On The Procedure For Appealing Against The Central Election Commission Decisions And Actions In The Supreme Court Of Russia
In accordance with Article 23 of the federal Law on Election of President of the Russian Federation decisions and actions (inaction) of the Central Election Commission and its officials can be appealed against in the RF Supreme Court.
Terms for reviewal of complaints
The federal Law on the Basic Guarantees of electoral rights of the citizens of the Russian Federation stipulates that resolutions on complaints received during the election shall be adopted in five days, on those received on the election day shall be adopted immediately. If facts reported in a complaint demand further verification, resolutions on such complaints shall be adopted within ten days.
This provision is common to all election laws. At the same time federal election laws, the federal law on election of President of the Russian Federation in particular, may determine shortened deadlines (regularly three day term) for reviewal of complaints by certain electoral process stages, such as candidate registration.
The Law on election of President of the Russian Federation does not provide for shortened reviewal terms for complaints about CEC decisions on determination of presidential election results.
Rules for case reviewal in the RF Supreme Court
A complaint can be reviewed by one judge if the plaintiff gives consent to this (Article 239-6 of the Civil Process Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, hereinafter referred to as the CPC). As a rule, cases based on appeals against resolutions, actions (inaction) of the CEC
are reviewed by on Supreme Court judge.
As a rule, a public prosecutor participates in such hearings. In accordance with Article 41 of the CPC the court determines whether a prosecutor should be present. The Prosecutor General's Office is informed of the upcoming hearing in advance. A public prosecutor participating in such a trial has a right to familiarize himself/herself with case documents, make rejections, provide evidence, participate in evidence verification, make petitions, give expert opinions on issues emerging during case hearings and on the case in general, perform other actions stipulated for by law.
The court must review all evidence itself, hearings must be conducted orally and by the same lineup of judges. There may be no interruptions in hearings except for scheduled relaxation breaks (Article 146 of the CPC).
In essence case hearings start with a case brief delivered by the judge, then the court hear explanations of the case participants and reviews case evidence (statements of witnesses, written evidence, expert opinions etc). Upon the in essence hearings the court proceeds to disputes and the prosecutor's resolution. After disputes and the prosecutor's resolution the court leaves for the council room to adopt its decision.
The RFSupreme Court resolution
Having acknowledge the validity of the appeal the court in accordance with Article 239-7 resolves to oblige the CEC to rectify the infringement of citizens' electoral rights in question. Rules regulation adoption of such a resolution and requirements applicable to it are described in Articles 191 - 197 of the CPC.
The resolution is adopted immediately after the case hearing. Drafting of a motivated resolution on exceptionally complicated cases may be completed in no more than three days, but the essence of the resolution must be made public at the last session of the hearings. At the same time the court tells all case participants when they can receive the motivated resolution.
The RF Supreme Court decisions come into force immediately after their declaration (Article 208 of the CPC).
Revival of the RF Supreme Court decisions by way of judicial inspectorate
The RF Supreme Court resolutions on appeals against decisions, actions or inaction of the CEC can be reviewed by way of judicial inspectorate by the Presidium of the Supreme Court upon protests of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Supreme Court or his deputies (Article 319-321 of the CPC). These officials may obtain the case from the court on demand in order to determine if there is sufficient standing for appealing by way of inspectorate. They also have a right to suspend implementation of decisions in question until inspectorate reviewal is completed (Article 323 of the CPC).
When reviewing a case by way of inspectorate. The Supreme Court Presidium reviews legality and validity of the court decisions on the whole on the basis of case and other additional materials.
The case brief is delivered by the court chairman or his deputy or another court member who did not participate in the previous case hearing. A public prosecutor participates in legal proceedings by way of inspectorate. The Court Presidium adopts a decision.
Having reviewed the case, the Supreme Court Presidium has a right:
1. Not to change the previous decision
2. To cancel in whole or in part the decision and to send the case for new hearings to a lowest court.
3. To cancel the decision in whole or in part and cease any legal proceedings on the case or grant no review to the appeal.
4. To amend the decision without granting new reviewal if search and verification of new evidence for the case is not necessary.
Typical possible appeals against decisions, actions (inaction) of the Central Election Commission after June 16, 1996.
1. Appeals against decisions, actions (inaction) of the Central Election Commission pertaining to violations of pre-election agitation and financing rules by candidates.
After June 16, 1996 such complaint can only be addressed to two candidates, will be on the repeated voting ballot, because the Supreme Court can apply such sanctions as prohibition of registration only to them. Because the Supreme Court applies such sanctions as registration prohibition on request of the Central Election Commission, inaction of the CEC can be appealed against in the Supreme Court if there are no such requests.
2. Complaints about wrong determination of voting results by the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation, including complaints about wrong determination of validity of the election.
Not all violations of election legislation can be qualified as grounds for declaring the election invalid: only those directly influencing misrepresentation of the voters' will (ballot forgery, voting for absent persons etc). Election may be declared invalid if the number of such violations is so large that it inhibits reliable determination of voters' will, namely voting results.