Panama: Corte Suprema De Justicia Declara Ilegal Sistema De Cámaras De Vigilancia Vial

Last Updated: 21 April 2016
Article by Augusto C. García

Mediante sentencias de fechas 17 de marzo y 28 de marzo de 2016, la Sala Tercera de la Corte Suprema de Justicia decretó Nulo por Ilegal el Contrato de Concesión No. 40-2011 suscrito entre la Autoridad de Tránsito y Transporte Terrestre (ATTT) y la empresa Traffic Safety Panamá, S.A.

A través del contrato impugnado, la ATTT otorgó a la empresa Traffic Safety de Panamá, S.A. "la concesión del servicio de cámaras de vigilancia para la seguridad vial en la República de Panamá, que incluye control de velocidad, emisión de infracciones por exceso de velocidad, y otros servicios conexos". Dicho sistema generó malestar en la opinión pública al considerarse un contrato abusivo respecto a los intereses del Estado, el cual le otorgaba a la empresa operadora del servicio el 65% del valor de cada multa por infracción de tránsito impuesta con las cámaras objeto del sistema, circunstancia que se agrava si se tiene en cuenta que en apenas quince (15) días de funcionamiento dicho sistema impuso más de dos mil multas por infracciones de tránsito con sólo dos cámaras en funcionamiento en el sector de Costa del Este de la Ciudad Capital.

Dicho sistema fue objeto de dos Demandas de Nulidad interpuestas por la Asociación Nacional de Arrendadores de Vehículos (ANAV), y por otro lado el Licdo. Víctor Martínez, quienes demandaron la nulidad del contrato de Concesión No. 40-2011, en atención a las múltiples violaciones al ordenamiento jurídico configuradas en el proceso de adjudicación del contrato, así como de los efectos contenidos en el mismo, los cuales ocasionaban una lesión flagrante a los intereses del propio Estado panameño.

Opinión de la Procuraduría de la Administración:

La Procuraduría de la Administración al momento de emitir su concepto dentro de ambas Demandas de Nulidad solicitó a la Sala Tercera de la CSJ declarar Nulo por Ilegal el contrato de Concesión No. 40-2011, señalando que la aplicación de sanciones en materia de Tránsito es una competencia exclusiva de la Administración Pública a través de la ATTT y no de personas jurídicas de Derecho Privado.

Análisis de la Sala Tercera de la Corte Suprema de Justicia.

Al momento de adentrarse en la controversia planteada, la Sala Tercera de la Corte Suprema de Justicia resolvió decretar la nulidad por ilegal del Contrato de Concesión No. 40-2011, al considerar que el mismo adolece de un número plural de vicios de ilegalidad.

En primer lugar la Sala se pronunció de manera enfática a la desproporcionalidad existente en el contrato impugnado respecto a los beneficios económicos derivados del mismo, en los cuales se otorgaba a la empresa operadora del servicio el 65% del valor de cada multa por infracción de tránsito impuesta con las cámaras objeto del sistema mientras que el Estado solo recibía el 35% restante, hecho que a juicio de la Sala Tercera constituye una violación flagrante a los principios fundamentales de la contratación pública en nuestro país contenidos tanto en la Constitución Política como en la Ley.

Por otro lado, la Sala Tercera de la CSJ coincide con lo expuesto por los demandantes y la Procuraduría de la Administración respecto al hecho que el Estado es el único investido de poder sancionador (ius puniendi) y particularmente en materia de Tránsito así ha sido reconocido por las Leyes y Reglamentos establecidos en esta materia, al tratarse de una prerrogativa inherente a la función pública la cual no puede ser transferida ni mucho menos concesionada a ningún particular.

Con base a los argumentos expuestos la Sala Tercera de la Corte Suprema de Justicia decretó la nulidad por ilegal del Contrato de Concesión No. 40-2011 para la "la concesión del servicio de cámaras de vigilancia para la seguridad vial en la República de Panamá, que incluye control de velocidad, emisión de infracciones por exceso de velocidad, y otros servicios conexos", y puso fin a un contrato que desde su divulgación en los medios de comunicación social generó el repudio masivo por parte de la opinión pública en atención a las graves condiciones en perjuicio de los intereses del Estado panameño bajo las cuales fue suscrito el referido contrato.

Es de cardinal importancia destacar la valentía del gremio representado por la Asociación Nacional de Arrendadores de Vehículos (ANAV), los cuales lucharon de manera frontal contra los efectos del sistema de Cámaras de Vigilancia y atacaron de manera directa la ilegalidad del mismo frente a las autoridades jurisdiccionales del país, logrando en primer lugar la suspensión provisional de los efectos del contrato y la posterior declaratoria de ilegalidad del mismo. No obstante la Sala Tercera de la Corte Suprema de Justicia no accedió a la petición realizada por este gremio dirigida a que se devolvieran las sumas de dinero que habían sido pagadas por los particulares afectados con las multas impuestas con este sistema de cámaras de vigilancia de manera arbitraria e ilegal, considerando que al tratarse de la restitución de derechos particulares esta es una materia objeto de una Demanda de Plena Jurisdicción, la cual no podía ser objeto de pronunciamiento bajo la acción de nulidad planteada.

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