The Constitutional Court does not act ex officio. It has to work on the basis of relevant applications filed in the Court. The Constitution defines a strictly limited range of bodies that are authorized to access to the Constitutional Court. Under the Constitution, access to the Constitutional Court can be made in the following ways:
a. Action for Annulment (Abstract Review of Norms)
The constitutionality of laws, decrees having the force of law and the Rules of Procedure of Turkish Grand National Assembly or the provisions thereof may be challenged directly before the Constitutional Court through an annulment action by persons and organs empowered by the Constitution. The President of the Republic, parliamentary group of the party in power and of the main opposition party and a minimum of one-fifth of the total number of members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly have the right to apply for an annulment action to the Constitutional Court. If more than one political party is in power, the party having the greatest number of deputies exercises the right to apply for an annulment action. Often, applications are filed in person by the members of the Parliament.
The right to apply for annulment directly to the Constitutional Court lapses sixty days after publication in the Official Gazette of the contested law, the decree having the force of law, or the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.
b. Contention of Unconstitutionality (Concrete Review of Norms)
Unlike the abstract control of norms, contention of unconstitutionality can be initiated any time by the general, administrative and military courts and any party involved in a case that is under scrutiny before a court a quo. Applications are made by correspondence.
According to Article 152 of the Constitution, if a court a quo finds that the law or the decree having the force of law or a provision thereof to be applied in a pending case is unconstitutional, or if it is convinced of the seriousness of a claim of unconstitutionality that may be submitted by one of the parties, it applies to the Constitutional Court to decide on constitutionality and it postpones the proceeding of the case until the Constitutional Court decides on the issue. The Constitutional Court should decide on the matter within five months of receiving the contention. If no decision is reached within this period, the applicant court a quo should decide the case under existing legal provisions. No allegation of unconstitutionality may be made with regard to the same legal provision unless ten years elapse after publication in the Official Gazette of the decision of the Constitutional Court dismissing the application on its merits.
c. Individual Application (Constitutional Complaint)
Individual application was introduced into the Turkish legal system by the 2010 constitutional amendments and 23 September 2012 was determined as the first day of receiving applications. Article 148 of the Constitution stipulates that anyone who thinks that his/her constitutional rights set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights have been infringed by a public authority will have a right to apply to the Constitutional Court after exhausting other administrative and judicial remedies.
The Law on Establishment and Rules of Procedures of the Constitutional Court (Law No: 6216), has been enacted and entered into the force. There are seven articles relating to the individual application in this Law. Jurisdiction of the Court ratione materia comprises fundamental rights which are regulated by both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. But some acts of public power exempted from the scope of individual application. Basically, direct individual applications against legislative acts and regulatory administrative acts are prohibited. The Constitutional Court judgments and the acts excluded from judicial review by the Constitution are also excluded from the scope of the individual application.
The jurisdiction of the Court ratione personae comprises both real and legal persons. But, public legal persons cannot lodge individual applications while, private-law legal persons may apply solely on the ground that their rights concerning legal personality have been violated. Foreigners may not petition individual applications concerning rights exclusive to Turkish citizens.
According to the Law, individual applications are subject to payment of a fee. The amount of fee is determined by the Law as 150 Turkish Liras (approximately 100 US Dollars). Individual applications must be filed within thirty days after the notification of the final proceeding which exhausts legal remedies.
Admissibility examination of individual applications is to be made by commissions. The structure of the commissions has not been regulated by the Law and it was left to the Rules of Procedure. A commission may decide that an application is inadmissible unanimously. The aim of the admissibility examination is to control whether the application is within the jurisdiction of the Court. But the Law empowered the Court to eliminate some unimportant applications. The Court may decide an application inadmissible if it is manifestly ill-founded or if it does not bear any significance for the interpretation or application of the Constitution or for the determination of the scope and limits of fundamental rights and the applicant did not suffer any significant damage. The rationale behind the recognition of these inadmissibility reasons is to protect the Court from excessive workload and to provide more time to deal with serious fundamental rights allegations.
