Press Release No: Individual Application 32/20
Press Release concerning the Judgment Finding a Violation of the Right of Access to a Court due to Dismissal of a Case for the Alleged Lack of Capacity to Sue
On 5 March 2020, the Plenary of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the right of access to a court within the scope of the right to a fair trial safeguarded by Article 36 of the Constitution in the individual application lodged by Kemal Çakır and Others (no. 2016/13846).
The applicants, having learned that a wind power plant (WPP) was being planned to be built in an area close to the neighbourhood where their properties were located, brought an action seeking the annulment of the decision regarding the relevant project, which stated that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was not required.
The administrative court dismissed the case for the applicants’ lack of capacity to sue. In its reasoning, the court specified that as the applicants’ properties were not within the scope of the impugned project, there was no dispute affecting their personal and daily interests. Following the applicants’ subsequent appeal, the Council of State upheld the administrative court’s decision.
The Applicants’ Allegations
The applicants maintained that their right of access to a court had been violated due to dismissal, without an examination on the merits, of the action they had brought seeking the annulment of the decision whereby it was concluded that an EIA was not required for the impugned project.
The Court’s Assessment
In the present case, various WPP projects have been carried out in and around the area where the applicants’ properties are located.
The subject matter of the dispute is related to the decision whereby it was concluded that an EIA was not required for the project related to a WPP to be built in an area close to the place where the applicants’ properties were located. The administrative court denied the examination of the merits of the dispute on the grounds that the applicants’ interests had not been violated due to the said project and that their only being citizens or individuals would not grant them a capacity to sue. The appellate authority upheld the administrative court’s decision in so far as it was related to the dismissal of the case for the applicants’ lack of capacity to sue.
The impugned decisions of the interior courts included a categorical approach that those who did not have a property in the project area would not be able to challenge against the impugned project under any circumstances, regardless of their subjective conditions such as the closeness of their properties to the project area as well as their intended use. Since such an approach made it impossible for the people, who were likely to be affected by the project, to bring an action, the said interference with the applicants' right of access to a court was disproportionate.
The administrative court’s assessment on the applicants’ interest in terms of their action for annulment of the decision related to the impugned project and the manner it applied the relevant procedural rules was a strict interpretation of the right to access the court. Such an interpretation rendered the applicants' right of access to a court almost impossible. Accordingly, the dismissal of the applicants’ action due to their alleged lack of capacity to sue constituted a disproportionate interference with their right of access to a court.
Consequently, the Court has found a violation of the right of access to a court within the scope of the right to a fair trial safeguarded by Article 36 of the Constitution.
This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.