In the case of Pauger v. Austria (1),

        The European Court of Human Rights, sitting, in accordance with
Article 43 (art. 43) of the Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ("the Convention") and the
relevant provisions of Rules of Court B (2), as a Chamber composed of
the following judges:

        Mr  R. Bernhardt, President,
        Mr  F. Matscher,
        Mr  R. Macdonald,
        Mr  J. De Meyer,
        Mrs E. Palm,
        Mr  J.M. Morenilla,
        Mr  M.A. Lopes Rocha,
        Mr  L. Wildhaber,
        Mr  J. Makarczyk,

and also of Mr H. Petzold, Registrar, and Mr P.J. Mahoney, Deputy
Registrar,

        Having deliberated in private on 23 January and 25 April 1997,

        Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on the
last-mentioned date:
_______________
Notes by the Registrar

1.  The case is numbered 53/1996/672/858.  The first number is the
case's position on the list of cases referred to the Court in the
relevant year (second number).  The last two numbers indicate the
case's position on the list of cases referred to the Court since its
creation and on the list of the corresponding originating applications
to the Commission.

2.  Rules of Court B, which came into force on 2 October 1994, apply
to all cases concerning the States bound by Protocol No. 9 (P9).
________________

PROCEDURE

1.      The case was referred to the Court by the European Commission
of Human Rights ("the Commission") on 17 April 1996, within the
three-month period laid down by Article 32 para. 1 and Article 47 of
the Convention (art. 32-1, art. 47).  It originated in an application
(no. 16717/90) against the Republic of Austria lodged with the
Commission under Article 25 (art. 25) by an Austrian national,
Mr Dietmar Pauger, on 14 February 1990.

        The Commission's request referred to Articles 44 and 48
(art. 44, art. 48) and to the declaration whereby Austria recognised
the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court (Article 46) (art. 46).  The
object of the request was to obtain a decision as to whether the facts
of the case disclosed a breach by the respondent State of its
obligations under Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1).

2.      In response to the enquiry made in accordance with Rule 35
para. 3 (d) of Rules of Court B, the applicant designated the lawyer
who would represent him (Rule 31).  The lawyer was given leave by the
President of the Court to use the German language (Rule 28 para. 3).

3.      The Chamber to be constituted included ex officio
Mr F. Matscher, the elected judge of Austrian nationality (Article 43
of the Convention) (art. 43), and Mr R. Bernhardt, the Vice-President
of the Court (Rule 21 para. 4 (b)).  On 27 April 1996, in the presence
of the Registrar, the President of the Court, Mr R. Ryssdal, drew by
lot the names of the other seven members, namely Mr R. Macdonald,
Mr J. De Meyer, Mr S.K. Martens, Mrs E. Palm, Mr J.M. Morenilla,
Mr M.A. Lopes Rocha and Mr L. Wildhaber (Article 43 in fine of the
Convention and Rule 21 para. 5) (art. 43).  Subsequently
Mr J. Makarczyk, substitute judge, replaced Mr Martens, who had
resigned (Rules 22 para. 1 and 24 para. 1).

4.      As President of the Chamber (Rule 21 para. 6), Mr Bernhardt,
acting through the Registrar, consulted the Agent of the
Austrian Government ("the Government"), the applicant's lawyer and the
Delegate of the Commission on the organisation of the proceedings
(Rules 39 para. 1 and 40).  Pursuant to the order made in consequence,
the Registrar received the Government's memorial on 25 September 1996
and the applicant's memorial on 27 September 1996.

        On 18 September 1996 the Commission produced various documents
from the file on the proceedings before it, as requested by the
Registrar on the President's instructions.

5.      In accordance with the President's decision, the hearing took
place in public in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on
21 January 1997.  The Court had held a preparatory meeting beforehand.

        There appeared before the Court:

(a) for the Government

    Mr F. Cede, Ambassador, Head of the International
       Law Department, Federal Ministry of Foreign
       Affairs,                                                Agent,
    Ms I. Sieß, Constitutional Department, Federal
       Chancellery,
    Ms E. Bertagnoli, International Law Department,
       Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs,                 Advisers;

(b) for the Commission

    Mr B. Marxer,                                           Delegate;

(c) for the applicant

    Mr W. Mantl, Professor of Public Law and Political
       Sciences, University of Graz,                         Counsel.

