The Constitutional Court decided on a petition to review the constitutionality of the Primary School Act and the Matura Examination Act, as well as the constitutional complaints lodged against decisions that had denied the complainants access to public information on the basis of the eighth paragraph of Article 64 and Article 65 of the Primary School Act and the third paragraph of Article 18a of the Matura Examination Act. The complainants namely requested access to information on the results of all primary and secondary schools in external examinations of knowledge (i.e. the results of primary schools in the national external assessment of knowledge and the results of individual secondary schools in the matura school-leaving examination). They sought to use the stated information in order to rank primary and secondary schools according to the results achieved in external examinations of knowledge. The complainants were denied access to the requested information with the substantiation that the challenged statutory provisions prohibit the use of the results of individual schools in external examinations of knowledge for the purpose of ranking schools. The statutory prohibition namely prohibits the entities liable to provide the requested information from combining the data from the relevant electronic database in such a manner that it would enable the ranking of schools.

In its decision, the Constitutional Court clarified the content of the right of access to public information as determined by the Constitution. It adopted the position that the right of access to public information is a constituent part of the right to freedom of expression. Article 39 of the Constitution protects access to information held by a public entity that originates from its work area, that is readily available in the moment the request is lodged, and that by its nature or substance is such that it can influence the effective exercise of the right to freedom of expression. The Constitutional Court adopted the position that the constitutional term public information does not equal the identical term used in the Access to Public Information Act. However, the constitutional right of access to public information has the same scope and substance as ensured by Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Therefore, protection of the right of access to public information is guaranteed in the framework of Article 39 of the Constitution without its beneficiaries having to demonstrate a legal interest under law.

The right of access to public information is not absolute. The Constitutional Court stressed, however, that when regulating restrictions of access to public information the legislature must proceed from the presumption that the functioning of public authorities must be public and transparent. A restriction of access to public information is admissible only exceptionally, i.e. if the disclosure of the information in question would compromise the achievement of another constitutionally admissible objective.

When reviewing the proportionality of the interference with the right to freedom of expression due to the restriction of access to the requested information, it must be assessed, on the one hand, to what extent access to the requested information (and consequently its public disclosure) would compromise the achievement of the constitutionally admissible objective and, on the other hand, how the restriction of access to the requested public information would affect the effective exercise of the right to freedom of expression.

Taking into consideration the above-stated starting points, the Constitutional Court assessed that the eighth paragraph of Article 64 and Article 65 of the Primary School Act and the third paragraph of Article 18a of the Matura Examination Act are not inconsistent with Article 39 of the Constitution. It adopted the position that by its substance and nature, information on the results of primary and secondary schools in external examinations of knowledge is such that the rejection of access to such information could affect the effective exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and therefore the challenged provisions fall within the scope of protection of Article 39 of the Constitution. However, the challenged provisions do not prevent persons entitled to access public information from accessing other information related to external examinations that enable public discussion of the quality of education.

The Constitutional Court adopted the position that access to information may also be important for the exercise of other human rights and fundamental freedoms, therefore protection of this right is guaranteed not only within the framework of the right to freedom of expression but also within the framework of other human rights and fundamental freedoms. The petitioners namely claimed that the challenged provisions that restrict access to information on the ranking of individual primary and secondary schools according to the results achieved in external examinations of knowledge impede the choice of an appropriate primary or secondary school. Therefore, they allegedly also entail a violation of the right to education and the rights and duties of parents relating to ensuring their children’s education. The Constitutional Court found that the challenged provisions of the Primary School Act and the Matura Examination Act do not fall within the scope protected by the right to education and the rights and duties of parents relating to ensuring their children’s education.

The central arguments raised in two of the constitutional complaints requesting the Constitutional Court to review the decisions rejecting access to information on the results of all primary and secondary schools in the external assessment of knowledge were, in their essence, the same as the arguments raised in the petition for the review of constitutionality. The Constitutional Court therefore dismissed these constitutional complaints.

The Constitutional Court did, however, grant the constitutional complaint that concerned the review of the decision rejecting access to the matura examination results of one particular secondary school. It held that the third paragraph of Article 18a of the Matura Examination Act cannot be understood as prohibiting the entity liable to provide access to public information from creating, on the basis of the existing data contained in the relevant database, information regarding the connection between an individual secondary school and its matura examination results. It must rather be understood as only prohibiting the creation of a document containing information that enables the ranking of secondary schools according to the matura examination results. The Administrative Court thus attributed to the third paragraph of Article 18a of the Matura Examination Act a meaning that cannot be construed by means of the established methods of legal interpretation. Therefore, the Constitutional Court established a violation of the right to the equal protection of rights.