the Czech

Social Security Administration also submitted its views on the

constitutional complaint.  It stated that the Treaty at issue is a

treaty under Art. 10 of the Constitution and that, by the Czech

Republic’s accession to the European Community, the mutual relations

between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic are governed by a

basic enactment on the coordination of the systems of social security,

which is Council Regulation (EEC) 1408/71, while Art. 20 of the Treaty

was incorporated into Annex III of the Regulation and is a part of the

Treaty on the Accession to the European Community.  The secondary party

further states that the Regulation takes precedence not only over

national statutes but also over international agreements (Art. 6) with

the exception of the provisions of agreements which are expressly listed

in Annex III to Regulation (EEC) 1408/71.  It further makes reference

to unspecified decisions of the European Court of Justice, according to

which provisions of treaties in the mentioned Annex take precedence over

provisions of the Regulation, from which it inferred that Art. 20 of

the Treaty must thus be applied when deciding on pensions in cases to

which it applies.  If Art. 50 of the Regulation contains the institute

of equalization, then, according to the legal opinion expressed in the

statement of views of the Czech Social Security Administration, it does

not apply to this case:  „According to the European Court of Justice

this Article must be interpreted such the overall amount of the pension

drawn by persons in their state of residence may not be lower than the

minimum amount of pension provided for in these legal enactment“, while

„to equalize the sum of the Czech and Slovak pension paid out to persons

with residence in the Czech Republic with the theoretical amount to

which he would be entitled if all periods of insurance were assessed in

accordance with Czech legal enactments, that would be in conflict with

the conclusions of the European Court of Justice“
 

In

terms of constitutional law, the secondary party refers to Art. 41 in

conjunction with Art. 30 para. 1 of the Charter and observes that

Constitutional Court judgment no. II. ÚS 405/02 „relates to the

resolution of a specific pension matter and does not contain a

comprehensive proposition of law, as to how to proceed when applying the

Convention in other cases.“
 

On

the basis of the mentioned grounds, the secondary parties expressed in

their statement of views its conviction that the Supreme Administrative

Court had not erred when decided on the matter at hand.
 

Under

§ 44 para. 2 of Act No. 182/1993 Sb., as amended, the Constitutional

Court may, with the consent of the parties, dispense with an oral

hearing, if no further clarification of the matter can be expected

therefrom.  Both parties, namely, the complainant in her 20 December

2004 submission and the party to the proceeding in its 23 December 2004

memorandum consented to dispensing with an oral hearing.  Despite an

explicit request from the Constitutional Court (file for case no. III.

ÚS 252/04, no. l. 12), the secondary party did not give its views on

dispensing with an oral hearing (§ 63 of Act No. 182/1993 Sb. in

conjunction with § 101 para. 4 of the Civil Procedure Code).  In view of

the explicit, as well the presumed, consent to dispensing with an oral

hearing, also in view of the fact that the Constitutional Court is of

the view that further clarification of the matter cannot be expected

from a hearing, the oral hearing was dispensed with in this matter.
 


II.
 

The

Constitutional Court is not at the summit of the system of ordinary

courts and, in principle, is not empowered, without more, to intervene

into those courts‘ decision-making, neither to interpret legal

enactments, which as a rule falls entirely and above-all primarily

within their exclusive jurisdiction.  This maxim gives way only in the

case that those courts have overstepped the bounds of the framework of

the constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights [Art. 83, Art. 87

para. 1, lit. d) of the Constitution], to the extent that it would be to

the complainant’s detriment, through even an extreme interpretation

that does not conform to the legal order as a meaningful unit, thus

discordant with the safeguards flowing from the Fifth Chapter of the

Charter.
 

It is not the main

mission of the Constitutional Court to interpret legal enactments in the

area of public administration, rather ex constitutione to protect the

rights and freedoms guaranteed in the constitutional order.  In contrast

thereto, as far as concerns the interpretation of ordinary law, it is

precisely the Supreme Administrative Court which is the body competent

to unify the case-law of administrative courts, for which purpose a

mechanism is prescribed in § 12 of the Administrative Court Procedure

Code (hereinafter „ACPC“), alternatively in § 17 and following of the

ACPC.  Naturally, in exercising this jurisdiction, this public authority

is also obliged, first and foremost, to interpret the particular

provisions of ordinary law always in light of the purpose and

significance of the protection of constitutionally guaranteed

fundamental rights and basic freedoms (compare judgments nos. III. ÚS

139/98, III. ÚS 257/98, I. ÚS 315/99, II. ÚS 369/01, II. ÚS 523/02, III.