        The Court heard addresses by Mr Marxer, Mr Mantl and Mr Cede.

AS TO THE FACTS

I.      Particular circumstances of the case

6.      Mr Dietmar Pauger, an Austrian national who was born in 1941,
is Professor of Public Law and Political Sciences at the
University of Graz (Styria) and lives in Graz.  His wife, who was a
schoolteacher with the status of a civil servant in the region (Land)
of Styria, died on 23 June 1984.

    A.  Proceedings prior to the amendment of the Pensions Act 1965

        1.  Before the administrative authorities

7.      On 24 August 1984 Mr Pauger applied to the
Regional Education Council (Landesschulrat) for a survivor's pension.

8.      On 30 August 1984 it dismissed his application on the ground
that whereas under section 14 (1) of the Pensions Act 1965
(Pensionsgesetz 1965 - see paragraph 30 below) a widow of a civil
servant could in certain circumstances claim a pension, a widower could
not.

9.      Mr Pauger appealed to the Styria Regional Government
(Steiermärkische Landesregierung), which upheld the decision on
21 September 1984.

        2.  In the Constitutional Court and the Administrative Court

10.     On 15 October 1984 Mr Pauger applied to the
Constitutional Court (Verfassungsgerichtshof) and on 22 October to the
Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof).

11.     In a separate development on 4 October 1984, after holding a
public hearing, the Constitutional Court had repealed section 14 (1)
of the Pensions Act 1965 with effect from 28 February 1985 on the
ground that the difference in treatment between widowers and widows in
respect of pension payments was in violation of the principle of equal
treatment (Gleichheitsgebot).

12.     On 13 February 1985 the Administrative Court dismissed the
applicant's appeal.  It considered that, irrespective of the repeal of
the statutory provision in question, his claim for a widower's pension
had no legal basis.

13.     On 23 February 1985, after deliberating in private, the
Constitutional Court declined to accept the appeal for adjudication
(Article 144 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution
(Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) - see paragraph 32 below) on the ground that
it did not have sufficient prospects of success.  It considered that
it had already repealed section 14 (1) of the Pensions Act and that it
could not rule on the same question again.

14.     On 26 September 1985 Parliament enacted the eighth amendment
to the Pensions Act 1965 (Achte Pensionsgesetznovelle - see
paragraph 31 below) with retrospective effect from 1 March 1985.

    B.  Proceedings after the reform of the Pensions Act

        1.  Before the administrative authorities

15.     On 13 May 1985 Mr Pauger reapplied to the
Regional Education Council for a survivor's pension.

16.     On 18 November 1985 the Council awarded him a pension of
2,441.70 Austrian schillings (ATS) with effect from 1 March 1985, which
represented one-third of his pension rights, in accordance with the
transitional provisions under Part II, paragraph 2, of the Pensions Act
as amended (see paragraph 31 below).

17.     On 28 November 1985 the applicant appealed against that
decision to the Styria Regional Government.  He argued that the
Regional Council had not ruled on whether or not his pension should be
suspended, a matter that affected him inasmuch as he was employed as
a university professor (section 40 (a) (1) of the Pensions Act as
amended - see paragraph 31 below).  He also said that both the
transitional provisions under Part II, paragraph 2, of the Pensions Act
as amended and section 40 (a) (1) of this Act were in violation of the
principle of equality before the law and were unconstitutional.

18.     On 7 January 1986 the Regional Government confirmed the amount
of the pension due to the applicant.  It decided, however, to suspend
payment on the ground that he was gainfully employed.

        2.  In the Constitutional Court

19.     On 22 February 1986 Mr Pauger applied to the Constitutional
Court complaining that the transitional provisions of the Pensions Act,
as amended, under which he was entitled only to a reduced pension until
1 January 1995, and section 40 (a) (1) of the Act, pursuant to which
his pension rights had been suspended, were unconstitutional.

20.     On 1 July 1987 the Constitutional Court decided to review the
constitutionality of section 40 (a) of the Pensions Act (Article 140
para. 1 of the Federal Constitution - see paragraph 32 below).  It did
not rule on whether the transitional provisions of the Act were
constitutional.

21.     On 9 December 1987 the Constitutional Court held a hearing at
which it heard argument by the representative of the Government and the
applicant.