If an application is found admissible, it is examined by a section on the merits. The sections convene with four members under the chairmanship of a deputy president. Principally the examination is to be made on the file, but section may decide to hold a hearing if it deems necessary to do so.
In order to prevent any conflict between the Constitutional Court and other courts both the Constitution and the Law provided that examination of the sections on the merits is limited to determine whether a fundamental right has been violated and they cannot examine the matters which will be dealt with at the appeal or cassation stages. This provision should be interpreted by the Constitutional Court in a manner that its role in examination of individual application consists solely of determining whether the applicants fundamental rights have been violated. But it should refrain from further commenting on the actions of the judicial bodies, the facts of the case and the proper interpretation of laws by other courts.
At the end of an examination, the Constitutional Court decides whether the fundamental rights of the applicant have been violated or not. If it finds violation, it may also decide what should be done in order to redress the violation and its consequences.
In case the violation has been caused by a court decision, the Constitutional Court sends the file to the competent court for retrial in order to restore the fundamental rights of the applicant. But if the Constitutional Court deems that there will be no use of a re-trial, then it may decide some compensation for the applicant or it may ask the applicant to file a case before the competent first-instance court to seek compensation for the damages s/he suffered.
Finally, the Court may impose a fine of up to 2000 Turkish Liras in addition to the costs arising from the proceedings on the applicants who clearly abused the right of individual application.
d. Dissolution of Political Parties
According to Article 69/3 of the Constitution, the dissolution of political parties shall be decided finally by the Constitutional Court, following the filing of a suit to that effect by the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor of at the Court of Cassation. The Constitutional Court examines the case and gives its judgment on the basis of verbal hearings including the defense made by the defendant party and assertions made by the Chief Public Prosecutor; and on the basis of the report prepared in respect of merits by the appointed rapporteur-judge. Without prejudice to the provisions of the Criminal Procedural Law, the dissolution of political parties is decided on the basis of written defense and evidence.
The Turkish Constitution enumerates certain prohibitions that could lead to the dissolution of political parties. A political party may be closed, if:
The statutes and program of a political party is contrary to Article 68/4 of the Constitution.
A political party becomes an undertaker of actions contrary to Article 68/4 of the Constitution.
A political party receives financial aid from foreign countries, international institutions and from real persons and legal entities not belonging to Turkish nationality.
The Constitutional Court may rule, instead of dissolving them permanently, that the concerned party be deprived of state fiscal aid wholly or in part, in accordance with the severity of the actions brought before the Court.
While the Court had decided dissolution of a number of political parties in the past, it currently refrains from dissolution unless a party is involved in terrorist or violent activities.
e. Financial Audit of Political Parties
According to Article 69 of the Constitution, the auditing of the income, expenditure and acquisitions of political parties is within the competence of the Constitutional Court. The Court receives assistance from the Court of Accounts in performing its task of auditing. The judgments rendered by the Court as a result of the auditing are final.
f. Trial of Statesmen before the Grand Tribunal
The Constitutional Court, acting as the Grand Tribunal, tries for offences relating to their official functions the President of the Republic, Speaker of the TGNA, Prime Minister and Ministers, presidents and members of the Constitutional Court, of the Court of Cassation, of the Council of State, of the Military Court of Cassation, of the High Military Administrative Court of Appeals, and their Chief Public Prosecutors, Deputy Public Prosecutors, and the presidents and members of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and of the Court of Accounts, the Commander of Turkish Armed Forces (Chief of Staff), the Commanders of the Land, Naval and Air Forces and the General Commander of the Gendarmerie.
The prosecution in matters concerning the Grand Tribunal is exercised by the Chief Public Prosecutor or his deputy. One or several of the assistants to the Chief Public Prosecutor may also participate in the trials.