ÚS 26/03, and others).  Expressed in other terms, by this means it is

not in any sense released from the imperative flowing from Art. 4 of the

Constitution, as the protection of constitutionalism in a democratic,

law-based state is not, and cannot be, solely the duty of the

Constitutional Court, rather it must be the duty of the entire

judiciary.  In this context, it is within the constitutional judiciary’s

possibilities to stress the most important issues, alternatively to

rectify the most extreme excesses.
 

In

terms of the ordinary law that applies to the matter at hand and that

is relevant for its constitutional assessment, it was necessary to

consider the issue whether or not the Supreme Administrative Court, by

concurring with the application to this case of Art. 11 paras. 1, 2 in

conjunction with Art. 20 of the Treaty between the Czech Republic and

the Slovak Republic on Social Security, encroached upon the

complainant’s rights protected by the constitutional order.  The

Constitutional Court has established such unjustified encroachment upon

the complainant’s fundamental rights did occur, which conclusion is in

no respect modified by the consequences flowing for ordinary courts from

Art. 95 para. 1 of the Constitution.
 

As

early as its judgment, no. Pl. ÚS 31/94, the Constitutional Court

declared its acceptance of the internationally recognized principle that

the ratification of international agreements does not affect the more

favorable rights, protections, and conditions that are provided for

under, and guaranteed by, the domestic legislation.
 

Further,

in its judgment no. II. ÚS 405/02 (published in The Constitutional

Court of the Czech Republic:  Collection of Decisions and Rulings –

Volume 30, Issue 1, Prague, C. H. Beck 2003), the Constitutional Court

declared the following, within the ambit of the supporting grounds of

decision generally applicable to the issue before it:  „The Czech and

Slovak Republics came into being on 1 January 1993 with the dissolution

of the common Czechoslovak state.  That common state had a unitary

system of old-age pensions so that, according to the law then in effect,

it was entirely irrelevant in which part of the Czechoslovak state the

citizen was employed, or where the employer had its headquarters.  Art. 1

of Constitutional Act of the Czech National Council, No. 4/1993 Coll.,

on Measures connected with the Dissolution of the Czech and Slovak

Federal Republic, effected the reception of the legal order of the Czech

and Slovak Federal Republic (hereinafter „CSFR“) into Czech law in such

a way that constitutional acts, statutes and other legal enactments of

the CSFR valid and in effect in the Czech Republic on the day the CSFR

was dissolved remained in effect.  Thus, the Czech Republic accepted, on

the constitutional plane, the principle of the continuity of the legal

order.  The mentioned constitutional act of the Czech National Council

forms a part of the constitutional order of the Czech Republic, in the

sense of Art. 112 para. 1 of the Constitution.  Therefore, the period of

employment for an employer with its headquarters in the Slovak part of

the Czechoslovak state cannot be deemed ‚employment abroad‘.  In light

of the above-stated reasons, the Constitutional Court considers

discriminatory, as not resting on ‚objective‘ and ‚reasonable‘ grounds,

such a distinction between citizens of the Czech Republic which is based

on the fiction according to which employment in the Slovak Republic of

the then common Czechoslovak state (or the employer’s headquarters) is

deemed ‚employment abroad‘.“
 

At

the same time, the Constitutional Court also made reference in this

judgment to the fact that „the bilateral social security convention with

the Slovak Republic intrudes upon legal relations which arose and

continued in being during the existence of the previous common state, at

a time when Czechoslovak law, which was subsequently received into

Czech law, was still in effect.“  It emphasized that „the Czech

Republic’s international obligations towards the Slovak Republic, the

effects of which extend back into the past and into the legal relations

of their citizens, which arose and developed within Czechoslovakia and

the Czechoslovak legal order, must respect certain constitutional

limits.“
 

In this context and

in view of the case it was then adjudicating, it accented the fact

that, „while the common Czechoslovak state was still in existence, the

complainant fulfilled the condition of a minimal number of years of

insurance coverage required by § 31 para. 1 of Act No. 155/1995 Coll.“

and added that „the application of an international treaty on the basis

of § 61 of the same statute cannot lead to the situation where the

fulfillment of these conditions is retroactively negated.  That would

conflict with the principle of legal certainty and of the foreseeability

of law, which form the very foundations of the concept of the law-based

state.“
 

Without the

Constitutional Court in any way anticipating whether, as far as the

merits of the matter are concerned, the complainant fulfills all

requirements to qualify for an old-age pension under Czech legal

enactments, the above-explicated conclusions also apply analogously to

the full extent to the presently adjudicated case.
 

