The Turkish Constitutional Court recently considered the right
to a fair trial. It held that the applicant's right to a fair
trial had been violated because the first instance court had based
its verdict on irrelevant legislation. Accordingly, the
Constitutional Court sent the case back to the first instance court
to be re-examined.
The applicant argued that her right to a fair trial and the
legality of crime and punishment principle had been violated on the
basis the first instance court had rejected her earlier
cancellation action regarding an administrative traffic fine, where
the court's reasoning was not relevant to the material
The Constitutional Court upheld the applicant's claim,
emphasizing that all persons are constitutionally entitled to seek
legal remedies and all court verdicts must indicate the
justification for their decision. The court noted these rights
arise from the Turkish Constitution (Article 36, right to fair
trial; Article 141, publicity of hearings and the necessity of
justified verdicts) and the European Convention on Human Rights
(Article 6, right to fair trial).
The Constitutional Court noted that the court of first
instance's decision discussed driving without a license and
issuing an administrative fine to the plate owner, rather than
whether the driver complied with the law in these specific
circumstances. According to the Constitutional Court, the verdict
by the court of first instance is based on irrelevant legislation
because the administrative fine is given for exceeding the speed
limit and such fine should also be served to the plate owner. As a
result, the Constitutional Court returned the matter to the court
of first instance to be re-examined.
Dissenting judges in the Constitutional Court's decision
commented that serving the administrative fine to the plate owner
does not violate the right to a fair trial. These dissenting judges
Previous Constitutional Court decisions show that where a legal
or physical assumption exists, the burden of proof may shift to the
accused party. However, the shifting burden does not violate the
presumption of innocence, nor the right to fair a trial. Therefore,
the dissenting judges commented that in the case at hand, the
administrative fine can be served to the plate owner as well as the
driver, since the identity of the driver cannot be easily
The relevant traffic rule's purpose is to protect public
order, as well as society's health and security. Therefore,
legislators can restrict several rights without exceeding
citizen's constitutional rights.
Where there is no serious damage to the applicant, the
Constitutional Court can rule applications as inadmissible,
provided the application does not raise significant issues about
applying and interpreting the Constitution, or determining the
scope and limitations to fundamental rights.
The full text of the Constitutional Court's reasoned
decision (2014/1292, dated 10 June 2015) can be found at
this link (only available in Turkish).
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