a) Armenia / b) Constitutional Court / c) / d) 14-11-2014 / e) DCC-1175 / f) On the conformity with the Constitution of the provisions of Law on State Pensions / g) Tegekagir (Official Gazette) / h) CODICES (English).
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to property. (Right to property, limitations to right to property, inheritance )
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to property - Other limitations.
In light of the constitutional regulations on the right to property, its realisation, the limitations and protection of the right to property, as well as the necessity to guarantee the rule of law, any legal condition, especially a newly added one, must have the legitimate aim to ensure more effective guarantees that do not compromise any constitutional norm or principle.
I. The applicant challenged the Law on State Pensions. The specific provision at issue stipulated that a pension that was unpaid, due to the pensioner’s death, could be inherited if the application and the necessary documents were submitted to a pension granting division within 12 months after the death of the pensioner. The applicant argued that the abovementioned regulation contradicted the Constitution as it constrained the right of a person to inherit the pension entitlements of the retired.
II. The Constitutional Court emphasised that the regulation refers to a person’s right to inherit the pension entitlements of the retired. Simultaneously, the Court reiterated that the pension, being a means of social security, is also a form of property, in accordance with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. Thus, the Court stressed the importance to assess the constitutionality of the argued provisions in light of the constitutional regulations on the right to property.
The Court noted that the regulation on the 12 months time limit for the inheritance of the pension entitlements was added in the Law on State Pension in 2012. Previously, regulations on pension inheritance were set out in the Civil Code. The Court stated that the new regulation excludes the possibility to receive money if the omission of that time limit occurred for justifiable reasons.
With the new regulation, the legislator did not provide the possibility to recognise an omission as a justification for not respecting a time-limit, in a judicial matter. In this regard the Constitutional Court held that the absence of such regulation jeopardises the complete realisation of the constitutional right to property, particularly the protection of that right set forth in Articles 18 and 19 of the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court held that the time-limit is not conditioned by the demand to protect public values. Thus, it is not directed at guaranteeing a reasonable balance between the owner and other’s rights and the public interest.
The Court emphasised that, according to the Civil Code, one can accept the inheritance by submitting the application to the notary within 6 months after opening the probate process. The Court stated that this time-limit is not absolute. Even if the person omits that time, he or she can still inherit the property if he or she satisfies some legal conditions. One can accept the property without applying to the Court if the other inheritors consent. The Code also stipulates the possibility to request the Court to recognise the omission of time-limit of 6 months as justified. The Civil Code also defines another way of accepting an inheritance, particularly one can accept the inheritance when he or she starts to dispose or administer the inherited property de facto. The Court stated that the mentioned regulations also refer to the inheritance of the pension of the retired.
As a result of the consideration, the regulation «if the application and necessary documents are brought to the department fixing the pension within 12 months after the death of the pensioner» has been declared to be in contradiction with the Constitution and void.