a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 31-03-1999 / e) 4/1999 / f) / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 27/1999 / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Constitutional Justice - Jurisdiction - The subject of review - Parliamentary rules.
Constitutional Justice - Jurisdiction - The subject of review - Failure to act or to pass legislation.
General Principles - Rule of law.
General Principles - Reasonableness.
Institutions - Legislative bodies - Organisation - Rules of procedure.
Institutions - Legislative bodies - Organisation - Sessions.
Institutions - Legislative bodies - Law-making procedure.
Institutions - Legislative bodies - Law-making procedure - Quorum.
Institutions - Legislative bodies - Law-making procedure - Majority required.
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
Parliament, regular sitting / Parliament, extraordinary sitting.
Parliament created an unconstitutional situation by failing to regulate the regular sittings of Parliament in the Standing Orders of the legislature. It is a constitutional obligation of Parliament to ensure its continuous operation. Parliament should ensure that regular sittings follow each other within a reasonable time in order that Parliament can comply with its tasks defined by the Constitution.
On the basis of Article 49 of the Law on the Constitutional Court, the petitioner initiated proceedings before the Court asserting that Parliament had created an unconstitutional situation by failing to guarantee through suitable legislation its own proper working order. According to the petitioner, after reducing the number of regular sittings of Parliament, the constitutional operation of the legislature is not ensured, and this is contrary to the principle of the rule of law enshrined in Article 2 of the Constitution.
The Court found this part of the petition founded and called upon Parliament to meet its legislative obligation by 15 December 1999.
In its reasoning, the Court emphasised that the Standing Orders of Parliament shall contain the fundamental procedural rules concerning the operation and sittings of Parliament. Passing or amending the Standing Orders, however, requires a two-thirds majority of the Members of Parliament present. This is a constitutional guarantee, the essence of which is the consensus of the parliamentary parties.
In the current case, the Court held that the Standing Orders do not contain the above-mentioned fundamental procedural rules, and several possible interpretations of the rules concerning the regular sittings of Parliament exist. Hence, the Standing Orders, in their current form, are unpredictable and are not in conformity with the constitutional principle of legal certainty.
The Court, in the instant case, also emphasised that answering the question of how frequently Parliament should sit on a regular basis falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court. It is for Parliament to decide the frequency of these sittings, but regular sittings should follow each other within a reasonable time. In the opinion of the Court, the term of the breaks between the regular sittings is reasonable only if the number of the sittings guarantee that Parliament can comply with its tasks defined by the Constitution.
In the petitioner's view, it is also unconstitutional that the Standing Orders do not contain guarantees about convening an extraordinary sitting during the regular session. The Court rejected this part of the petition saying that under Article 22.3 of the Constitution, an extraordinary sitting of the Parliament shall be convened upon written request by the President of the Republic, the Government or one-fifth of the Members of Parliament. In the case of such a request the Speaker of Parliament shall convene Parliament even during the period of the regular parliamentary sessions.