U-I-107/96

Reference no.:
U-I-107/96
Objavljeno:
Official Gazette RS, 1/97, Official Gazette RS, 41/97 and OdlUS V, 173, OdlUS VI/104 | 05.12.1996
ECLI:
ECLI:SI:USRS:1996:U.I.107.96
Act:
Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property (Official Gazette RS, No. 74/95) (ZZDZP), Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1; Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4
Operative provisions:
1. Provision of Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property is abrogated. 2. Provision of Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property Act is constitutional. 3. Article 1, Para. 1 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property is abrogated insofar as it provides that the implementation of Article 27 of the Denationalization Act, in conjunction with Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property, shall be suspended for the period of three years. 4. The abrogation under Points 1 and 3 will take effect within six months from the day of this decision's publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia.
Abstract:
1. The challenged statute, which in the case of certain claimants suspends the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen, does not violate the principle of separation of powers under Article 3, Para. 2 of the Constitution. The legislator may amend or replace the already enacted statute by a new statute.

Such a statute is usually named the "statute on amendments and supplements", however, this does not mean that the legislator could not employ any other form for passing an amendment. From the constitutional point of view, it is only important that the legislator when passing an amendment passes a legal act of the same kind; i.e. in the case at hand statute.

2. Since the challenged measures interfere with the constitutionally protected entitlements of denationalization claimants ensuing from an important transitional statute, the reasons, motives, purposes and goals of the legislator should be not only definable, factually justifiable and constitutionally legitimate but the measures based on these premises should be in a democratic society inevitable, for they are dictated by necessary public needs. Yet the legislator's interferences and statutory solutions respectively should be pursuant to the principle of proportionality appropriate and unavoidably required to meet the legislator's objective, and in accord with the value of legislative aims (Item 15 of the reasoning).

3. It is within the legislator's competence to follow the implementation of rules that he enacted, and in the case when substantial and more severe problems occur to take appropriate measures. The principles of justice, legal certainty and the trust in law require that statutes as general and abstract rules should be enacted applying to a longer period of time. As to its purpose the ZDen is a systemic statute. In that statute all basic principles governing the process of denationalization were defined. Yet those principles can be changed according to the principles of a law-based state only under conditions and circumstances cited in Point 15 of this decision.

4. By suspending the denationalization of agricultural lands and woods exceeding 200 ha, the legislator without a justifiable reason caused discrimination among denationalization claimants and thereby beside the principle of a state governed by the rule of law (Article 2 of the Constitution) violated also the general principle of equality before the law under Article 14, Para. 2 of the Constitution. Nevertheless, treating individual denationalization claimants differently or even avoiding to recognize the denationalization right to certain groups of former owners would be constitutionally admissible only under conditions and circumstances stated in Point 15 of this decision.

5. The legislator had enough defined, factually justified and constitutionally legitimate reason to suspend the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen, as to cases arising under Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the challenged statute, and to interfere with the constitutionally protected positions of denationalization claimants. Moreover, suspension is also an appropriate and inevitably necessary measure for reaching a legislator's objective.

6. The principle of a state governed by the rule of law requires the measures, by which the legislator interferes with the implementation of a certain statute leaving those who claim certain rights upon such a statute in uncertainty, to be limited to the shortest time possible. Therefore, the Constitutional Court abrogated the three-year time limit that was set without any specially defined reason and was unproportionate with the established objectives of the challenged statute. The Court decided that the abrogation from Points 1 and 3 of the holding take effect not until six months after this decision's publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia.


Password:
Denationalization, return of property, moratorium.
Religious community, property.
Agricultural lands, woods.
Principle of a social and law-based state.
Principle of separation of powers.
Principle of equality before the law.
Right to private property and inheritance.
Protection of natural and cultural heritage.
Religious communities - status.
Concurring opinion of a Constitutional Court justice.
Legal basis:
Constitution, Articles 2, 3, 7, 14, 33, 67, 73.
Enabling statute for the Implementation of the Constitution (UZIU), Article 1
Denationalization Act (ZDen), Articles 1, 2, 10, 14, 27, 58, 63, 92
Punishment Enforcement Act (ZIKS), Article 145
Agricultural Lands Act (ZKZ), Article 4
Housing Act (SZ), Article 125
Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform, Articles 10, 12 Act on Inheritance of Agricultural Lands (ZDKZ), Article 67 Slovenian Compensation Fund Act (ZSOS), Article 7.b Constitutional Court Act (ZUstS), Articles 21, 26, 43
Note:
In the reasoning of this decision the Constitutional Court refers to its cases U-I-140/94 dated 8 January 1995 (DecCC IV,124), U-I-95/91 dated 14 May 1992 (DecCC I,35), U-I-22/95 dated 14 March 1996 (DecCC V, 29), U-I-119/94 dated 21 March 1996 (DecCC V,32), U-I-105/91 dated 23 April 1992 (DecCC I,28), U-I-122/91 dated 10 September 1992 (DecCC I,56), U-I-57/92 dated 3 November 1994 (DecCC III,117), U-I-25/92 dated 4 March 1993 (DecCC II,23), U-I-10/92 dated 5 November 1992 (DecCC I,79) and U-II-119/96 dated 6 June 1996.

From the reason of joint consideration and decision cases U-I- 67/96, U-I-88/96 dated 11 April 1996, U-I-133/96 dated 11 July 1996, U-I-277/96, U-I-244/96 dated 10 September 1996, U-I-12/96 dated 21 November 1996 and U-I-255/96 were attached by a Constitutional Court ruling to the case considered.
Document in PDF:
The full text:
U-I-107/96
5 December 1996

D E C I S I O N

At a session held on 5 December 1996 in proceedings for review of constitutionality, instituted by the petition of Roman Catholic Diocese of Maribor represented by Mateja Maček, lawyer in Maribor, Metka Belec, Majda Rumpert and Božena Eržen - Deu from Ljubljana, represented by Pavla Sladič - Zemljak, lawyer in Ljubljana, Antonija Dolenc represented by Eda Brecelj, lawyer in Ljubljana, Karolina Hubmayer represented by lawyers' office Jadek and Pensa in Ljubljana, Cistercian Abbey Stična represented by Eda Brecelj, lawyer in Ljubljana, count Carl de Villavicencio - Margheri represented by dr. Mirko Silvo Tischler, lawyer in Ljubljana, Benedictine Priorate Maribor represented by Božena Čačkovič, lawyer in Ptuj, and Peter Bedjanič from Ljubljana represented by Novica Novaković, authorized person, the Constitutional Court

d e c i d e d :

1. Provision of Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property is abrogated.

2. Provision of Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property Act is constitutional.

3. Article 1, Para. 1 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property is abrogated insofar as it provides that the implementation of Article 27 of the Denationalization Act, in conjunction with Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property, shall be suspended for the period of three years.

4. The abrogation under Points 1 and 3 will take effect within six months from the day this decision's publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia.

R e a s o n i n g :

A.

1. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Maribor argued that the challenged statute was not consistent with Articles 2, 14 and 22 of the Constitution and Article 14 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Basic Freedoms. Thus it proposed its abrogation. According to the Diocese, the National Assembly which represents the legislative branch had allegedly no authorization to suspend the implementation of statutory provisions already in force. The implementation of statutes was namely among the executive powers upon which the legislature should not have encroached. However, the legislator was allowed to change, supplement or abrogate a statute yet he could not interfere with its implementation. According to petitioner, by adopting the challenged statute the National Assembly had allegedly violated the principle of a law-based state under Article 2 of the Constitution, which includes also the principle of legal certainty and the principle of trust in law's validity and stability. Petitioner emphasized that the challenged statute entailed uncertainty among those citizens to which the statute applied, what contradicted the principles of a law-based state. Following petitioner, the challenged statute also violated the principle of equality before the law, because it introduced discrimination against a certain category of claimants - those persons who claim the return of more than 200 ha of agriculture land, and whose claims have not yet been resolved due to slowness of administrative proceedings.

Petitioner also pointed out that in accord with the one-year time limit as imposed by the statute all denationalization claims should had been decided until the challenged statute came in force. Thus, suspension of the statute's implementation was allegedly in an explicit contradiction with Article 22 of the Constitution which assures to everyone equal protection of his or her rights in proceedings before the organs that decide upon his or her rights, duties or legal interests. However, claimants to denationalization to which the challenged statute applied were in an unequal position also compared to those claimants who claimed the return of more than 200 ha of agricultural land, and as well as to agrarian communities.

2. Petitioners Metka Belec, Majda Rumpret and Božena Eržen - Deu purported that they were returned by a final decision more than 200 ha of forests and agricultural lands. However, because of the challenged statute they cannot be given back the remaining real estate which is still subject to pending proceedings. By enacting the challenged statute the principle of legal certainty was allegedly infringed. That caused citizens, whose claims have not yet been decided, to be deprived of possibility to regain the real estate within the three-year period. According to petitioners, the challenged statute resulted in people's shaken confidence in the principle of validity and stability of the law. The Denationalization Act (hereinafter: ZDen) was enacted with a view of redressing injustices to make claimants believe that the State will repair past wrongs. The ZDen enabled claimants with the right to the return of real estate.

Yet the challenged statute allegedly interfered with their vested rights, so a violation of the principle on prohibition against retrospective effect of statutes occurred. Petitioners also proposed that the Court, according to Article 30 of the Constitutional Court Act, review the constitutionality of the whole statute, although they did not have standing to challenge all subparagraphs of Article 1, Para. 1.

