Tbilisi City Court upheld TDI’s Complaint on the Case of Construction House of Worship
On January 31, 2017 Tbilisi City Court satisfied the claim of LEPL Savior's Bible Church about the construction of the house of worship. Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) is representing the interests of the plaintiff in court and administrative bodies.
In 2015, the mentioned religious organization addressed Architecture Service of Tbilisi City Hall with the request of granting religious construction permit. During administrative proceedings Architecture Service asked the plaintiff to present construction reasonability assessment by the State Agency for Religious Issues (Hereinafter referred to ‘Agency’). Thus, Tbilisi City Court has refused granting the permit based on the requirement of non-compulsory document in this regard from unauthorized body and therefore, violated the rights of religious organization.
TDI believes that requesting recommendation from the Agency during the construction permit granting process creates an illegal obstacle, and causes additional bureaucracy currently not entailed by the legislation.
Plaintiff presented the following demands during the court trial:
- To discuss the request of the religious organization by Architecture Service of Tbilisi City Hall, based on the documentation submitted by the plaintiff,
- Annulment of City Hall’s decision that rejected plaintiff’s administrative lawsuit where the following party was demanding annulment of the decision by the Architecture Service
- Annulment of a decision on deficiency (in the documents presented by the plaintiff) by the Architecture Service of Tbilisi City Hall.
TDI’s claims were satisfied by Tbilisi City Court.
It has to be noted, that in recent years, after the establishment of the State Agency for Religious Issues, administrative bodies require recommendation letters from the Agency prior to granting construction permits to religious organizations.
TDI believes that the legal procedures needed for granting construction permit is fully regulated by the law and State Agency for Religious Issues is an unauthorized body in this process. Assessment of construction reasonability is out of the Agency’s mandate and competence. Hence, such kind of practice imposes additional restrictions for religious organizations. Accordingly, the decision of the court may have precedential effect on decision-making process of administrative bodies.
TDI’s legal aid and strategic litigation is a carried out through the project Combatting Religious, Ethnic and Racial Discrimination in Georgia, implemented in the framework of East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) project Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).