Press Release No: Individual Application 12/22

Press Release concerning the Judgment Finding a Violation of the Right to a Reasoned Decision due to Rejection of the Appellate Request without any Reason Being Stated

On 21 October 2021, the Plenary of the Constitutional Court found a violation of the right to a reasoned decision within the scope of the right to a fair trial safeguarded by Article 36 the Constitution in the individual application lodged by Ümmügülsüm Şalgar (no. 2016/12847).

The Facts

The applicant, having successfully passed the exam for being a police officer, enrolled for the vocational training. As a result of the security clearance investigation conducted against the applicant during the training period, it was found that her husband had been imposed a punishment for forgery of official documents, the pronouncement of which had been suspended. Thereupon, the applicant’s status as a candidate student was terminated under Article 7 of the repealed Regulation on Admission to the Police Vocational Training Centres (“the Regulation”), and she was dismissed from the Police Vocational Training Centre (“the Training Centre”) for no longer being entitled to be a candidate student. The applicant’s challenge against her dismissal was rejected by the administrative court. Upon appeal, the decision was upheld by the Council of State, and the applicant’s subsequent request for rectification was also rejected.

The Applicant’s Allegations

The applicant claimed that her right to a reasoned decision had been violated, stating that her appellate request against her dismissal from the Training Centre due to her husband’s previous punishment, the pronouncement of which had been suspended, had been rejected without any reason being stated.

The Court’s Assessment

The right to hold a public service is laid down as a fundamental right in Article 70 of the Constitution. It is also stipulated in Article 13 thereof that the fundamental rights and freedoms may be restricted only by law. In the present case, the applicant was dismissed from the training centre in accordance with a provision included in the repealed Regulation on the ground that she did not possess the requisite qualifications for admission to the Training Centres.

Law No. 3201 empowering the repealed Regulation for the regulation of the conditions sought for admission to the Training Centres contains no provision regarding the qualifications required for being a student in these centres. It is only stated in additional Article 24 therein that the qualifications required to be possessed by the students for admission to the Training Centre shall be specified in the regulation.

In its many judgments, the Court has considered that suspension of the pronouncement of judgment is not a decision on the merits of the dispute and that it should not necessarily be interpreted as a final conviction. In this regard, the Court has pointed out the fact that the consideration of the suspension of pronouncement of the judgment as a conviction decision may infringe fundamental rights, especially the presumption of innocence.

The applicant claimed, both through her petition of complaint and appellate petition, that the impugned provision of the Regulation underlying her dismissal, fell foul of the superior statutory norms. She also argued that the suspension of the pronouncement of the judgment was not a final decision, that its nature was controversial, and that after the probation period elapsed, it would bear the same result as acquittal.

Apparently, the alleged unlawfulness and unconstitutionality of the impugned provision of the repealed Regulation, which is decisive in terms of the applicant’s civil rights and obligations, as well as having impacts such as directly affecting and restricting the right to hold a public service, is an arguable claim that might change the outcome of the proceedings. In addition, it is not obvious whether an exception could be introduced through the Regulation regarding the assessment of the suspension of the pronouncement of the judgment, despite the statutory arrangements and judicial case-law indicating that the suspension of the pronouncement of the judgment cannot necessarily be regarded as a conviction decision and thus it does not bear a final consequence for the accused (even, in the present case, the applicant is not the accused, but the accused’s wife). Besides, the applicant’s claims concerning the nature of the procedure of the suspension of the pronouncement of the judgment are of serious concern. Accordingly, the applicant should avail of the opportunity to raise her claims before the courts, as well as, the courts must address in their decisions the applicant’s substantial claims in accordance with the right to a reasoned decision.

In the present case, the inferior court, however, failed to examine the applicant’s relevant arguments that might have affected the outcome of the proceedings, and the reasoned decision issued at the end of the proceedings contained no assessment to that end. Hence, the main issues regarding the dispute were not discussed by the inferior court in its reasoned decision.

In spite of the applicant’s appeal raising similar allegations, the appellate authority neither made an explanation nor provided justification regarding the aforementioned issues. As a rule, if the inferior court provided sufficient justification in its decision on the merits, the appellate court might reasonably make an assessment by referring to the former’s decision. However, in cases where the said decision contains no reasoning, the applicant’s challenges must be addressed by the appellate authority with reasonings. In the present case, neither the first instance court nor the appellate authority addressed the applicant’s claims and provided reasoning thereof, which rendered the proceedings unfair as a whole.

Consequently, the Court has found a violation of the right to a reasoned decision within the scope of the right to a fair trial.

This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.