22.     On 16 March 1988 the Constitutional Court repealed
section 40 (a) of the Pensions Act with effect from 30 June 1988 on the
ground that it was in violation of the principle of equal treatment.
It said that no convincing reason had been given for the difference in
treatment between, on the one hand, a retired civil servant or his
surviving spouse with additional income and, on the other hand, a
civil servant still in employment who likewise had additional income.

23.     On 17 March 1988 the Constitutional Court quashed the
Regional Government's decision of 7 January 1986 (see paragraph 18
above).

24.     On 21 June 1988 the Regional Government made a further ruling
and upheld the Regional Council's decision of 18 November 1985
(see paragraph 16 above) awarding the applicant a pension of
ATS 2,441.70 with effect from 1 March 1985 and payable immediately.

25.     On 11 August 1988 the applicant again applied to the
Constitutional Court claiming that the transitional provisions of the
Pensions Act under which he was only entitled to a reduced pension
until 1 January 1995 were unconstitutional (section 40 (a) (1) of the
Pensions Act - see paragraph 31 below).  He did not ask for a hearing
to be held.

26.     On 3 October 1989, after deliberating in private, the
Constitutional Court dismissed Mr Pauger's appeal (section 19 (4) of
the Constitutional Court Act (Verfassungsgerichtshofsgesetz) -
see paragraph 33 below).  It said that the transitional provisions in
question reflected the continuing change in attitudes towards the
equality of the sexes and was not therefore in violation of the
principle of equal treatment.

        3.  Before the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations

27.     On 5 June 1990 Mr Pauger applied to the Human Rights Committee
of the United Nations relying on the same facts as he had in his
application to the Commission.  He alleged that there had been a
violation of Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, which provides: "All persons shall be equal before
the law and shall be entitled without any discrimination to the equal
protection of the law."

28.     On 30 March 1993 the Human Rights Committee found that there
had been a violation of the Article.

II.     Relevant domestic law

    A.  Substantive law

29.     The relevant provisions of the Pensions Act 1965 read as
follows:

                             Section 2 (1)

        "A civil servant shall acquire the right to a pension for
        himself and the members of his family from the day he assumes
        his duties ..."

                             Section 3 (1)

        "A retired civil servant shall be entitled to a monthly pension
        if he has completed at least ten reckonable years of service."

                             Section 4 (1)

        "Pensions shall be calculated with reference to the basic
        monthly salary and the total number of reckonable years of
        service."

30.     In its 1965 version section 14 (1) of the Pensions Act provided
as follows:

        "The widow of a civil servant shall be entitled to a
        monthly pension if the civil servant himself was entitled to
        a retirement pension at the time of his death or if he would
        have been entitled to one when he retired."

31.     Since 1 March 1985, when the eighth amendment to the
Pensions Act 1965 came into force, the relevant provisions of this Act
have been as follows:

                            Section 14 (1)

        "The surviving spouse of a civil servant shall be entitled to
        a monthly survivor's pension if the civil servant himself or
        herself was entitled to a retirement pension at the time of his
        or her death or if he or she would have been entitled to one
        when he or she retired."

                            Section 15 (1)
                  [provision already amended in 1984]

        "A survivor's pension shall amount to 60% of the retirement
        pension calculated on the basis of the total number of
        reckonable years of service and of the spouse's grade at the
        time he or she retired ..."

                          Section 40 (a) (1)

        "If a civil servant or a surviving spouse has income deriving
        from current employment, the retirement pension or survivor's
        pension shall be suspended ..."

                          Part II, section 2
                       (transitional provisions)

        "The monthly payments to which the widower or former spouse
        shall be entitled are:

        - from 1 March 1985, one-third of the pension;
        - from 1 January 1989, two-thirds of the pension;
        - from 1 January 1995, the full pension.

        This restriction shall not apply if the widower or former
        spouse is incapable of gainful employment or indigent."

    B.  Procedure

        1.  The Federal Constitution

32.     The relevant provisions of the Federal Constitution read as
follows:

                          Article 90 para. 1

        "Hearings by trial courts in civil and criminal cases shall be
        oral and public.  Exceptions may be prescribed by law."

                              Article 140

        "1. ... The Constitutional Court shall also rule on the
        constitutionality of Acts when an individual has applied to it
        claiming that his or her rights have been breached by such Acts
        on account of their unconstitutional character ...