3. In her petition, Karolina Hubmayer claimed that she was entitled together with her deceased mother and his deceased brother's wife to the return of more than 200 ha of forests and agricultural lands. By six partial decisions, around 212 ha of forests and agricultural lands have been so far returned to all three claimants. Also, the competent administrative organ found for all three claimants to have been Yugoslav citizens during the nationalization process. Petitioner opined that the challenged statute contradicted the principle of legal certainty, of which one element was also justice. The ZDen was meant to redress injustices inflicted in the post-war period, yet the challenged statute deferred this repair of wrongs only with respect to certain persons. The challenged statute's goal was according to petitioner unclear. Only the problem of return of forests to foreigners and to persons who received or could receive compensation from a foreign country, and the problem of restituting large estates, was brought forward to the public.

Petitioner believed that the Denationalization Act was unequivocally aimed at returning property to those persons who were Yugoslav citizens in the time of nationalization. The fact that the citizenship of petitioner and her family members was not kept in official records cannot allegedly change her status. For no particular reason, her family was forcibly exiled from the country in the beginning of 1946. Thus petitioner believed to be unjustly to restrict in any manner, or defer with the repairing of wrongs of, those persons whom the post-war non- democratic regime simply erased from the records, and accordingly who have to prove their citizenship now.

Furthermore, petitioner alleged that the present valid legal order allowed the creation of large estates. In her petition she referred to Constitutional Court decision No. U-I-222/91 dated 10 September 1992, by which the maximum extent of land's ownership was abrogated, and to decision No. U-I-57/92 dated 3 November 1994 where a possibility to own large farms (large estates) is explicitly mentioned. Since the challenged statute allegedly suspended the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen as to claimants' financial situation, it was also contrary to Article 14 of the Constitution which assures the equality before the law to anyone. The challenged statute was allegedly contrary to the principle of equality also because it discriminated against the claimants on the nationality basis.

Petitioner was not entered in the citizen records because her mother was German. Petitioner emphasized that the ZDen clearly excluded foreign citizens and those who wronged their country and fellow citizens during the war. She also believed the challenged statute to be inconsistent with Articles 33, 67, 69, 70 and 71 of the Constitution, for it restricted her right to own real estate subject to suspension and also does not provide compensation over the period when suspension is taking place.

Since the present managers do not take enough care about the forests under moratorium, petitioner is likely within this three-year moratorium to suffer irreparable damages which recovery she will claim under Article 26 of the Constitution.

Thus, she proposed that the Court decide upon her petition as soon as possible.

4. Another petitioner, the Cistercian Abbey Stična, challenged Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the ZZDZP. Petitioner argued that this statute prevented competent organs to solve her denationalization claims as to the return of forests and agricultural lands. The Abbey believed such moratorium to be contrary to Article 2 of the Constitution and to be a covered lengthening of denationalization which the legislator itself limited in Article 58, Para. 1 of the ZDen to one year.

Petitioner opined that by enacting the challenged statute the National Assembly encroached upon the executive branch, for the National Assembly did not have the right to put the statute under moratorium. The challenged provision contradicted also the principle of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution by way of discriminating against claimants with respect to the extent of agricultural land and forests. Under Article 51 of the Code of Obligation, an act issued by a state organ is also one among the various types provided for acquiring title. Thus the challenged provision makes impossible and prevents the acquisition and enjoyment of ownership of nationalized agricultural lands and forests. Therefore, according to petitioner, the whole statute was contrary to Article 67, Para. 1 of the Constitution.

A supplemented petition entered upon a special authorization given to lawyer dr. Mirko Silvo Tischler treated the question of standing of the Roman Catholic church and its institutions in Slovenia with regard to the return of church property.

Petitioner opined that views presented by certain legal experts, among others also by academician dr. Stojan Pretnar, explaining that the Roman Catholic Church's institutions are considered to be foreign legal entities, were incorrect. The Act on Legal Position of Religious Communities recognized to religious communities and their organs the status of legal entities. That meant that Slovenian Roman Catholic institutions became the holders of rights and obligations. The Act on Legal Position of Religious Communities also prohibited acts by religious communities and their organs to apply to the public. This means that the Republic of Slovenia does not recognize general acts by the Roman Catholic Church to have any effect on the public.

Roman Catholic institutions are bound to Codex Iuris Canonici (hereinafter: CIC) yet, according to the territorial principle, they are also bound to the national law and they must follow applicable general acts, for church institutions do not hold any extraterritorial rights. Granting churches a status of legal entity Canon 373 corresponds with Slovenian legislature, since a Slovenian statute has conferred religious communities the statuts of legal entity. Furthermore, petitioner believed that Canons 1273 and 1292 did not deprive Slovenian church legal entities of the autonomy as conferred to them by the Slovenian law in force. Both provisions are important only for giving consensus to certain actions (consensus in consilium), what regulates Canon 127. Non-compliance with this institute entails sanctions only within internal church law, only for internal church relations, not outside the church against third parties.

Petitioner emphasized that the Slovenian Roman Catholic institutions are legal entities under the Slovenian law, which are independent, and possible restrictions under the CIC do not apply to Slovenian state organs. The CIC vested legal entities of church law with autonomy and the Holy Seat is primarily just an "unitive organization" with regard to the very ends pursued by the Church (Christian teaching, piety, apostleship, Christian charity). It is merely about pursuing universal, ideal common purposes (unity) having at the same time plurality of legal entities in existence - it is similar as in the case of business law with trusts, holding companies, and other associations where a common economic interest agreed upon coexisted together with the plurality of legal entities. Petitioner argued that Canons 1273 and 1292 did not deprive church organizations of their standing to bring their case to the Constitutional Court and to file denationalization claims. Thus, petitioner proposed that the Court granted the petition completely.

5. In her petition, Antonija Dolenc alleged to be a legal successor to a denationalization claimant, deceased Pavel Dolenc, who received a certificate showing that he had been considered a Yugoslav citizen from 28 August 1945 on. Yet due to Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the challenged statute her denationalization case cannot be solved. According to petitioner, the challenged provision violated Article 2 of the Constitution, proclaiming the Republic of Slovenia to be a law- based state, and also violated Article 67 of the Constitution, since by the challenged provision her constitutional rights were limited contrary to Article 16, Para. 3. Constitutional rights may be restricted only exceptionally for the duration of war or of the state of emergency. Furthermore, she argued the challenged statute to be nothing but a covered prolongation of denationalization process and, accordingly, she referred to Article 58, Para. 1 which provides that a first instance organ decision shall be made upon a correctly filed denationalization request and delivered to a claimant within one year. She proposed that the Court abrogate the challenged provision.

6. Count Carl de Villavicencio - Margheri asserted that, pursuant to Article 63, Para. 3 of the ZDen, a decision was made by which it was established that his father as denationalization claimant was not a citizen of the Republic of Slovenia.

Furthermore, it was laid down in the decision that following the citizenship law, applying in Slovenia before the enactment of the Act on the Republic of Slovenia Citizenship, he was not considered to be a Yugoslav citizen either. Since the decision had not yet become final, petitioner believed he had standing to challenge the Act on Partial Suspension of the Return of Property. He opined that the whole statute, suspending in specific cases the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen for three years, was contrary to Articles 2, 86 and Article 155, Para. 2 of the Constitution. He argued that the legislator did not have any constitutional authorization to postpone the implementation of a statute which had been already in force and applied. The legislator could have only changed the ZDen.

Following petitioner, the principle of a state governed by the rule of law, i.e. especially the principle of trust in law and the principle of vested rights, was also violated by the challenged statute. Petitioner emphasized that the challenged statute as a whole interfered with the issues having been already decided and therefore contradicted the principle on prohibition against retrospective legislation. Petitioner also proposed that the Court following the principle of mutual relatedness1 review the constitutionality of provisions of Chapter 16 of the General Administrative Procedure Act regulating special cases of abrogation, abrogation ab initio and change of administrative decisions. He believed those provisions were unconstitutional. Petitioner proposed that the Court abrogated the entire challenged statute.

7. In its petition the Benedictine Priorate Maribor, as a denationalization claimant to the return of about 519 ha of land, believed the challenged statute to be contrary to Articles 1, 2, 14, 16, 22, 33 and 155 of the Constitution. The said statute was allegedly inconsistent also with Article 8 of the Constitution and in conjunction with this article also with Article 14 of the Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Petitioner thought that denationalization claimants obtained the right to property when they filed their claims if not already when the ZDen had become effective.

According to petitioner, the challenged statute suspending the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen was contrary to the principles of a law-based state and equality before the law, for it allegedly created obvious discrimination against denationalization claimants. Petitioner stressed that the legislator's intent to determine 200 ha as the upper limit for the return of nationalized land cannot be derived from any legal sources. Petitioner proposed that the Constitutional Court find the challenged statute unconstitutional.

8. Peter Bedjanič asserted to be a legal successor to denationalization claimant, deceased Olga Kocič, who claimed the return of over 200 ha of agricultural lands and forests.

Petitioner argued Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the challenged statute to be contrary to Articles 14, 15, 22 and 155 of the Constitution. He opined that by limiting the return of agricultural lands and forests over 200 ha the statute interfered with the basic constitutional right to private property and inheritance under Article 33 of the Constitution.

That entailed discrimination based on financial situation of each claimant. Besides, differentiation was also made between denationalization claimants who had already been given back the nationalized property exceeding 200 ha and those who had not yet been returned the agricultural lands and forests over 200 ha due to delay of competent organs' proceedings. Petitioner, therefore, proposed that the Court abrogate the challenged provision.

