SECTION XVII. The Contentious-Administrative
There shall be a Contentious-Administrative Tribunal which shall be composed of five members.
In cases of vacancy and as long as these are not filled, and in the event of challenge, excuse, or disability to fulfill the jurisdictional function, the places shall be filled in such manner as may be prescribed by law.
The qualifications necessary for members of this Tribunal, the manner of their appointment, the prohibitions and incompatibilities, their remuneration and term of office shall be those established for members of the Supreme Court of Justice.
The Contentious-Administrative Tribunal shall hear pleas for the nullification of definitive administrative acts performed by the Administration in the exercise of its functions which are contrary to a rule of law or which are a distortion of authority.
The Tribunal shall also have jurisdiction over definitive administrative acts of the Departmental Governments, the Autonomous Entities, and the Decentralized Services.
Action for nullification may be taken only by one who has a right or a direct, personal and legitimate interest which is violated or injured by the administrative act.
The Tribunal shall limit itself to appraising the act in itself, confirming or annulling it, without alteration.
In issuing a decision all members of the Tribunal must concur, but a simple majority is sufficient to declare the annulment of an act contested on grounds of injury to a subjective right.
In other cases, annulment of an act shall require four favorable votes. However, the Tribunal shall reserve to the complaining party the right to sue for redress if three favorable votes declare the grounds for annulment sufficiently justified.
Whenever the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal declares the annulment of an administrative act contested on grounds of injury to a subjective right of the plaintiff, the decision shall have effect solely in the case acted upon.
If the decision declares the annulment of an act with respect to a rule of law or of good administration, it shall have general and absolute effect.
The action for reparation for harms caused by the administrative acts to which Article 309 refers shall be interposed before the jurisdiction that the law determines and may only be employed by those who have active legitimation to demand the annulment of the act at issue.
The plaintiff [actor] may opt between requesting the annulment of the act or reparation for the damage caused by it.
In the first case and if an annulment sentence is obtained, the reparation before the corresponding seat may be subsequently [luego] demanded. One may not, on the other hand, request an annulment if one first opted for the reparatory cause of action, whatever the respective sentence may contain. If the sentence of the
Tribunal is affirmed, [and] the reason invoked for annulment is declared sufficiently justified, one may also demand the reparation.
The Tribunal shall, in addition, act upon conflicts of jurisdiction, based upon legislation and upon the differences that may arise between the Executive Power, the Departmental Governments, the Autonomous Entities and the Decentralized Services, and likewise upon disputes or differences arising between one and another of these organs.
It shall act also upon disputes or differences that may arise among the members of the Departmental Boards, the Directorates or Councils of the Autonomous Entities and Decentralized Services, provided they have not been settled by the normal procedure for ascertaining the will of the agency concerned.
All disputes based on the Constitution shall be heard by the Supreme Court of Justice.
There shall be a State Attorney [Procurador del Estado] in the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, appointed by the Executive Power.
The qualifications necessary for this position, the prohibitions and incompatibilities, as well as its remuneration and term of office, shall be determined by the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal.
The State Attorney in the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal shall necessarily be heard at the final hearing on all matters within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.
The State Attorney is independent in the exercise of his functions. Consequently he may render opinions according to his convictions based upon what he believes to be the intent of the law.
The defendant official may have such representation or counsel as he may consider necessary.
Administrative acts may be contested by a plea for reversal, before the same official who issued the orders, within a period of ten days counted from the day following personal notification, if such was the case, or following publication in the Diario Oficial.
If the administrative act was executed by an official subject to higher authority, it may also be contested by a plea to that authority, who shall become jointly and subsidiarily a party to the plea for reversal.
If the administrative act comes from an authority which under its juridical statutes is subject to administrative supervision, it may be contested on the same grounds for annulment as provided in Article 309, by a petition for annulment before the Executive Power, which must become a party jointly and subsidiarily to the plea for reversal.
If the act issues from an organ of the Departmental Governments it may be contested by a plea for retrial and appeal in the manner provided by law.
Every administrative authority is required to act upon any petition submitted by a person having a legitimate interest in the execution of a specific administrative act and to act upon any administrative pleas against his decisions, after taking such steps as may be necessary for due understanding of the matter, within a period of twenty days from the date of enforcement of the last act imposed by law or by applicable regulation.
The petition is considered denied or the plea rejected if the authority in question does not act within the indicated time limit.
Action for annulment before the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal may not be taken if appropriate previous remedies in administrative channels have not been exhausted.
Action for annulment must be taken, under penalty of forfeiture, within the period prescribed by law in each case.
The law may, by a three-fifths vote of the full membership of each Chamber, create subordinate organs within the contentious-administrative jurisdiction.
These organs shall be appointed by the Contentious-Administrative Tribunal, in accordance with whatever the law may prescribe on the basis of provisions covering the Judicial Power, and they shall be subject to its directive, disciplinary, advisory and economic supervision.
The Contentious-Administrative Tribunal shall prepare its budgets and transmit them in due course to the Executive Power for inclusion in the draft general budget with such modifications as may be deemed pertinent.