Study Visit to the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe


Germany has always been a country which proclaims its total faith in the rule of law. Indeed, hardly a day passes when an inhabitant or visitor to this country is not reminded about the laws of the land which by now have assumed truly voluminous proportions (trust me on this, I was exposed to these law books on a daily basis at the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer, and for my masters and doctoral programme in public administration I had to be familiar with a number of them so I really know what I'm talking about)!

The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (or Bundesverfassungsgericht as it is named in German) is located in the city of Karlsruhe in the state of Baden-Württemberg. One of Germany's holiest institutional cows, whose judgments occasionally makes headlines in the Republic, its mandate requires it to hear and pass its judgment on complaints arising from alleged infringements of the German Constitution or, more precisely, its "Basic Law", which serves as the basic framework which all laws enacted by the federal and state legislatures must comply with. Citizens and private groups and organizations can petition the Court as can government bodies, the German states and the Federation. Usually, the Court's judgment is final; quite often it is controversial.

I had the opportunity to visit this famous institution on a Summers day in 2001. A study visit was arranged by the Hanns-Seidel Foundation (my former employer in Islamabad) and I was invited to participate in it. Most of our group members were the Foundation's stipend holders at the University of Heidelberg, and I came in the company of four colleagues from my University in Speyer.    


  Our group waiting outside the gate of the premises on which the Federal Constitutional Court. In the photos on the right, you can see the Court, which has been built in a nice classical archiectural style.    
    I recall that we had to sit around and wait a lot until the arival of our host, who is or who was a senior judge himself.      

  Now, finally, we're about to enter the Court. The photo on the right was taken in the Court's foyer and shows the nice winding staircase leading to the upper floor.  
    Our host is explaining something to us in the first photo on the left. We visited several rooms including the one in the photos on the immediate left and right. Our Group leader thanks our host on our behalf in the photo on the right.      




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