9. After it held a hearing in the Committee for Internal Policy, the National Assembly's Secretariat for Legislation and Legal Matters on 26 June 1996 explained that the reasons leading to the enactment of the challenged statute were presented to the public convincingly and clear enough. Such a decision was taken by the National Assembly because at the time when the statute was being enacted the overall range of possible violations of the ZDen and the Constitution was not yet known. The statute's only intent was to test the constitutionality and legality of certain denationalization proceedings. However, the opposite party argued that the challenged statute does not contradict the principles of a law-based state and separation of powers. It would be in contrast with the principle of representative democracy, if the legislator was bound to only amend or complete laws and to decide upon cessation of statutes being in force while at the same time not being empowered to take a milder measure, e.g. to suspend the statute's implementation. Since the challenged statute did not define new rights and also did not take them away but only restricted the implementation of a ZDen's single provision in a limited scope in cases where irregularities as to implementation proved to exist, according to the opposite party the principle of equality was not violated. The challenged statute affected only certain denationalization claimants yet in cases determined by the statute all affected were in an equal position. However, the legislator had justified reasons to suspend the statute's implementation.

B. - I.

10. The Constitutional Court joined all the petitions mentioned in Point A of this reasoning for joint consideration and decision. It follows from the petitions' contents and documents enclosed that all petitioners have standing to file petitions for the review of Article 1, Para. 1, Subparas. 1 and 4 of the ZZDZP. The Court, however, did not find any reasons to decide upon constitutionality of other provisions.

The conditions set in Para. 4 of Article 26 of the Constitutional Court Act (Official Gazette RS, No. 15/94 - hereinafter: ZUstS) were fulfilled. Thus, the Court accepted the petition and proceeded immediately to decide it on the merits.

11. The majority of petitioners believes that the challenged statute violates the principle of separation of powers, since the National Assembly as the legislative organ exceeded its powers.

12. For three years the challenged statute put under moratorium the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen which regulated the return of agricultural lands and forests through denationalization proceedings. In our legal system, the legislator had frequently used moratorium as a form for regulating specific situations and the Court had already decided upon the constitutionality of such statutes. Thus, in denationalization area, in decision No. U-I-140/94 dated 8 January 1995 (DecCC IV, 124), the Court held Article 7b of the Slovenian Compensation Fund Act the moratorium put on the implementation of the right to compensation. In that decision, the Court explained that such encroachments upon
constitutionally protected positions of petitioners are admissible only if the legislator paid regard to the principle of proportionality. Deciding upon how strict a measure to apply for the review of whether the legislator followed the principle of proportionality when adopted the challenged provisions, the Constitutional Court recognized to the legislator a relatively wide field of discretion when it came to transitional laws being the basis for creating a new economic-legal system and regulating the questions as to which the legislator neither had any experience nor could it search for an appropriate solution in comparable legislations.

13. The challenged statute suspending for certain claimants the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen does not violate the principle of separation of powers under Article 3, Para. 2 of the Constitution. The legislator is allowed to amend an already enacted statute only with a new statute. Such a statute is usually named an "act on amendments". However, that certainly does not mean that the legislator could not use any other form.

From the constitutional viewpoint, it is only important that the legislator passes an act of the same kind; in the case at hand - a statute. Therefore, the Constitutional Court reviewed the consistency of the challenged statute with the Constitution - above all, with its Articles 2, 14 and 33.

14. In its decisions the Constitutional Court specially protected denationalization claimants. There the Court payed regard especially to the purpose and meaning of denationalization. The ZDen was enacted as a result of political consensus aimed at redressing injustices inflicted by the State's past interference with private property, which the new Constitution placed among human rights and fundamental freedoms. By adopting the constitutional act on the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Slovenia - the Declaration of Independence (Official Gazette RS, No. 1-7/91)

Slovenia bound herself as a free democratic society to respect beside other fundamental human rights also the right to inviolability of property. Therefore, the Constitutional Court, in the case where the right to repurchase property collided with the right to ownerhisp, favored the right to ownership being the basis for the right to denationalization (U-I-95/91 dated 14 May 1992, DecCC I,35). The Court explicitly acknowledged such a view in decision U-I-22/95 dated 14 March 1996 (DecCC V,29) where it reasoned that the right of denationalization claimants, referring to the ban on companies' ownership transformation until the decision upon a motion to issue a temporary injunction becomes final, derives "from their specific property entitlements to their onetime property protected by constitutional law, originating from Article 33 of the Constitution and Protocol No. 1 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, and has precedence over the entitlements of companies or their workers to ownership transformation." In its decision No. U-I-119/94 dated 21 March 1996 (DecCC V,32), the Constitutional Court held that Article 125 of the Housing Act does not only violate the ownership right of those who had already become owners of denationalized apartments but also violate "the expectations based on the ZDen of those who claimed denationalized apartments in proper time and will become their owners when the denationalization decisions become final." Accordingly, the Court regarded the suspension to implement the denationalization of agricultural lands and forests, enacted in the challenged statute, as an interference with the right to own property under Article 33 of the Constitution.

15. To be able to review constitutionality of the challenged provisions, the Constitutional Court had to first find out the legislator's motives and ends to enact those provisions and then also judge whether the measures taken were justified. It follows that the challenged measures interfere with constitutionally protected entitlements of denationalization claimants originating from an important transitional statute.

That is why the reasons, motives, ends and goals of the legislator must be not only definable, justifiable and constitutionally legitimate but the measures taken thereupon must be in a democratic society indispensable because dictated by public needs. Yet legislative interventions or statutory solutions must be pursuant to the principle of proportionality appropriate and unavoidable for reaching a legislator's goal and proportionate to the value of planned legislative goals.

B. - II.

16. The process for enacting the challenged statute began after the bill was submitted directed to partially suspend the return of property to churches and other religious communities or orders save the return of sacral objects, wherein the suspenstion of implementation of Article 14 of the ZDen until the enactment of the Religious Communities Act (National Assembly Reporter, No. 19/95) was proposed. From the reasoning appended to the bill it followed that the statute was intended to delay denationalization in cases where claimants were churches and other religious communities, their institutions or orders. The reasons grounding such a bill were the following: - Concerning the laws on agrarian reform enacted by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, it was necessary to establish whether the church could claim the land back pursuant to Kingdom of Yugoslavia laws and whether the Roman-Catholic Church organizations can be considered domestic legal entities according to church law. In the bill's reasoning the process of secularization in Slovenia, the outline of how the Ljubljana Archdiocese became the forests' owner, and the question of consistency of a decree, by which the property of the Carniolian Religious Fund was turned over to the Ljubljana Archdiocese, with Yugoslav Kingdom agrarian reform laws, were put forward. Fear was expressed that the church, through the return of all real estate, might retrieve the position of feudal ecclestical lords what the European civilization had abolished a long time ago by secularization processes.

- Also, a special public interest to preserve natural treasures as public goods allegedly suspended the implementation of Article 14 of the ZDen. Process of forests' denationalization is allegedly about to change ownership structure of forests resulting in only 20% of public forests remained in Slovenia after denationalization completed, what means for Slovenia to be found on the bottom of the European countries's scale. The State shall be responsible for the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage, and shall prevent the economic interests of private institutions from being enforced in that area (Article 73 of the Constitution). In Article 16 the Environment Protection Act defined public good being a part of ecosystems of lands, forests etc. to be the ownership of the Republic or a local community. Nevertheless, the church would regain Jelovica, Pokljuka, Mežakla and a part of Triglav National Park.

17. At the second debate upon the said bill, deputy groups of three parties submitted a joint amendment proposing that the suspension of the return of property to churches and other religious communities was extended to the return of property to other persons - big landowners, persons for which it was disputable whether they were, or had an opportunity to be, compensated by foreign countries, and persons whose citizenship was controversial according to Para. 3 of Article 63 of the ZDen. As to its contents, the proposed amendment was substantially identical to the challenged statute. From the amendment's reasoning it followed that it was proposed from the reason because certain dilemmas recently appeared connected to the implementation of the ZDen which were not otherwise presented to the legislator neither at the time of the statute's enactment not at some later time. Those dilemmas or questions read as follows:

- The problem of return of property to former landed proprietors and renewed establishment of large estate in the Republic of Slovenia concerning the fact that the 1920 Act on Agrarian Reform was probably not entered in the land register although decisions upon taking of lands and forests from landed proprietors were issued and damages thus recovered. - Problems with establishing citizenship during the nationalization process and with implementing Article 10, Para. 2 of the ZDen because our archives do not keep appropriate documents by which the necessary facts for the implementation of the ZDen could be examined.

Furthermore, from the reasoning it follows that the amendment's submitters wished to achieve suspension of the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen with respect to certain categories of denationalization claimants so that state organs will be able to clarify the disputable states of facts and law. Therefore Paras. 3 and 4 of the submitted amendment were proposed, determining the duty of administrative units to send decisions, on the return of agricultural lands and forests and decisions on the grant of citizenship, to state prosecutor.

18. Accordingly, it follows that the challenged statute's goal was to achieve suspension of denationalization proceedings for certain categories of persons who filed their denationalization requests in due time, so that the situation and problems could be analyzed during the suspension and extraordinary legal remedies then filed if necessary. The statute was enacted after a long discussion in the National Assembly where problems were discovered and consequences defined resulting from denationalization being implemented. The discussion in the National Assembly was much influenced by the public. Mass media in general informed the public of the return of property to landed proprietors who mostly were not our citizens, and pointed out to the Yugoslav Kingdom agrarian reform on which basis large estates in Slovenia could have retained only 75 ha of cultivable land or 200 ha of land at large.2

19. Undoubtedly, the legislator is empowered to follow the implementation of the laws he enacted and to take appropriate measures in cases when major problems occur with regard to the implementation of those laws. Thus he is bound to all basic principles of a state governed by the rule of law. The principles of justice, legal certainty and trust in law require that statutes as well as general and abstract laws are enacted for a longer period of time. The ZDen was enacted as a "consequence of political consensus to redress the injustices inflicted during the post-war period by the state interference with ownership relations in the name of revolutional transformation of the then society and by the introduction of socialist social-economic relations and to settle accounts with foes of the then regime" (National Assembly Reporter, No. 7/91). The purpose and meaning of denationalization was not only to redress injustices but also to privatize former social property (Constitutional Court decision No. U-I-169/93, OdlUS III, 83).