The

Constitutional Court merely recalls and reiterates that the tenor of

its judgment no. II. ÚS 405/02 rests on respect for the constitutional

principle of equality, that is, the exclusion of unjustified inequality,

in the given case among citizens of the Czech Republic. In a case in

which a special incorporation clause, contained in § 61 of Act No.

155/1995 Coll., establishes the priority of a treaty over domestic law,

where the application of law is governed by the interpretive principle,

lex specialis derogat legi generali, since the Constitutional Court is

not endowed with competence to review the constitutionality of ratified

international agreements, this interpretive principle that specific

rules take precedence over general ones must yield to the constitutional

principle affecting the application and interpretation of the relevant

ordinary law, that is, the principle that such law be interpreted and

applied in a constitutionally conforming manner.  In the matter under

consideration, the constitutional requirement at issue is the

fundamental right flowing from the constitutional principle of the

equality of citizens and the exclusion any unjustified legal

distinctions drawn between them.
 

To

the extent that the Supreme Administrative Court failed in its judgment

to reflect the constitutional interpretation set out in a

Constitutional Court judgment, it violated the maxim arising from the

sense and purpose of an effective and meaningful concentrated

(specialized) constitutional judiciary, which has a considerable

function in unifying the jurisprudence in the area of constitutionally

protected guarantees (the Constitutional Court itself may depart from a

proposition of law declared in one of its judgments solely by means of

the procedure initiated pursuant to § 23 of Act No. 182/1993 Sb), the

maxim flowing from Art. 89 para. 2 of the Constitution, according to

which enforceable decisions of the Constitutional Court are binding on

all authorities and persons.  The failure on the part of a public

authority to respect the proposition of law announced by the

Constitutional Court in one of its judgments amounts, in addition, to a

violation of the principle of equality, and also offends against

citizens’ legal certainty (judgments Nos. II. ÚS 76/95, I. ÚS 70/96,

III. ÚS 127/96, III. ÚS 187/98, III. ÚS 206/98, III. ÚS 648/2000 and

others).  The stated admonition is also relevant for the position of the

secondary party.  From Art. 89 para. 2 of the Constitution also flows

the maxim that arbitrary interpretations of Constitutional Court

judgments are prohibited.  This maxim applies fully to the legal opinion

of the Czech Social Security Administration contained in its pleading

on the matter at issue and relating to the relevance and legal content

of Constitutional Court Judgment No. II. ÚS 405/02.
 

As

a general matter, it can be stated of the binding nature of judicial

case-law that a previously made interpretation should be the starting

point for decision-making in subsequent cases of the same type, unless

in a later case the deciding court finds sufficiently relevant reasons

grounded on rational and persuasive arguments which in their totality

more nearly conform to the legal order as a meaningful whole and thus

speak for a change in the case-law.  This requirement results from the

postulate of legal certainty, predictability of the law, the protection

of justified reliance on the law (of legitimate expectations), and the

principle of formal justice (equality).
 

Among

the attributes of a law-based state is ranked the principle of legal

certainty and the further principle flowing therefrom of the protection

of justified reliance on law, which as an attribute and precondition of

the law-based state in itself implies above all the effective protection

of rights of all legal subjects in like cases in the same manner and

predictability in the way the state and its organs proceeds.
 

It

does not follow from the postulate of justified reliance in a given

legal order and in the fact that public authorities will take an

identical approach to factually and legally identical cases, where the

subjects of rights hold the legitimate expectation that they will not be

disappointed in their reliance, that the interpretation and application

of law must be absolutely immutable, rather that, in respect of the

specific circumstances of a case, such as objective development of

societal conditions affecting the given factual situation (file no. IV.

ÚS 200/96), any such change be foreseeable or, should it not be

foreseeable at the time it is accomplished, that the change in

interpretation be transparently substantiated and rest upon acceptable

rational and objective grounds which naturally must also be responsive

to the legal conclusion in the previous decisional practice regarding

the asserted legal issue in question (file no. III. ÚS 470/97).  Solely a

thought process that is transparently explicated in this way,

warranting an independent court or judge in electing a divergent

approach, excludes arbitrariness in the application of law, within the

limits of the humanly possible.
 