        ...

        7. If an Act has been abrogated on the basis that it is
        unconstitutional or if the Constitutional Court has held under
        paragraph 4 that an Act was unconstitutional, its decision
        shall be binding on all courts and administrative authorities.
        Except in relation to the case before the Court, abrogation of
        an Act shall not have retrospective effect, unless specifically
        so provided in the judgment.  If in its abrogation decision the
        Court has set a time-limit under paragraph 5 [for a maximum of
        one year], the Act shall remain applicable to facts occurring
        until the expiry of the time-limit, except for facts relating
        to the case before the Court."

                              Article 144

        "1. The Constitutional Court shall hear appeals against the
        decisions of administrative authorities, including those of
        independent administrative tribunals, where the applicant
        claims that the decision has infringed a right secured by the
        Constitution or that his rights have been violated by the
        enforcement of a regulation contrary to the law, an Act
        contrary to the Constitution or an international treaty
        incompatible with Austrian law.  An appeal shall only lie once
        all other remedies have been exhausted.

        2. Up to the time of the hearing the Constitutional Court may
        by means of a decision decline to accept a case for
        adjudication if it does not have sufficient prospects of
        success or if it cannot be expected that the judgment will
        clarify an issue of constitutional law.  The Court may not
        decline to accept for adjudication a case excluded from the
        jurisdiction of the Administrative Court by Article 133."

        2.  Constitutional Court Act

33.     The relevant provisions of the Constitutional Court Act read
as follows:

                              Section 19

        "1. The judgments of the Constitutional Court, except for those
        referred to in sections 10 and 36 (c), shall be delivered
        following a public hearing to which the plaintiff, the opposing
        party and all other parties to the proceedings shall be
        summoned.

        2. ...

        3. The Constitutional Court may decide at a private sitting,
        without further proceedings or a hearing, upon a proposal by
        the reporting judge:

              1. to decline to accept a case for adjudication under
        Article 144 para. 2 of the Federal Constitution;

              2. to dismiss an application for:

                   (a) manifest lack of jurisdiction of the
                   Constitutional Court,

                   (b) failure to comply with a statutory time-limit,

                   (c) failure to rectify a procedural defect,

                   (d) raising a point which is a matter of settled
                   precedent,

                   (e) lack of standing;

              3. to strike the case out of its list where the
        application has been withdrawn or the case has been settled.
        (paragraph 86)

        4. [paragraph amended by the Act of 26 June 1984] The
        Constitutional Court may decide not to hold a hearing when it
        is apparent from the written pleadings submitted to it by the
        parties and from the files relating to the earlier proceedings
        that a hearing is not likely to assist the Court in its
        understanding of the case.  Upon a proposal by the reporting
        judge it may also decide, without a hearing, at a
        private sitting:

              1. to dismiss an appeal if there has clearly been no
        violation of a right secured by the Constitution;

              2. cases where the question of law has been sufficiently
        clarified by the previous case-law of the Constitutional Court;

              3. to allow an appeal that has led to the setting aside
        of a regulation contrary to the law, an Act contrary to the
        Constitution or an international treaty incompatible with
        Austrian law.

        5. ..."

                            Section 82 (1)

        "Appeals shall only lie under Article 144 para. 1 of the
        Constitution once administrative remedies have been exhausted
        and within six weeks of the decision taken at last instance
        being served on the plaintiff."

                            Section 83 (1)

        "The appeal and the documents appended thereto shall be
        communicated to the authority that took the decision in issue,
        giving it a period of not less than three weeks within which
        to submit its observations."

                              Section 84

        "1. When the observations in reply have been received or the
        time-limit has expired ... the President of the
        Constitutional Court shall set the date of the hearing.

        2. The hearing shall be held in the presence of the applicant,
        the authority in question (section 83 (1)) and any other party
        to the proceedings."

III.    Austria's reservation in respect of Article 6 of the Convention
        (art. 6)

34.     The instrument of ratification of the Convention deposited by
the Austrian Government on 3 September 1958 contains a reservation
which provides as follows:

        "The provisions of Article 6 of the Convention (art. 6) shall
        be so applied that there shall be no prejudice to the
        principles governing public court hearings laid down in
        Article 90 of the 1929 version of the
        Federal Constitutional Law."