Concerning its purpose, the ZDen is a systemic statute wherein basic principles of denationalization process were clearly defined. Consistently with the principles of a state governed by the rule of law, these principles can be altered only if conditions and circumstances referred to in Item 15 of this reasoning exist.

20. From the draft ZDen (National Assembly Reporter, No. 7/91 - ESA 299), which the Slovenian Assembly adopted on 19 March 1991, it followed that one of the most controversial questions was the return of agricultural lands and forests in nature - because the laws in force restricted the acquisition of ownership title on such real estate not only for non-farmers but for farmers as well. In the draft statute (Article 24), it was proposed that agricultural lands and forests be returned entirely only if claimants are farmers according to Article 4 of the Agricultural Lands Act; yet in all other cases only to the extent determined by the Agricultural Lands Act. An alternative was also proposed suggesting that the maximum of owned land should not be considered in denationalization. From the reasoning to the bill ZDen (NA Reporter, No. 21/91), it was clear that in preparing the bill the propounder considered Item 3 of constitutional amendment No. XCIX (coming into force with the promulgation on 20 February 1991 - Official Gazette RS, No. 21/91) which abolished those constitutional decisions that determined the maximum extent of ownership on agricultural lands and forests and decisions that excluded the ownership right on building land in towns and other similar settlements. As regards the said amendment, it is evident from the reasoning that proposed Article 27 provides only special conditions for the return of agricultural lands.

21. Consequently, it follows that by enacting the ZDen the legislator considered the question of maximum extent of ownership of land and did not decide to restrict the return of agricultural lands and forests though denationalization proceedings, although Item 3 of constitutional amendment XCIX provided that restrictions on ownership are regulated by statute.

22. Only sixteen days after the ZDen came into force a new constitution was adopted which in chapter on human rights and fundamental freedoms, in Article 33, included the right to private property and inheritance. Placing this right among constitutional human rights it meant that harmonization term Šprovided to put any of legislative measures which did not conform with the new Constitution in consistency with the same] under Article 1 of the Enabling Statute for the Implementation of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, applying to laws which restrict ownership right, lost its force. According to Para. 2 of the said enabling statute, proceedings to review constitutionality of laws were allowed to be commenced already before 31 December 1993, if a law encroaching upon human rights and fundamental freedoms was at stake. Thus, by decisions No. U-I-105/91 dated 23 April 1992 (DecCC I, 28) and No. U-I-122/91 dated 10 September 1992 (DecCC I, 56), the Constitutional Court abrogated provisions of the Building Lands Act and the Agricultural Lands Act which restricted or prohibited the ownership right on building lands, located in towns and other similar settlements, and on agricultural lands. The Court held that statutory provisions which generally restrict or prohibit the right to ownership are inconsistent with the new Constitution. It emphasized that the Constitution does not restrict ownership right (Article 33) but only makes the legislator possible in a statute to define the manner in which property is acquired and enjoyed so as to ensure its economic, social and environmental benefit (Article 67), or enables the State to take or limit the ownership right only in the public interest and under conditions determined by statute. The Court took the said position in decision No. U-I-57/92 dated 3 November 1994 (DecCC III, 117) abrogating the Act on Inheritance of Agricultural Lands and Private Farms. It specially stressed that the "land maximum" was abolished and that protection against crushing of medium size farms in not necessary for large farms - large estates where social benefit of property is not considered. All questions on denationalization of agricultural lands and forests bound by the land maximum had already been solved in the legislative proceedings, and the legislative solutions were therefore confirmed also in the Constitution and Constitutional Court decisions.

23. During the process of enacting the challenged statute a need emerged to answer the question whether Roman-Catholic Church organizations can be considered domestic legal entities or denationalization claimants, according to church law. In Article 14 the ZDen clearly provided that the right to the return of property pertained also to churches and other religious communities, their institutions and orders respectively which operated in Slovenia on the day that statute came into force. The Court already reviewed the above-said provision by decision No. U-I-25/92 dated 4 March 1993 (DecCC II, 23). In the reasoning of the said decision the Court replied to the questions raised during the legislative procedures in which the challenged statute was enacted. The Court reasoned: "The State and religious groups shall be separate (Article 7 of the Constitution). It is crucial for the separation system that church organizations and institutions are bound by state law and also dependent upon state laws when it comes to their capacity as legal entities. These subjects were both at the time when their property was nationalized and also until the Denationalization Act came into force according to the laws of that time treated as domestic legal entities, and are still treated like that by positive law (Act on Legal Position of Religious Communities in the Republic of Slovenia, Official Gazette SRS, No. 15/76 and 42/86 and Official Gazette RS, No. 22/91). Therefore, Article 14 of the Denationalization Act is not inconsistent with Article 68 of the Constitution, as unreasonably argued by petitioner GG Nazarje. Also, the Constitution does not limit the ownership right of anyone when it comes to the extent of property. Only the manner in which property is acquired and enjoyed so as to ensure the economic, social and environmental benefit of such property shall be regulated by statute (Article 67 of the Constitution). However, the question of church ownership on certain land or other real estate will be solved in a return of property procedure." Accordingly, in the said decision the Court took a position that church ownership on each particular real estate should be solved in a particular denationalization procedure, so that all church ownership that could possibly be controversial, what also includes all other denationalization claimants, should be solved in a particular denationalization procedure.3 Also, arguments presented in the supplement petition dated 9 September 1996 under Section A, Item 4 of this reasoning by petitioner, the Cistercian Abbey Stična, corresponds entirely to the afore- mentioned Constitutional Court decision.

B. - III.

24. Examining the Yugoslav Kingdom laws on agrarian reform and certain legal-historical literature4 it turned out that the reasons for adopting Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the challenged statute, which for three years suspends the implementation of the ZDen's Article 27 in all those cases where claimants request the return of more than 200 ha of agricultural land and forests, were groundless and presented in the legislative process as well as to the press and other media without being previously checked and carefully examined.

25. "Preliminary Orders", preparing the grounds for agrarian reform, published in the official gazette "Službene Novine" dated 27 February 1919 (hereinafter: Preliminary Orders) contained only those principles for solving the agricultural question that arose in the then political, economic and social conditions. Basic principles grounding the agrarian reform were already established in the official letter of the State SCS National Council on 14 November 1918, before the Slovenes joined the Kingdom of SCS. After the Kingdom SCS was proclaimed, regent Aleksandar Karadjordjević in his manifesto on agrarian reform on 6 January 1919 promised a "just" solution of the agricultural question. Preliminary Orders were the first legislative act covering the agrarian reform; in subsequent months and years there were many more laws that completed the basic principles contained in the Preliminary Orders. However, all those laws, as well as Preliminary Orders, had only provisional character - until the agricultural question would be finally regulated. This provisional state of affairs which was also called provisional arrangement or the state of provisional arrangement lasted until the Act on the Liquidation of the Agrarian Reform in Large Estates was enacted on 19 June 1931, and amended by decrees dated 5 December 1931, 24 June 1933, 5 May 1934 and 31 December 1934 (hereinafter: Liquidation Act).

The Preliminary Orders contained the principle determining that the agrarian reform should encompass all large estates, and as such all estates from 100 to 500 acres (57,5 to 287,5 ha) of cultivable land were proclaimed to be in Section 10, "according to the property and economic condition of a particular place".

In the Preliminary Orders, it was also enacted that compensation should be given for the taken land, providing that compensation and the manner of payment was left to be subsequently regulated by statute (Section 11). Section 14 provided that until the large estates, denoted in Sect. 10, are finally distributed the State will let them out on a temporary lease in smaller or larger complexes. As to the forests, Sect. 17 of the Preliminary Orders provided that "all larger forest complexes are becoming state property, so the farmers would retain the right in these complexes to tend and fell wood for heating and building." The question of compensation and regulation of farmers' rights was left to special statutes (Sect. 18). In the Decree Banning All Transfers and Encumbrances dated 21 July 1919 it was more precisely determined which large estates fall under the agrarian reform. On 20 May 1992, this Decree was changed into the Act Banning the Transfer and Encumbrance of Large Estates where two maximums were provided for certain area: one for cultivable land, the other for land in general (together with forests and pastures). To Slovenia maximum of 75 ha for cultivable land and 200 ha for land in general applied (Sect. 2, Item b). By the Decree on Four Year Lease of Large Estates dated 3 September 1920, on 4 July 1922 becoming a statute (Act on Four Year Lease), big landowners were bound to let out the land exceeding the allowed maximum on only a four year lease.

This Decree already provided in which cases to leave to a big landowner more land as determined by the maximum (e.g. to preserve agricultural and milk industry). The mandatory lease was extended through all that period until the Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform was enacted. In 1925, by the Financial Act dated 31 July 1925, facultative repurchase of land leased to persons concerned with agrarian reform was allowed.

The Minister appointed for implementing the agrarian reform was authorized to approve sales and transfers in the land register of that real estate falling under the agrarian reform. The possibility of facultative repurchase was extended until the parliament enacted the Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform.

During the provisional arrangement, the persons concerned with the agrarian reform could have been given the land subject to the agrarian reform only on lease. The ownership right, however, remained entered on behalf of the landed proprietor; only the ban on the transfer and encumbrance was registered.

Several sources report that when the provisional arrangement applied the joint area of large estates in Slovenia amounted to 200.000 ha of land and that by the time the Act on the Liquidation was passed 16.294 ha of cultivable and non- cultivable land was leased out.5 Pursuant to the Preliminary Orders, forests subject to expropriation should pass over to the temporary management by the State until the question of ownership and management of expropriated forests is finally solved by statute. However, during the time of provisional arrangement those provisions were not realized and the expropriation was not regulated until the Liquidation Act.

