INS Association vs. Central Elections Committee
On 23 May 2001, the Institute for National Studies Association served
an application in writing to the Chairperson of the Central Elections
Committee, requesting access to information related to the computer processing
of the data from the parliamentary elections held from 1991 to 2001, as
specified in five items.
Within the time limits prescribed by law, which expired on 11 June 2001,
the Association received no reply in the form provided by law, i.e. a
The implied refusal of CEC was appealed before SAC. The case was heard
in a public session on 14 June 2001. A ruling was issued on 26 June 2001
to drop the case and refer it to the Sofia City Court as the competent
jurisdiction. It was not registered in the alphabetical directory of the
Sofia City Court as of 2 November 2001.
Arguments of the Parties:
The arguments of the applicant were that there was breach of substantive
and procedural law (Art. 15 of APA, requiring the refusal to be given
in writing with reasons attached, and Arts, 38 and 39 and Art. 2, para
3 of APIA, making it clear that the requested information was public).
The requested public information did not comply with any of the criteria
for restriction under APIA, as is seen in the publishing of those categories
of information, which was a kind of out-of-court recognition of that fact
on part of CEC.
As to the bids for counting and processing election results and the reasons
of CEC for making the decisions mentioned in the application (put into
the minutes from the CEC meetings), they were an indispensable element
of the public information concerning the counting of votes and the computer
processing of the election results.
Ms Negentsova as the representative of the defendant objected that the
Central Elections Committee was a subject of public law and SAC was not
the competent jurisdiction, that they had no time and worked very intensively,
and that the information was put in the records.
Issue of Interest:
Whether the bids for counting of the votes and computer processing of
the election results and the reasons of CEC for the decisions mentioned
in the application (put into the minutes from the CEC meetings) are public
information or not.
The refusal of CEC to make a decision on the application for granting
access to information is a case of material breach of substantive and
procedural law. The public nature of the requested information can be
seen in the CEC publications on the Internet and the CEC bulletin, containing
information from the categories envisaged in the application. It is only
through the guaranteed right of each and every individual or legal entity
of access to the whole public information concerning the counting of votes
and the computer processing of the election results that the required
transparency and accountability for the proper reflection of the voters'
will be ensured. The Institute for National Studies Association also needs
all the information on these issues for the purposes of conducting an
As far as implied refusals are concerned, there is already a ruling of
a five-member panel of SAC on a case, in which the defence was represented
by Alexander Kashamov, AIP lawyer (Case 7, CILA v.s MLSP), i.e. Ruling
No. 8645 of 16 November 2001. The ruling gives a positive answer as to
the issue whether an implied refusal to grant access to public information