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

35.     Mr Pauger lodged an application with the Commission on
14 February 1990.  Relying on Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention
(art. 6-1), he complained that he had not had access to a court or had
a fair hearing in the Constitutional Court, which, among other things,
had not held a hearing.  He also complained of the total length of the
proceedings.

36.     On 9 January 1995 the Commission declared the application
(no. 16717/90) admissible as regards the complaint concerning the lack
of a hearing and declared it inadmissible as for the rest.  In its
report of 27 February 1996 (Article 31) (art. 31), it expressed the
opinion that there had been no violation of Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1) (by seventeen votes to eleven).  The full text of the
Commission's opinion and of the three separate opinions contained in
the report is reproduced as an annex to this judgment (1).
_______________
Note by the Registrar

1.  For practical reasons this annex will appear only with the printed
version of the judgment (in Reports of Judgments and
Decisions 1997-III), but a copy of the Commission's report is
obtainable from the registry.
_______________

FINAL SUBMISSIONS TO THE COURT BY THE GOVERNMENT

37.     The Government requested the Court to "hold that there has been
no violation of Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1) in the
instant case".

AS TO THE LAW

I.      ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 PARA. 1 OF THE CONVENTION
        (art. 6-1)

38.     The applicant submitted that the lack of a public hearing in
the Constitutional Court was in breach of Article 6 para. 1 of the
Convention (art. 6-1), which provides:

        "In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ...,
        everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing ... by [a]
        tribunal ..."

39.     The Government and the Commission took the opposite view.

40.     The Court must first determine whether Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1) is applicable.

    A.  Applicability of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1)

41.     Mr Pauger maintained that his right to a survivor's pension was
a civil right within the meaning of Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention
(art. 6-1).  Moreover, as section 14 (1) of the Pensions Act 1985 had
removed any distinction on the basis of sex, he had had a "right" to
such a pension on the same basis as a widow.  Lastly, the
Constitutional Court's judgment had been directly decisive for his
civil right.

42.     The Commission found that Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) applied
to the proceedings in issue.

43.     The Government, on the contrary, disputed that point on the
ground that Mr Pauger did not have a "right" in domestic law; they
relied on the case of Gaygusuz v. Austria (judgment of
16 September 1996, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-IV).  Under
ordinary Austrian law the applicant was unequivocally denied a full
survivor's pension.  His application to the Constitutional Court did
not therefore relate to an existing right but to the creation of a new
right which was more favourable to him.  As there was no such right,
the applicant could only claim in the Constitutional Court that he
should have such a right.  That claim was not sufficient to establish
that there was a "civil right" in domestic law.

44.     The Court considers, firstly, that in the instant case there
was a "contestation" (dispute) over a right.

        Section 2 (1) of the Pensions Act provides that "A
civil servant shall acquire the right to a pension for himself and the
members of his family from the day he assumes his duties ..."
(see paragraph 29 above).  Moreover, since the eighth amendment to the
Pensions Act 1965 came into force on 1 March 1985, section 14 (1) of
the Act has not distinguished between a widower and a widow as regards
pension entitlement (see paragraph 31 above).  Under that section the
applicant was therefore, as a widower, entitled in principle to such
a pension.

        Under the transitional provisions of the Act widowers were
entitled only to a reduced, phased pension from 1 March 1985 to
1 January 1995 (see paragraph 31 above).  On 11 August 1988 the
applicant applied to the Constitutional Court claiming that the
transitional provisions, under which he was granted only a reduced
pension, were unconstitutional in so far as they did not permit him to
receive a full survivor's pension (see paragraph 25 above).

        There was therefore a "contestation" (dispute) over the scope
of the applicant's rights to a pension and even as to their existence.

45.     The right to a pension is a civil right, as the Court has held
several times (see the Francesco Lombardo v. Italy and
Giancarlo Lombardo v. Italy judgments of 26 November 1992, Series A
nos. 249-B and 249-C, pp. 26-27, paras. 14-17, and p. 42, paras. 13-16,
respectively, and the Massa v. Italy judgment of 24 August 1993,
Series A no. 265-B, p. 20, para. 26).