Therefore, the forests being part of large estates were not embraced by the areas to which the agrarian reform applied.5 The Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform brought a final legal solution to the agrarian reform during the time between the two World Wars. Above all, the state of affairs before the statute's enactment, type and amount of compensation and the final purchase of leased lands, were regulated. However, in the agrarian reform the Act on the Liquidation, mainly with 1933 amendment, introduced also pastures and forests. Differently from the provisional arrangement, beside a narrow and wide maximum, this statute included also supermaximum. Articles 15 and 16, regulating supermaximum, allowed numerous exceptions where an owner was permitted to have more land than provided by the narrow and wide maximum (e.g. Article 16, Para. 1 provided: "Large estates could also comprise land exceeding maximum as supermaximum, only if it is used for experimental farms to rear cattle, for stables, semen storages and specially well-organized exemplary farms for which it has to be professionally established that they benefit the national economy. The owner of such estate is bound by pre-emption right to hand over his crops to the Ministry of Agriculture.") From this provision's commentary it follows that supermaximum was allowed from general economic reasons. Thus, supermaximum applied also for large states owned by the State, self-management, church and other public institutions for their educational, humanitarian, religious and generally beneficial purposes (Article 17 read as follows: "To state, self-management and church large estates and large estates of other public institutions land to the extent of supermaximum can be allowed if necessary for their educational, humanitarian, religious and generally beneficial purposes, if there is any free land or that could be make free according to this statute. Restrictions under Sect. 16 of this statute do not apply to these supermaximums.") By the 1933 amendment to Article 17 a new paragraph (Sect. 4.a) was added, reading: "Church land which has not yet been dispensed can be expropriated upon a Ministry of Agriculture proposal confirmed by the Cabinet." From the above-said statutory provisions, it follows that the expropriation of church large estates (cultivable and non-cultivable land) was regulated by a special provision and was after the enactment of the Liquidation Act allowed only if approved by the Cabinet.

At the time of provisional arrangement the agrarian reform also applied to church large estates, yet a more extensive expropriation of these estates did not take place. Namely, during the agrarian reform's realization a question arose whether the expropriation of church land is constitutional.7 Additionally, the church also referred to the differences made as to the realization of the agrarian reform.8 A view prevailed that the question of church ownership would be finally arranged by entering into a concordat agreement with the Holy Seat.9 Also, the question of legal nature of religious treasures, that the new State succeeded after the disintegrated Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and which were also not included in the agrarian reform, remained unsolved.

The Act on Leasing Large Estates determined that only cultivable land and pastures as well as "forest land which was cultivated at that time" could be temporarily leased out. Therefore, under Article 12 of the Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform (amended in 1933) the aforementioned forest land (Para. 1) as well as (if necessary and according to an agreement made with the Minister for Forests and Mines) those lands located on predominantly forest grounds, which had been cultivated for more than five years (Para. 2), were embraced by the agrarian reform. Pursuant to Article 24 of the Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform, also the forests in Slovenia (the whole area of the Drava Banate) were comprised by the agrarian reform if exceeding 1000 ha. Only legal entities (municipalities, land communities, financial communes and groups of farmers as legal entities) could have been entitled to the land gathered through the agrarian reform process, if they needed forests for pasture, heating, building materials and other economic needs.

Additionally, the criterion of the integrity of business units and the needs of forest industry in other areas of a certain large estate was to be considered. Time limits were also determined in which subjects interested in receiving the forests were bound to file requests (time limit for making such a request was 30 days; time began to run when the statute came into force). Upon those requests the Minister for Economy (in agreement with the Minister for Forests and the Cabinet) was to decide in six months. Sect. 24, Para. 6 also provided that such a decision finally settled ("closed") the case; thereby as to all other forests the ban on the transfer and encumbrance was cancelled. Commentary to that article explained that those time limits were preclusive and could not be extended unless so provided by a special statute.

Under Article 10, Item 7 of the 1931 Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform forests and uncultivated lands as well as all other church large estate, which were not included in the agrarian reform when the statute came into force, were explicitly excluded from the agrarian reform. With the abrogation of Sect. 10, Item 7, and its 1933 amendment, also forests of church large estates (beside forests also non- cultivable lands and also other areas that were not yet expropriated by that time) were embraced by the agrarian reform. That abrogation meant that the church forests became to be treated like forests of large estates. The expropriation was based on Sect. 24 which was supplemented by two new paragraphs - Paras. 8 and 9 due to the (aforementioned) abrogation of Sect. 10, Item 7. Sect. 24, Para. 8 applied to the Slovenian large estate forests exceeding 1000 ha (new Para. 8 read as follows: "In the church large estates located in the Drava Banate forests and forestry land exceeding 1000 ha must be expropriated, according to Paras. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of that Section, within six months when this statute on amendments comes into force.").

However, Para. 9 regulated the expropriation of forests in other districts and it was amended twice - by 5 May and 31 December 1934 decrees. The regulation of forests' expropriation in "other districts" was limited to "at most 25% of those forest lands that in each estate all together exceed 1000 cadastral acres". In addition to this, other special conditions and time limits for filing and solving requests were also prescribed.

The ultimate time limit for solving decisions, 31 March 1935, was determined by the last amendment. After that date "the ban on the transfer and encumbrance of large estate forests entered in the land register had to be cancelled".

The consequences resulted from the inclusion of large estate and church forests in the framework of the agrarian reform were according to separate sources various. Erić (page 469) alleged that in Slovenia 23.556 ha of large estate forests were expropriated, and that those expropriated forests were managed by the "Temporary State Administration of the Expropriated Large Estate Forests" in Ljubljana until the second World War broke out. Also, Erić (pages 471-472) viewed statistical data to be unreliable and thought that the reform's final results in Slovenia, Croatia and Vojvodina did not show at all a clear picture of how large areas were taken from foreigners, churches, administrative municipalities and how much land they managed to keep. Marentič in his treatise, Slovenian Village under Capitalistic Bondage, written in 1935-36 after he had completed his studies at the Agricultural Faculty in Zagreb, alleged that out of 144.627 ha about 40.000 ha of forests were expropriated.

Dr. Čepič (page 30), on the other hand, believed 31.922 ha of forests were included in the agrarian reform.

The Liquidation Act also provided for compensation given for expropriated lands (Chapter III). The owners were compensated by 4% bonds for which the State standed security (Sect. 39).

The bonds were meant to be redeemed in 30 years and to have all the benefits pertaining to state bonds (Sect. 40). Agrarian subjects were expected to pay for land dispossessed to their benefit in 30 years with the interest at five per cent per annum rate. For the security of payment and until the final payment a mortgage was created on the expropriated real property to the State's benefit (Sect. 41). The statute also let the agrarian subjects who obtained the land according to the rules in effect before the new statute came into force, free to stipulate the price and pay with the land's owner. Parties could have entered into such agreements as into sales contracts which were necessary to have been confirmed by the Minister of Agriculture, but only if an expropriation decision had not been issued previously (Para. 36). Compensation was set in an expropriation decision (Sect. 54). Sect. 56 defined the contents of an expropriation decision. Moreover, in Para. 7 that section provided for an appeal against an expropriation decision to be sent to the competent royal banate's administration which reached a final decision. Sect. 70 also provided that all decisions issued applying the Liquidation Act were to be reached pursuant to the statute and upon discretion, and that no complaints, according to the laws which govern the national council and the administrative courts, were allowed against those decisions.

The statute also regulated the entry of an expropriation decision into the land register. Sect. 59 laid down that the commission for liquidation of the agrarian reform sent a final expropriation decision to the competent land register court, provided that agrarian subjects had paid 2% contribution in the colonization fund raised by the Ministry of Agriculture. Under Sect. 44, Para. 3 agrarian subjects were bound to pay to that fund "4% of the established compensation in cash, and out of this amount 2% in 30 days from the day when they received the expropriation decision. If the contribution was not paid in due time, the agrarian subject was considered to give up the land.

The second part of the contribution, 2 %, was determined to be paid in two years." Furthermore, as to all land-registry transfers of the land from former owners to agrarian subjects the pre-emption right to the benefit of the Privileged Agrarian Bank was to be entered in the land register, provided that it will cease to apply in 10 years after the expropriation is realized.

26. The outline of the agrarian reform's regulation shows that the reform introduced in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was an unique measure, and that for the implementation of that measure areas of cultivable land and forests were determined which the reform could not embrace. To determine 200 ha maximum or 1000 ha of forests for the needs of the agrarian reform's implementation it did not mean to set land maximum in that meaning as defined by the post-war Republic of Yugoslavia laws which prohibited any further acquisition of land beyond that maximum. The Liquidation Act aimed at closing the agrarian reform question - resulting in expropriated land distributed among the agrarian claimants. Yet after the agrarian reform was completed the Act did not foreclose the acquisition of title to land for the future. To declare land to be large estate under the Liquidation Act "title to land as entered in land registers on 27 February 1919 was decisive" (Sect. 8, Para. 1).

Unfounded were the reasons leading the legislator to suspend denationalization for only those entitled persons who claimed back their property over 200 ha. Those reasons do not meet any of the conditions set to allow interference with constitutional rights of denationalization claimants. Although deficient in its implementation, the agrarian reform introduced by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was legally relevant only insofar as carried out through final expropriation decisions. That is why it is impossible to refer to land maximums defined by the then statute for its provisions ceased to apply. After the agrarian reform was completed and the bans on alienation of real property (if occurred) erased from the land register there was no land maximum restriction anymore for acquisition of title to land.

