Ruling of the Constitutional Court of 26 January 2017 № 203-О on the refusal to admit for consideration the petition of the All-Russian Social Organisation of Disabled Persons – Russian Association of Blind Students and Professionals

Legislation in question: Parts 6 and 11 of Article 45 and part 17 of Article 48 of the Federal law “On the Election of the Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation”

Legal issue: Whether the Association may challenge in the Constitutional Court the decision of the Central Electoral Commission prohibiting the signing of subscription lists by means of digital signature or facsimile.

Ratio decidendi: The Constitutional Court held that the case was inadmissible because the organisation was challenging the constitutionality of the federal law without quoting any facts of violation of its members’ rights, which would have been examined and legally assessed by courts, i.e. it is requesting an abstract judicial review of constitutionality of the federal law. However, by virtue of Article 125 of the Constitution and Article 3 of the Law on the Constitutional Court the petitioner is not listed among the entities entitled to apply to the Constitutional Court in such fashion.

Dissenting opinion:
  • Believes that the Court ought to admit the petition for consideration. The subsidiary character of the constitutional justice does not imply restrictive interpretation of its competence; in view of the exhaustion of the ordinary judicial remedies its competence ought to be interpreted in the manner ensuring the most efficient restoration of violated rights and freedoms of the applicant. Not only the courts of general jurisdiction and commercial courts, but particularly the Constitutional Court itself should minimize strict formalism, so that the constitutional rights might enjoy real and efficient protection.

    The failure of the federal legislator, in spite of the position expressed earlier by the Constitutional Court, within many years to regulate properly the issue of participation in electoral procedures by disabled persons incapable of signing subscription lists with their own hand testifies to the fact that the gap in legal regulation which was indicated earlier by the Constitutional Court has become persistent. This may lead to a massive violation of electoral rights of persons belonging to the respective socially vulnerable class of the population. This circumstance constitutes an additional argument for admitting the petition and its consideration on merits.

  • Disagreed with the refusal to admit the case for consideration. He points out that the decision of the Supreme Court to return the application (an administrative suit) to Association was based on the fact that once before the Supreme Court has already considered and resolved an analogous application by a political party. Consequently, the substantive answer given by the Supreme Court to that party was in fact its answer to the Association as well. Therefore, one may argue that the Association, when filing petition with the Constitutional Court, might base its right to apply to it on the decision of the Supreme Court with regard to another applicant (the political party). It is exactly what the Association has done.

    Besides, it would be good if the federal legislator, without waiting the Constitutional Court’s resolution of the question posed by the applicant, would have provided in the election laws the means enabling blind voters and other incapable persons to have a full-fledged participation in the nomination of candidates.

Subject area:
Public Law judicial review