The Fifth Section of the Contentious-Administrative of the National High Court has confirmed the ruling annulling the award of the silver medal for police merit to three retired commissioners for lack of motivation. The decorations, which were appealed by the UFP union after their award by the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, meant a 15 percent increase in their salary for those affected.
Both the affected police officers and the State Attorney’s Office appealed the decision of the head of the Central Court 6 for Contentious-Administrative Matters, which argued that in awarding the aforementioned medals «the individualized proposal of each one of the decorated officials is not recorded of the silver medal that allows knowing and justifying that in the winners some of the merits concur «required by the law that regulates this matter.
That is to say; the decision not only lacked an »explicit rationale«, but also »the set of documents and evidentiary elements that appear in the file and should give meaning to the administrative decision, omit any reference to the specific and individualized reasons that would prove that the winners meet the merits required by law«.
Now, the Chamber, made up of four magistrates, confirms that sentence and recalls that “this Section has maintained the discretionary nature of the awarding of honors and decorations in general and with respect to this medal in particular.” However, it adds that the discretionary nature of the decision of the Minister of the Interior “means that the requirements established by law to allow it to be granted are ‘minimum’ requirements, so that based on them and in a discretionary manner, the Management assess with freedom of judgment the meritorious nature of the facts analyzed and their relevance, in order to weigh whether or not they are worthy of distinction«.
Therefore, the Chamber continues “the discretionary decision must meet the required standard of motivation, be reasoned and that said motivations be adequate or sufficient.” And he warns: “It is assumed that the administrative body is going to exercise its powers for the greatest satisfaction of the public interest, not, of course, to decide by its own will what it pleases, even within the framework established by law. Precisely, the greater the discretion allowed by the rule, the greater the requirement of motivation, to avoid arbitrariness«.
However, the Fifth Section recalls that «the Administration may dictate a new order for awarding the medal, in a new procedure, adjusted to the legal system, which will be, again, susceptible to judicial challenge«. Or what is the same, explains to the Interior that the procedure should begin again if it considers that the decorations are fair, but that this time it motivates the granting of the decorations in a sufficient way.
The three commissioners affected are Eloy Quirós, former Commissioner General of the Judicial Police and with one of the Corps’ most brilliant service records, especially in the field of the fight against drug trafficking; Francisco Lopez Canedo former chief of Police of Navarra and Manuel Paz, former chief commissioner of the Provincial Immigration and Borders Brigade from Madrid.