27. As an important reason for the challenged statute's enactment a general interest for preservation of forests as the national treasure was put forward in the legislative process.

Slovenia was allegedly expected to retain only 20 % of public forests after denationalization completed.

At the 15 February 1996 session the National Assembly adopted the Development Program for Slovenian Forests (Official Gazette RS, No. 14/96). The program defines the national policy of forests' management, directions for preservation and development of forests and conditions for their exploitation or multipurpose use (Introduction, Section 1). In the program the National Assembly included directions concerning the ownership and increase of a public forests' share (Chapter 4, Point 12).

Also, it was found out in the program that probably 80 % of all Slovenian forests will be privately owned once the denationalization is completed (Chapter 2, Item 6). It was emphasized in the directions that encouraged by the public interest the State applies itself to increase the share of public forests and will also gradually strive in the future to repurchase denationalized forests. Although in the program the directions encouraging the increase of public forests supported by the public interest were included, only a gradual repurchase of forests, and not restriction of their return through denationalization procedures, were foreseen. Time restriction is not an appropriate measure to increase the extent of public forests, since it only postpones the problem's solution to the detriment of denationalization claimants. Such a restriction delays not only the creation of a private but also a public forest fund which cannot be enlarged in any manner by such a measure. Therefore the Constitutional Court held the suspension of denationalization of forests over 200 ha large illegitimate, because the public interest so demanded.

28. Reducing partial suspension of the denationalization of agricultural lands and forests exceeding 200 ha, the legislator without a justifiable reason caused discrimination among denationalization claimants and thereby beside the principle of a state governed by the rule of law (Article 2 of the Constitution) violated the general principle of equality before the law under Para. 2 of Article 14 of the Constitution. Thus the claimants affected by the challenged statute are in an unequal position compared to those claimants who are entitled to the return of up to 200 ha of agricultural lands and forests, and those who were already given back the lands and forests in a greater extent, over 200 ha, by final decisions. The legislator should have based its different treatment of denationalization claimants on definable, justifiable, and constitutionally legitimate reasons. Also, employing this measure the legislator interfered without a constitutionally legitimate reason with basic principles adopted by the ZDen (see under B. II, Points 19 - 22 of this Decision). Applying its general review, the Constitutional Court established that the suspension of returning of agricultural lands and forests exceeding 200 ha is contrary to the Constitution. Thus, further constitutional evaluation of the challenged measure was not necessary, also from a view of the criteria referred to in Item 15 of this reasoning.

By the suspension of denationalization of agricultural lands and forests, the principle of trust in law being a necessary element of a state governed by the rule of law was violated as well.

The ZDen ensures the return of all nationalized property under Articles 1 and 2 of the ZDen in accord with general conditions set by the ZDen concerning the return in kind. It also determines the obligation of a first instance competent organ to issue a decision in one year at the latest after a properly composed denationalization request submitted (Article 58, Para. 1 of the ZDen). In the case of most denationalization procedures this time limit has already expired. Yet by suspension provided in the challenged statute this limit is still being extended.

From the cited reasons, the Constitutional Court abrogated Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the challenged statute. The Court decided that the abrogation take effect within six months from the day this decision is published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia. Thereby, the Constitutional Court offered to the legislator an opportunity to examine again whether there are any other definable, justifiable and constitutionally legitimate reasons to suspend the return of lands and forests as to their extent, or at the same time to examine closely current regulation of the return of lands and forests subject to denationalization procedures, and eventually to amend it. To treat individual denationalization claimants differently or even to refuse to recognize the denationalization right to certain groups of the nationalized property's former owners would mean to pass constitutional muster only where the conditions laid down in Point 15 of this reasoning were met.

The Constitutional Court put forward the need to evaluate whether the return of large estates of feudal origin was consistent with the state arrangement as established in the Republic of Slovenia. Historical sources point out that in Slovenia in the time of nationalization the largest estates were of feudal Austro-Hungarian origin11 which the Kingdom of Yugoslavia agrarian reform, although anti-feudally directed, could not have entirely embraced.12 Besides, it is necessary to consider that large estate originating from the former feudal relationships is by nature not compatible with the notion of republic as a state arrangement and with the notion of a democratic state. Furthermore, it is also important to know that churches and religious communities play the role of generally beneficial institutions and have a particular position within our legal system. Therefore in cases where they appear as denationalization claimants they cannot be equated with the large estates of feudal origin or the property relations deriving from historic feudal relations. Such views were presented during the National Assembly debates when the challenged statute was being enacted. Also, with the large estates of feudal origin those large estates resulted from a free enterprise initiative cannot be equaled. To protect the trust in law it is urgent that the legislator take immediate measures and remove the uncertainty done to all those denationalization claimants who claimed the return of lands and forests over 200 ha. The Court opines that six months time limit, running from the day of this decision's publication in the Official Gazette on, was for the legislator enough time to study the questions raised in connection with the return of agricultural lands and forests after the ZDen's enactment, and the questions which the Court pointed out in this decision.

Regarding those questions, the legislator may enact appropriate legislation where it establishes that the measures would meet the conditions laid down in Point 15 of this reasoning.

29. In connection with preparative arrangements for possible amendments to the ZDen, the Constitutional Court explained that by decision No. U-I-10/92 dated 5 November 1992 (OdlUS I, 79) it abrogated Article 92 of the ZDen which provided for the return of property seized in criminal proceedings, that became final until 31 December 1958, the application of ZDen provisions also if the confiscation of property was reversed in reopened proceedings. Yet the Court reaching such a decision did not exclude any other regulation of the return of seized property which is now being given back pursuant to Article 145 of the Punishment Enforcement Act. By the abrogation decision the Court particularly did not foreclose a possible different regulation of the State's liability for damages in such cases.

The Court believed that the differentiation would be constitutionally admissible only under conditions laid down in Item 15 of this reasoning. First of all, it would be necessary to define what does it mean to award damages against the unjust sentences passed until 31 December 1958 by courts of the former non-democratic system dominated by the political party's monopoly. Recent legal and historical surveys based on the study of primary sources from historical archives show that the then courts were not part of the independent and impartial judicial authority. On the contrary, they were rather a tool used to implement the revolution, "a whip in the people's hands", "an efficient means to destroy national mischief- makers", "a combative organ for the persecution of class enemy", and as such subordinated to the administrative apparatus and the communist party's monopoly.13 Therefore it is necessary to evaluate whether it is still legitimate to differentiate between the removal of consequences regarding the ownership's deprivation by the courts and by the administrative organs.

Both were just tools in the communist party's hands aimed at systematic deprivation of ownership according to its revolutionary program. Thus, hardly any individual excesses by state organs occurred in that time (what would justify a special statutory regulation for such cases). Operation of the then criminal courts and administrative organs was rather harmonic and politically directed.

Additionally, it is important to evaluate whether the Republic of Slovenia is capable to redress the injustices entirely. That means not only to return the seized property but also to compensate for lost profits and immaterial damage, what the ZDen does not provide for denationalization claimants. Also, the Redress of Injustices Act leaves the regulation as to the amount of compensation to a special statute, which is ready for the second hearing in the parliament, and where a restriction was proposed as to compensation for immaterial damages. That is why the Court pointed out a need to reconsider various types of the return of property seized in criminal proceedings that had become final until 31 December 1958.

30. In case No. U-II-119/96 dated 6 June 1996, the Constitutional Court called attention to a too slow state organs' proceedings in denationalization cases. Here the Court repeats its warning and asks all state organs to speed up the proceedings in cases of the return of property. However, it is necessary to also ensure that those denationalization claimants, whose property was taken by criminal judgements and who instead of filing requests under the ZDen decided to enter claims according to the Criminal Procedure Act and the Punishment Enforcement Act - and thelegislator can change or equate (if so decides) this possibility with the return of property according to the ZDen -, do not come in an equal position regarding the speed of solving their petitions compared to those claimants who filed their requests pursuant to the ZDen. It is to consider that judicial proceedings are on the average longer than administrative proceedings and that parties before the courts cannot appeal because a state organ did not reach a decision in due time, as it is provided in the administrative proceedings.

It is in the public interest that all proceedings of the return of seized property are completed as soon as possible. Besides, it is important to know that because of lasting proceedings additional high costs are caused to persons subject to denationalization who will have to pay compensation for their claimants' inability to use the property until the proceedings are completed.

B. - IV.

31. Petitioners Karolina Hubmayer, Antonija Dolenc and Carl Graf de Villavicencio - Margheri challenge Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the challenged statute, which for three years suspended the implementation of Article 27 of the ZDen in a case where the competent administrative organ by a declaratory decision pursuant to Article 63 of the ZDen decided that in time of nationalization the claimant was a Yugoslav citizen.

32. Article 63, Para. 3 of the ZDen authorizes competent organs for internal affairs (administrative units) to reach a declaratory decision on denationalization claimant's citizenship, if he was not entered in the citizenship register.

Under Article 9, Para. 1, denationalization claimants shall be only those persons who were Yugoslav citizens at the time when their property was nationalized, and who were granted that citizenship by statute or international agreement after 9 May 1945. That is why numerous declaratory decisions were reached in cases where parties were not entered in the citizenship register. From the data provided by the Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition, on 14 June 1996, it follows that a declaratory decision on citizenship was issued for 1.504 entitled persons whereas for 1.397 entitled persons a procedure for issuing such a decision was instituted. Information about the realization of National Assembly denationalization resolutions, passed in connection with the discussion about the transformation of social property (Reporter, No. 53 dated 7 December 1995 - EPA 1148), shows that the National Assembly already before the challenged statute was enacted discussed the question of control over the legality of issued administrative decisions in denationalization proceedings. Discussing the challenged statute's bill, the deputies pointed out that positive declaratory decisions on citizenship were not subjected to the review of legality and that it is thus necessary to examine all those decisions against which no legal remedy was submitted. Moreover, the deputies requested from the Government the analysis of laws applying to denationalization proceedings.

