a) Armenia / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 02-04-2014 / e) / f) On the conformity with the Constitution of the provisions of Law on Cumulative Pensions / g) Tegekagir (Official Gazette) / h) .
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to property. (Right to property, social protection, social security, limitations )
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to social security.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to unemployment benefits.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to a pension.
A sovereign, democratic, and social state governed by the rule of law shall ensure prerequisites for the common well-being and civil solidarity of the present workforce, as well as for the different generations. Social security is a citizen’s right as well as a purposeful function conditioned by the positive obligation of the state, as it is aimed to guarantee the life of those strata of society who cannot do so.
I. The applicants challenged several provisions of the Law on Cumulative Pensions, contending that they contradict the right to property, as the compulsory cumulative payment is not a public interest. Any limitation to the right to property performed beyond the grounds stipulated by the Constitution, they argue, cannot be legal. The applicants also noted that the regulation stipulating the scope of the persons paying compulsory cumulative payment is unconstitutional and contradicts the idea of a social state.
II. After reviewing the applicants’ arguments and the respective regulations in this case, the Constitutional Court reaffirmed the legal approaches presented in its prior decisions concerning the right to property. The Court emphasised that the Constitution recognises and protects the right to property, from which the appropriate public-legal obligation of state emanates. The Court stated the prerequisite of that obligation is that everyone has a right to possess, use, dispose and bequeath his or her property at his or her discretion. That right cannot be limited by law.
In light of the disputed regulations, the Court established that some of them stipulate limitations inconsistent with Article 31 of the Constitution and inconsistent with the legal approaches of the Constitutional Court. The Court also held that the Constitution endowed the government with the authority to exclusively govern state property. Governance of the property of individuals and self-government bodies, however, cannot be included in that authority by law.
The Court also underscored that the Constitution declares the right to social security. One of the features of the right is that the size and forms of social security are stipulated by law and fall within the ambit of legislative discretion. According to the fundamental principles of balance and proportionality, the Court underscored that the limits of that discretion are conditioned by the social-economic possibilities of the state balanced with the requirements of the constitutional nature of social state. The Court stated that in Armenia, private pension payments are contributions from additional compulsory payments from salary and taxes. The social security system, however, is based on stable social payments, which is more reliable.
The Court also highlighted several issues concerned with the forms of legal regulation of the relations set forth in some of the debated provisions. In this regard, the Court noted that the Constitution stipulates the scope of the relations that could be regulated solely by law, while the regulation of some of the relations of that kind is included in the authority of various bodies other than legislature. In this light, the Court declared those norms to be inconsistent with the Constitution.
The Court also held that it is necessary to stipulate definite and different approaches to legal responsibility in accordance with the nature of the regulations of the discussed law, as such regulations could become important guarantee for the reliance on the debated system.
Governed by the aforementioned, the Constitutional Court declared that some of the provisions are inconsistent with the Constitution and void, in so far as they do not ensure everyone’s right to possess, use, dispose and bequeath his or her salary at his or her discretion and lead to limitation to the right to property beyond the person’s wish. Some of the provisions have been declared unconstitutional as they do not stipulate guarantees for the protection of human rights and do not define the limits of the discretion of the executive power, as well as some of the provisions stipulate authority to regulate the relations subject to regulation by legislature for other bodies.
The Court also held that the provisions declared consistent with the Constitution could not be interpreted and implemented in the context which presumes limitation to right to property beyond the person’s will. The Constitutional Court also held that the provisions declared inconsistent with the Constitution will become void on 30 September 2014.