On August 27, Hraparak Daily published an article entitled “What are the legal grounds for making Vagharshak Harutyunyan a General?” The author of the article raised the question of what legal grounds there were for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to petition President Armen Sargsyan to restore Vagharshak Harutyunyan’s rank as lieutenant general.
On August 23, Armen Sargsyan revoked President Robert Kocharian’s decree dated 22/07/2002 to deprive Vagharshak Harutyunyan of his military rank.
The decree published on the official website of the President specifies the first part of Article 139 of the Constitution as a basis for the decree: “In the course of exercising his or her powers, the President shall adopt decrees and executive orders.” No other legal ground is mentioned. The author of the article raises the question on what grounds the Prime Minister petitioned the President to sign such a decree.
It should be noted that there can be no decision, decree or other legal act that has no legal basis or mechanism for revocation. However, in this case, the legal grounds have not been published, which raises doubts about its legality.
Fip.am sent an inquiry to the Prime Minister’s staff for answers to these questions. We got the following response:
“According to Article 16 (1) of the RA Law on Military Service and the Status of the Serviceman, the President of the Republic of Armenia grants military ranks to the highest ranking officers on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia. Hence, granting suggests not only giving the rank but also restoring it or, in other words, honoring with the title. And this restoration implies both the adoption of a separate act and the automated [system of] revocation of the act of deprivation.”
That is, the Prime Minister restored Vagharshak Harutyunyan’s rank of lieutenant general in an automated way, by revoking the 2002 act.
It should also be added that according to Article 37 (1) of the Law on Normative Legal Acts, the normative legal act, with the exception of the Constitution, is recognized as void by the decision of the law-making body, its successor or the body having relevant powers. In the case of military ranks, according to the previous Constitution, the decision was to be made by the President of the Republic, and after the 2015 constitutional amendments, according to Article 133 of the Constitution, the President shall make such decisions, but only at the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
It should also be noted that the President can reject the recommendation and refuse to sign any legal act if he considers it to be unconstitutional (in this case the matter is referred to the Constitutional Court).
Thus, Prime Minister Pashinyan’s petition to President Armen Sargsyan to revoke Robert Kocharyan’s 2002 decree is legitimate.