Press Release No: Individual Application 54/23
Press Release concerning the Judgment Dismissing the Application Alleging Violation of the Right to a Trial Within a Reasonable Time Due to Lack of Justification for Continuing the Examination of the Application
On 25 July 2023, the Plenary of the Constitutional Court decided that the application alleging a violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time be dismissed due to lack of justification for continuing the examination of the application, in the individual application lodged by Keser Altıntaş (no. 2023/18536).
In an action brought on 14 December 2016, the applicant requested the registration in his name of a property that, based on the previous land title record, had been classified as an undeclared road during the cadastral survey. In the course of the legal proceedings, M.B. filed an intervening petition, seeking the registration of the property in his name. The court held that the action brought by the applicant be granted, the existing land title record be cancelled and the immovable property be recorded and registered in the name of the applicant, and the lawsuit filed by the main intervening party be dismissed. Upon the defendants’ appeal, the decision was annulled and the case was remitted to the lower court. The court, upon reopening the proceedings, held on 1 November 2022 that the action be upheld, the land title record be cancelled and the immovable property be registered and recorded in the name of the defendant, and the action brought by the main intervening party be deemed not to have been brought. The notification procedures for the relevant decision are currently ongoing.
The Applicant’s Allegations
The applicant maintained that his right to a trial within a reasonable time was violated due to the prolongation of the land title cancellation and registration proceedings.
The Court’s Assessment
Various measures have been implemented by international organisations, as well as by legislative, executive, and judicial authorities, to ensure that trials are concluded within a reasonable time. This is one of the fundamental aspects of the right to a fair trial as safeguarded by the European Convention on Human Rights and the Constitution. In this context, the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”), in the case of Ümmühan Kaplan v. Türkiye, highlighted a structural issue in this regard and the absence of an effective remedy. As a result, the ECHR decided to apply the pilot judgment procedure. Subsequently, Law no. 6384 granted the Compensation Commission of the Ministry of Justice (“Compensation Commission”) the authority and responsibility to examine the applications lodged with the ECHR alleging a violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time. In addition, as part of these measures, Provisional Article 2 of the aforementioned Law sets forth that “an application may be made to the Commission concerning certain individual applications pending before the Constitutional Court”. This provision specifies that individual applications pending before the Court as of 31 July 2018, when Provisional Article 2 entered into force, may be examined by the Compensation Commission. This can be done upon an application to be made within three months from the notification of the Court’s decision of inadmissibility due to non-exhaustion of legal remedies.
Despite these regulations, the Constitutional Court emphasised the existence of a structural problem in relation to the right to a trial within a reasonable time and stressed the need to establish an effective remedy, as provided for in Article 40 of the Constitution, before resorting to an individual application to the Constitutional Court to address grievances arising from the violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time (Nevriye Kuruç [Plenary], no. 2021/58970, 5 July 2022). The Constitutional Court communicated the decision to the Grand National Assembly of Türkiye for the resolution of the constitutional problem regarding the right to a trial within a reasonable time, thereby fulfilling its constitutional obligations. In addition, it was held that the pilot judgment procedure be applied to address the structural issue.
Following the issuance of the Nevriye Kuruç judgment, Provisional Article 2 of Law no. 6384 was amended by Article 40 of Law no. 7445. This amendment introduced the possibility of applying to the Compensation Commission for cases pending before the Constitutional Court as of 9 March 2023. No mechanism has been put in place for applications submitted after this date. Consequently, the requirements of the Constitutional Court’s pilot judgment, Nevriye Kuruç, were not fully satisfied, and only the possibility of applying to the Compensation Commission for pending applications up to a certain date was established. Additionally, the amendment did not establish any administrative or judicial mechanism to be resorted to before filing an application with the Constitutional Court, and applications alleging a violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time continue to be submitted directly to the Constitutional Court.
In the light of the foregoing, it has been considered that the meaning and significance of the pilot judgment procedure would cease to exist, as no administrative or judicial remedy could be pursued without first applying to the Constitutional Court, and as alleged violations of the right to a trial within a reasonable time would remain subject to direct review by the Constitutional Court. It is also evident that after more than 55,000 judgments on violations, many of which merely determine the amount of compensation, these judgments no longer contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights.
In conclusion, taking into account the manner in which cases alleging violations of the right to a trial within a reasonable time have been examined, the number of judgments finding violations, and the principles set out in the pilot judgment, it is clear that there is no longer any justification for the Constitutional Court to continue to examine such applications. In accordance with the requirements of the pilot judgment, it has been concluded that these applications can be examined once an effective remedy has been established for applications alleging a violation of the right to a trial within a reasonable time.
Consequently, the Court has decided to dismiss the application, as there is no justification for continuing with its examination.
This press release prepared by the General Secretariat intends to inform the public and has no binding effect.