Such an analysis would help the National Assembly to decide whether to amend the denationalization proceedings, or not.

33. The Constitutional Court established that the legislator's goals at the enactment of the challenged subparagraph were clearly defined, objectively justifiable and constitutionally legitimate. They were grounded in the notion that in defining who is to be considered a denationalization claimant under Article 9 of the ZDen different practice and interpretation of the laws on citizenship occur. They were also based on the fact that concerning the data brought forward by the media, as well as by the deputies themselves when discussing the challenged statute, denationalization process was to be suspended in these cases. That such findings and assumptions of the legislator were legitimate it follows primarily from what the competent state organs established soon after the challenged statute's enactment. From the Government Information on the National Assembly Resolutions' Realization Concerning Denationalization (Reporter, No. 7 dated 7 March 1996) it follows that the Government itself also finds out that it is necessary to review all those positive declaratory decisions against which no legal remedy was filed. Also, it follows that the Government reported that for the realization of this review new officials will be employed and conditions created for their immediate inclusion in the solving of all proceedings within the sphere of action of the Department for Personal Conditions at the Ministry of Interior. Thus the Government passed a resolution to employ 10 professionally trained lawyers and to also provide required money from the budget. In its tenth report on the ZDen's implementation (Reporter, No. 9/96 - EPA 1409), the Government informed that until 20 February 1996 the Ministry of Interior reviewed 300 files, that in nine cases it found irregularities concerning the evaluation of conditions defined in Article 35, Para. 2 of the 1948 FLRY Citizenship Act, and that in the said cases the Ministry will take appropriate measures, pursuant to statute. From the supplement report to the Tenth Report on the ZDen's Implementation adopted by the National Assembly Commission for Supervision of the Social Property's Ownership Transformation, dated 5 June 1996 (EPA 1409), it followed that the Ministry of Interior reviewing decisions on the grant of citizenship established that in 59 cases first instance organs made declaratory decisions on citizenship in contrast to substantive law provisions.

34. As regards declaratory decisions reached according to Article 63, Para. 3 of the ZDen, the state prosecutor's office provided an additional and important professional opinion.

Namely, pursuant to Para. 4 of the challenged statute, state prosecutors, according to their statutory authorizations, are bound in cases determined by statute to file appropriate legal remedies against decisions of suspension based upon the challenged statute. Thus the State Prosecutor's Office in report No. Tu 112/96 - 1, dated 29 March 1996, which was sent to the National Assembly, treated numerous legal questions and problems that arose in connection with the establishment of citizenship under Article 63, Para. 3 of the ZDen. According to the State Prosecutor's Office, an unsolved question of who is to be considered a party in proceedings of the establishment of citizenship caused numerous irregularities. Furthermore, questions that arise in conjunction with Article 9, Para. 2 and Article 12 of the ZDen will also have to be solved. As well, before the Constitutional Court the proceedings for review of the constitutionality of Articles 9, 11 and 12 of the ZDen are going on, and the Court will decide the constitutionality of the said provisions separately.

35. All the said data confirm that the legislator had enough definable, objectively justifiable and constitutionally legitimate reason to interfere with the constitutional rights of denationalization claimants. Furthermore, the Court holds that the suspension under Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the challenged statute is an appropriate and necessary measure for reaching the legislator's goal. During the suspension the legislator decided to study the situation in this field and upon such an analysis to prepare suitable statutory solutions. As pointed out frequently, the reasons for differentiation as to the return of nationalized property must be definable, objectively justified, constitutionally legitimate and absolutely necessary in a democratic society (Item 15 of this reasoning). On this occasion, the Court calls attention to the necessary study of possibility to differently treat denationalization claimants who were in time of expropriation Yugoslav citizens and who request the return of large estates of feudal origin. Those claimant left the country after the World War II. They soon gained foreign citizenship and were thus able to avoid permanent and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the then communist system. On the contrary, they enjoyed basic human rights and freedoms - particularly freedom of expression, right of political association, right of free enterprise, and all other rights of which were those who stayed in the then country deprived.

The Constitutional Court holds that by suspension the legislator nevertheless interfered with constitutional rights of denationalization claimants, yet this measure corresponds to the value of the goal pursued - to achieve the respect of constitutionality and legality in denationalization proceedings. Therefore the Court in Point 2 of this decision's holding established that Article 1, Para. 1, Subpara. 1 of the challenged statute is constitutional.

36. Especially, the Court was to evaluate whether the three year suspension was proportionate to the goal pursued. The challenged statute provides for suspension of the ZDen's Article 27 implementation for three years. Considering discussion that was going on during the legislative procedure and other legislative materials, it cannot be said that exactly the three year time limit was crucial to achieve the statute's goal. In the legislative procedure various time limits were proposed - one, two and three years. The principle of a state governed by the rule of law requires that the measures taken by the legislator that interfere with the implementation of a certain statute, and leaves those who claim their rights upon such a statute in uncertainty, are limited to the shortest time possible. With the challenged statute, it is necessary to consider that the legislator extended the time limit for issuing denationalization decisions which in the case of majority of claimants already expired. Namely, in Article 58, Para. 1 the ZDen provided for the one year time limit for issuing a denationalization decision on the first level. The Constitutional Court in decision No. U-II-119/96, dated 6 June 1996 (Official Gazette RS, No. 36/96), deciding a jurisdictional dispute in a denationalization case, pointed out too slow proceedings on the part of the organs in charge of denationalization. Therefore the Court holds that the three year time limit determined without a certain definable reason is unproportionate to the challenged statute's established goals.

From the said information, it follows that the competent ministries started intensive work in this area, according to the Government resolutions on the challenged statute's realization and the National Assembly resolutions passed when the challenged statute was enacted. Accordingly, the Court believes that the three year time limit is not proportionate to the statute's goal and protected rights of denationalization claimants. Thus in Item 4 of this decision's holding the Court decided to abrogate Article 1, Para. 1 of the challenged statute with the postponed effect of six months, insofar as the three year time limit suspending the implementation of the ZDen's Article 27 is also provided under Para. 1, Subpara. 4 of the challenged statute.

37. Beside the above-said reasons, defining the time limit the Constitutional Court also considered that the ZDen does not decline denationalization claimants the right to compensation according to general rules of tort law, because they were prevented to use or manage property and because they maintained real estate until the day they entered a full denationalization request, if this request was filed after the ZDen came into effect; thus also during the time when the return of property is still suspended by the challenged statute. Within that time limit the legislator may regulate by a statute all questions that occur in connection with Para. 1, Subparas. 1 and 4 of the challenged statute. When the time limit defined in Item 4 of the holding expires both decisions cited in Items 1 and 3 of this holding will ceased to apply in the said extent.

C.

38. The Constitutional Court, composed of Justices: dr. Tone Jerovšek, President, and dr. Peter Jambrek, mag. Matevž Krivic, mag. Janez Snoj, dr. Janez Šinkovec, dr. Lovro Šturm, Franc Testen, dr. Lojze Ude, and dr. Boštjan M. Zupančič, made this decision on the basis of Articles 21 and 43 of the ZUstS. The decision was reached unanimously. Justices Krivic, Šinkovec, Ude and Zupančič provided their concurring opinions.



