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Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Takes Stand in Connection with Protracted Proceedings Aimed at Allocating Municipal Support

The protracted proceedings of the local government of the municipality of Sukoró caused an impropriety related to the fair administration of authority matters, due to which the petitioner’s right to legal certainty was also violated; moreover, it caused an impropriety related to a needy person’s right to social security, as was established by the Ombudsman. 

The petitioner turning to the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights complained that the local government did not reply to his application for municipal support. The permanently ill and unemployed applicant was informed that he was not eligible for support because he had an outstanding debt of social loan.

In his report on Case No. AJB-1147/2020, Dr. Ákos Kozma exposed that the local government had provided a local government aid to the complainant under its regulation drafted in accordance with Section 45(1) of the Social Act (“Szoctv.”) which had been in force earlier. However, upon the transformation of the social care system in 2015, the legislator repealed the so-called “local government aid”, replacing it with the so-called “municipal support”. Simultaneously to that, the regulation no longer provided for interest-free loans as a form of social assistance. At the same time, the municipal council of the local government of Sukoró did not decide on transitional provisions regarding social loans under repayment.

The Ombudsman established that the town clerk of the local government had told the complainant that a precondition to the allocation of extraordinary municipal support was that there should be no outstanding debt booked on the petitioner’s name towards the local government. But the complainant did have an outstanding debt of social loan.

The report pointed out that indeed, the decision regarding the complainant’s application for municipal support was made only weeks after the deadline prescribed by law. The protracted proceedings aimed at the assessment of the complainant’s application by the mayor caused an impropriety related to the fair administration of authority matters, due to which the petitioner’s right to legal certainty was also infringed. The lack of communication on behalf of the authority raised concern especially because it made the social situation of the financially vulnerable and needy person even more difficult. In consequence of the above, the proceedings led to an impropriety also in relation to the needy person’s right to social security. Neither the town clerk of Sukoró, nor the mayor provided adequate information to the complainant, due to which the proceedings under inquiry were liable to cause an impropriety in relation to the needy person’s right to personal legal certainty and social security, as well as to pose an imminent danger of impairment of rights.

In connection with fundamental rights, the report also highlighted the consistently advocated position of the Constitutional Court with a particular importance in the matter at hand, according to which the simultaneous application of the specific legal provisions and the fundamental principles can ensure that the procedure of the authority shall be not only lawful but also equitable and constitutional at all times.

During the Ombudsman’s inquiry, the mayor took actions to end the situation that had caused the infringement of a fundamental right, and at her initiative, the municipal council of the local government of Sukoró remedied the impropriety within its competence by exempting the complainant from the repayment of the social loan.

With a view to preventing the future occurrence of such fundamental rights-related improprieties, Dr. Ákos Kozma called the town clerk’s attention to the necessity of providing comprehensive, accurate and reliable information to clients, as well as to the importance of respecting procedural deadlines.

For the report, please click on the following link: AJB-1147/2020.