However,

the Supreme Administrative Court judgment contested in the

constitutional complaint lacks any sort of constitutional argumentation,

much less one that could at least persuasively compete with the

generally applicable thesis explicated in judgment no. II. ÚS 405/02. 

In this context, the Constitutional Court adds that it had not

overlooked the proposition of law explicated in the 6 November 2003

judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court, no. Ads 15/2003-39

(published as no. 230 in the Collection of Decisions of the Supreme

Administrative Court, No. 6/2004).  In this decision, the Court

distinguished the cases on the grounds that the facts in Constitutional

Court judgment no. II. ÚS 405/02 concerned „a claim to early retirement

pension, which does not exist in Slovak law“.  Lastly, it must be noted

that not even in this judgment did the Supreme Administrative Court

respect the ratio decidendi , that is, explicated and applied supporting

legal rule (grounds of decision) upon which the statement of judgment

rested in the case in question.
 

To

the extent that the secondary party advances an argument, in its

statement of views, in reference to Council Regulation (EEC) 1408/71,

such reference can only be designated as inapposite and inappropriate. 

Pursuant to Art. 7 para. 2, lit. c) of the Regulation, as amended and

supplemented, „this Regulation does not affect the obligations resulting

from the provisions of the social security conventions listed in Annex

II” (not Annex III, which corresponds to the already amended version). 

It follows from the mentioned provisions that the relevant European law

does not affect the problems associated with the evaluation of claims to

social security of citizens of the Czech Republic whose employer, prior

to 31 December 1992, had its headquarters in the Slovak Republic, then a

part of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic.  This conclusion

results without more from Art. 2 of the Regulation, which defines the

class of persons to whom the Regulation relates.
 

Finally

and merely as an obiter dictum in relation to the complainant’s case,

the Constitutional Court considers it appropriate to state that to the

extent that a citizen fulfills all statutory conditions for the right to

a pension to come into being, even without the existence of the Treaty,

and that right would be higher than the right pursuant to the Treaty,

it is up to the carrier of Czech pension insurance to ensure that a

pensioner draws a payment in an amount corresponding to the higher claim

pursuant to the domestic laws and to decide that the amount of pension

drawn from the other party to the Treaty be brought up to the level of

pension claimable pursuant to Czech laws.  At the same time it will bear

in mind the amount of pension drawn in conformity with the Treaty from

the other party to the Treaty such that it does not result in

duplicitous drawing of two pensions of the same type granted for the

same reasons from two different insurance carriers (similarly see the 5

September 1997 judgment of the High Court in Prague, file no. 3 Cao

12/96, published in Law and Employment [Právo a zaměstnání] No.

7-8/1998, Supplement, pp. III-VI).  This approach to the problem

corresponds to the general conception of justice that results from the

substantive conception of the law-based state.
 

On

a general plane in the context of the matter before it, the

Constitutional Court draws attention to two further circumstances.
In

assessing applications for the conferral of Czech citizenship, it is

the duty of the competent state body – the Ministry of the Interior – to

ascertain any possible economic grounds motivating that application,

and „the conferral of citizenship at the request of a citizen of a

foreign state is an expression of unrestrained state sovereignty, it

takes place in a sphere of absolute discretion“ (the 29 December 1997

ruling of the High Court in Prague, case no. 6 A 77/99).
 

If

Act No. 155/1995 Coll., as amended, allows for the assertion of claims

arising under its terms without regard to citizenship, that is, linked

to permanent residence, then from the perspective of constitutional law

protection, the Constitutional Court considers as untenable inequality

linked solely with a distinction between citizens of the Czech Republic

in their social security claims not, however, in connection with further

classes of natural persons.
 

For

the above-stated reasons, that is, in view of the violation of Art. 1

para. 1 and Art. 89 para. 2 of the Constitution, and of Art. 1 and Art. 3

para. 1, in conjunction with Art. 30 para. 1, as well as Art. 36 para.

1, of the Charter, the Constitutional Court has quashed the 19 February

2004 judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court, case no. 3 Ads

2/2003-60 [§ 82 para. 1, para. 2 lit. a), and para. 3 lit. a) of Act No.

182/1993 Sb., as amended].

Notice: Decisions of the Constitutional Court cannot be appealed.

Brno, 25 January 2005