President of the Constitutional Court:
dr. Tone Jerovšek



Footnotes:
1 ... The Constitutional Court may also evaluate the constitutionality and legality of other provisions of this or some other general act whose constitutionality or legality have not been challenged, if such provisions are mutually related or if this is absolutely necessary to resolve the case.
Constitutional Court Act, Art. 30. (translator's footnote).
2 Nedelo, 17 Dec 1995 - Sunday Reportage: Counts Thurns from Pliberg Castle Awaiting their Carinthian Forests (Majda Struc); Does the Forests Return Us to the Times of Feudal Lords? (Marjeta Šoštarič)
Mag, No. 36/1995 - week's theme - Run, the Count Is Coming.
Delo, 5 Dec. 1995 - Who Owns the Carinthian Forests? (Ivan Praprotnik)
Republika, 12 Dec. 1995: The Slovenian Forests Are Hostages of the Coalition (Mateja Bertoncelj)
Republika, 18 Dec. 1995: The Return of Forests Stirs Up the Public - the State Will Be Left with Only One Fifth of All Forests.
Delo, 12 Dec. 1995: The Return of Forest Estates to Foreigners Could Be the Start of the Game of Dominoes.
3 In mass media and during the debates held in the National Assembly doubts were raised about the constitutionality of a decree having the force of statute that governed the transfer of property of religious treasures to the ownership and management of the Catholic Church (Official Gazette of the Royal Administration of the Drava Banate dated 17 May 1939). In Kingdom of Yugoslavia the issuing of decrees having force of statute was very much spread out. By the 1927/28 statute governing state finances the executive gained extensive power; so by decrees it regulated the matters which were formerly regulated by statute. From the time the so-called 1937 bestowed constitution came into force this practice was continued and extended. After 1937 the administration assumed almost entire state normative function. The Assembly in fact was only adopting budgets by financial statutes which comprised the widest authorizations possible. Upon such authorizations individual Ministers or the Government (Cabinet) passed numerous decrees having force of statute, which regulated the entire legal system, also by way of replacing and removing former statutes (Mustafa Kamarić: Federal Constitutional Power for Passing Decrees Having Force of Statute, Volume of Sarajevo Law School, XX, 1972, Sarajevo, p. 29). In his treatise on judicial review of decree, Krbek precisely analyzed the legal basis for issuing a decree having force of statute in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia according to 1931 Constitution. Krbek believed that this regulation was analogous to the then French constitutional regulation. According to Krbek, the use of decrees having force of statute was to be interpreted as customary law, as it applies in French law. Krbek ascribed a relative quick enforcement of this custom to the fact that the then Yugoslav courts did not practice the judicial review of statutes. (Ivo Krbek: Judicial Review of Decree, Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb 1939, p. 32). However, in his commentary to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia Constitution (Yugoslav Constitutional Law, Belgrade, 1934) dr. Laza Kostić said that the legislator still considered to have authority to pass decrees having force of statute or legal decrees, and that it could not be find out why were those provisions, which comprised such authorizations, left out of the constitution. Kostić opined that it was the most justly to establish the legislator's will following the rules of legal interpretation. Based on the above-outlined legal regulation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Decree on the Transfer of the Catholic Church's Religious Treasures to the Ownership and Administration of the Catholic Church is considered as to its contents to be a legal decree which differed from the statute in that it was passed by administration authority according to statutory authorization. Its contents was generally defined by the 1939/40 financial statute which in Sect. 35, It. 8 clearly described what was to be regulated by that decree.
4 1. Preliminary Orders for the Preparation of Agrarian Reform, Official Journal dated 27 February 1919;
2. Agrarian Reform, Decrees, Commands and Notices, Issue of the Ministry for Agrarian Reform of the Kingdom SHS, Belgrade 1920;
3. Act on the Liquidation of the Agrarian Reform in Large Estates with Commentary and Necessary Statutes on Agrarian Reform, Belgrade 1931;
4. Act on Amendments to the Act on Liquidation of the Agrarian Reform in Large Estates dated 19 June 1931, Official Gazette of the Royal Administration of the Drava Banate for 1931, Year II;
5. Act on Amendments to the Act on Liquidation of the Agrarian Reform in Large Estates dated 19 June 1931, with amendments to that statute dated 5 December 1931, Official Gazette of the Royal Administration of the Drava Banate, Ljubljana, 12 July 1933;
6. Two Decrees on Amendments to the Act on Liquidation of Agrarian Reform in Large Estates dated 19 June 1931, with amendments dated 5 December 1931 and 24 June 1933, Official Gazette of the Royal Administration of the Drava Banate dated 26 May 1934 and 12 January 1935;
7. dr. Milivoje Erić: Agrarian Reform in Yugoslavia 1918 - 1941, Sarajevo 1958;
8. Sergij Vilfan: Slovenian Legal History, Ljubljana 1961;
9. Albin Prepeluh: Our Great Social Problem Agrarian Reform, Ljubljana 1933;
10. Fran Erjavec: Agricultural Question in Slovenia, Ljubljana, 1928;
11. Economic and Social History of Slovenes, History of Agrarian Branches, II. volume, published by Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, 1980;
12. Janez Marentič, Engineer: Slovenian Village Under Capitalistic Oppression;
13. Dr. Branko Čepič: Agrarian Reform and Colonization in Slovenia (1945 - 1948), 1995;
15. Dr. Rado Kušej: Religious Treasure and Patronal Burdens, Ljubljana Diocesan Journal, 1928, No. 7 and 8; page 73 and next 5 Dr. Čepič, page 28 and dr. Erić, page 454, Table I 6 Albin Prepeluh, page 14, established that the agrarian reform here, before the Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform was enacted, did not achieve its social and national purpose, least of all in Slovenia, because it did not embrace the major part of large estate land, i.e. forests.
7 Dr. Rado Kušej: Constitutional Limitations of Agrarian Reform, page 246 and next
The author of that article believed that the bill statute on agrarian reform was as to church estate clearly
unconstitutional. He emphasized that Article 43 of the Constitution, which allowed the expropriation in social interest, applied solely to capitalistic large estate, and certainly not to public benefit institutions - that churches are undoubtedly - and that these public institutions must be excluded from the agrarian reform.
8 Erić, page 327, also asserted that by a Minister for Agrarian Reform decision an entire estate in the extent of 8.012 cadastral acres was left to the Zagreb Capitol.
Referring to the Agricultural News No. 24 of 1929, on page 49 Marentič wrote that in case of the Ljubljana Diocese which is over 24.000 ha large only 80 ha was taken for agrarian claimants.
9 Kušej, Constitutional Limitations of Agrarian Reform, on page 262, stated:
"Concerning the Catholic Church there was, and probably still exists, the intent to define the limits of autonomy in a special agreement reached with the Roman Seat." On necessity to regulate the Roman Catholic Church's position in a State, Kušej spoke also in his article "Religious Treasures and Patronal Relations" dated 10 October 1928, where he also discussed individual provisions of the outline concordat that was being prepared in that time.
10 In his article "Religious Treasure and Patronal Relations" Dr. Kušej explained the dispute occurred in connection with the payment of patronal obligations of the Carniolian Religious Treasure (one fifth of expenses for repairing the parish church in Hotič) and pointed out that the Government should hand over the religious treasure to the bishops if it does not have funds to cover the catholic cult. However as long as the State manages the religious treasure to its benefit it has to fulfil all the obligations imposed by statute. The author took up a position that the religious treasure has never assumed the patronal burdens as canonical patron but as a patron in the sense of former Austro-Hungarian legislation, according to which patronage means a public burden that no one can get rid of without a special buying back, even if one renounces his patronal rights (page 86-87).
The Liquidation Act in its final provisions (Sect. 62) regulated the question of patronal rights and obligations of the landed proprietors vis-a-vis the church. That statute recognized to the church the right to compensation in the case where the landed proprietor did not want to keep patronal rights and obligations affixed to the land he was given at his disposal.
The question of the religious treasure's ownership was legally solved not until the 1939/40 Financial Act (Official Gazette of the Royal Administration of the Drava Banate dated 29 April 1939) was enacted. In Sect. 35, It. 8 that statute authorized the Minister of Justice, provided that the Cabinet agreed, to pass a decree having force of statute to transfer the religious treasure of the Catholic Church to the ownership and management of the Catholic Church, and to prescribe the supreme state control over the management of that property and more precise provisions on conveyance and management. On the basis of the said explicit statutory authorization, the Minister of Justice Dr. Ružić passed a decree having force of statute on the transfer of religious treasures belonged to the Catholic Church to the ownership and management of the Catholic Church (Official Gazette of the Royal Administration of the Drava Banate dated 17 May 1939), which was afterwards expressly confirmed by the Cabinet. It was provided that the property of an individual religious treasure was to be transferred to the name of a competent ordinary's office by way of a Minister of Justice decree on the transfer of property to the Catholic Church's ownership. That decree was according to Article 9 the legal basis for entry of ownership right in the name of a competent ordinary's office. In Article 10 of that decree an exception was made from Articles 7 and 8, that defined which ordinary's office is competent for taking over the property of religious treasures; and as a competent organ for taking over of the Carniolian Religious Treasure only the Ljubljana Diocese was determined.
11 Dr. Čepič, page 113 - 114, alleged:
- "According to the criteria concerning agrarian reform from the period between the two World Wars, there were about 200 large estates in Slovenia. The joint area of those amounted to 206.581 hectares. Out of this number, the majority of large estates were estates in a narrow sense: private estates, fifteen of them belonged to the church, individual monasteries and both dioceses: Ljubljana's and Maribor's; however seventeen of them belonged to firms and joint stock companies. 80% of large estate land was privately owned. At this the national origin of an owner is also important. The majority of estates were owned by non-Slovenes. According to the 1922 count of the population, the majority were Germans - 91%, 9% were Hungarians and 7% Italians. Following this count 80 of all landed proprietors were Slovenes."
- "In the case of these three groups of dispossessed proprietors mainly forest large estates were at stake. Namely, a little bit less than three quarters of these (three) owners' expropriated land was forest."
- "Privately owned large estates were the biggest large estates in Slovenia. They were of German origin and mostly owned by non-Slovenes, descendants of German, Italian and Hungarian noble families. These were the most famous feudal families who had lived in Slovenia and had for a long time influenced the history of Slovenia."
12 Prepeluh, pages 67 -77.
- on page 76 he alleged that: "Pursuant to Sect. 24 of the Act on the Liquidation of Agrarian Reform dated 19 June 1931, the Government in Slovenia dispossessed a part of large estate forests, mainly those owned by foreign feudalists:" Next came the data on the expropriated forests of the Drava Banate with the names of landed proprietors.
Erić, on pages 177 -190, separately discussed the view of feudal landed proprietors and the view of landed proprietors on the agrarian reform.
13 Dr. Lovro Šturm: On Violation of Human Rights and Fundamental freedoms in the Area of Public Administration in Slovenia, Public Administration, No. 3, 1996; p. 307 and the following; Dr. Lovro Šturm: Background of the Slovenian Judicature, 1945 - 1950: Contributions to the History and Explanations of the Background of the Trials in Slovenia after the Communists Seized Power in 1945 (Collection of materials from 1945 - 1950, Ljubljana 1950, Vol. I, p. 1-350, Vol. II, p. 351 - 633.
Individual copies are kept by:
- National University Library in Ljubljana, book No. 449819 II/1-2,
- University Library of Maribor, book No. II 38987/1-2, - University of Ljubljana Law School Library, book No. 99.862, 99.863,
- Slovenian Constitutional Court Library, book No. 5499/1, 5499/2,
- Institute for Recent History Library, book No. II/978, - Central Judicature Library at the Supreme Court RS, book No. B 2439/1 and B 2439/2.
Type of procedure:
review of constitutionality and legality of regulations and other general acts
Type of act:
statute
Applicant:
Roman Catholic Dioceses of Maribor and others
Date of application:
16.04.1996
Date of decision:
05.12.1996
Type of decision adopted:
decision
Outcome of proceedings:
annulment or annulment ab initio
Document:
AN01321