46.     Moreover, proceedings come within the scope of Article 6
para. 1 (art. 6-1), even where they are conducted before a
constitutional court, if their outcome is decisive for civil rights and
obligations (see, inter alia, the Süßmann v. Germany judgment of
16 September 1996, Reports 1996-IV, p. 1171, para. 41).

47.     In the instant case the only means by which Mr Pauger could
challenge the administrative authorities' decisions was an application
to the Constitutional Court as it alone could rule on the
constitutionality of the statutory provisions in issue.  If it found
that those provisions were unconstitutional, they would be declared
void and the applicant's pension rights would be reassessed.

48.     The Constitutional Court's judgment was therefore directly
decisive for Mr Pauger's civil right.

49.     Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) accordingly applies to the
proceedings in issue.

    B.  Compliance with Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1)

        1.  Austria's reservation in respect of Article 6 (art. 6)

50.     In the Government's submission, the Court could not consider
the complaint that the Constitutional Court had not held a
public hearing, since proceedings in that court were covered by
Austria's reservation in respect of Article 6 of the Convention
(art. 6) (see paragraph 34 above).  The reservation was valid and
applicable in the instant case in so far as section 19 (4) of the
Constitutional Court Act was not wider in scope than the corresponding
provision in force in 1958.

51.     The applicant maintained that Austria's reservation in respect
of Article 6 (art. 6) could not be invoked in the instant case.
Firstly, it was void as it did not comply with the requirements of
Article 64 of the Convention (art. 64), which provides:

        "1. Any State may, when signing [the] Convention or when
        depositing its instrument of ratification, make a reservation
        in respect of any particular provision of the Convention to the
        extent that any law then in force in its territory is not in
        conformity with the provision.  Reservations of a general
        character shall not be permitted under this Article (art. 64).

        2.  Any reservation made under this Article (art. 64) shall
        contain a brief statement of the law concerned."

        Secondly, it was not applicable in the present case as
section 19 (4) of the Constitutional Court Act did not come into force
until 1984.

52.     In the Commission's view, it was unnecessary to ascertain
whether the reservation prevented it from considering the
Constitutional Court's failure to hold a public hearing, since in the
present case that failure had not amounted to a breach of Article 6
para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1).

53.     The Court notes firstly that section 19 (4) of the
Constitutional Court Act, on which the decision not to hold a hearing
was based (see paragraph 26 above), came into force in 1984
(see paragraph 33 above), whereas Austria ratified the Convention and
made the reservation in question in 1958.  Under Article 64 para. 1
(art. 64-1) a reservation may only be made in respect of laws "then in
force" in the State's territory.  In 1958 there was no provision like
the new paragraph 4, enacted in 1984, of section 19 cited above.

54.     The Court therefore finds, as in the case of
Fischer v. Austria, which concerned the Administrative Court (judgment
of 26 April 1995, Series A no. 312, pp. 19-20, paras. 41-42), that the
above reservation does not preclude its reviewing the applicant's
complaint as to the lack of a hearing in the Constitutional Court.

55.     In the light of this conclusion, the Court does not consider
it necessary to examine the validity of the reservation in relation to
the other conditions laid down in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 64 of
the Convention (art. 64-1, art. 64-2).

        2.  Merits of the complaint

56.     The applicant submitted that a public hearing in the
Constitutional Court would have made it possible to clarify all the
aspects of the case and would have led to a different outcome.  His
failure to request such a hearing could under no circumstances be seen
as a waiver of his right to a hearing.  Contrary to the procedure in
the Administrative Court, no provision was made for such a request in
the Constitutional Court, nor would it serve any useful purpose since
the decision whether to hold a hearing was a matter for that court's
discretion.  Lastly, issues of sex discrimination as regards pension
entitlement were matters of public interest and justified holding a
hearing.

57.     The Government and the Commission considered, on the contrary,
that by failing to make such a request Mr Pauger had unequivocally
waived his right to a public hearing.  Moreover, the dispute had not
raised issues of public interest such as to make a hearing necessary.

58.     The Court recalls that the public character of court hearings
constitutes a fundamental principle enshrined in Article 6 para. 1
(art. 6-1), but that neither the letter nor the spirit of that
provision (art. 6-1) prevents a person from waiving of his own
free will, either expressly or tacitly, the entitlement to have his
case heard in public.  Any such waiver must be made in an unequivocal
manner and must not run counter to any important public interest
(see, inter alia, the Schuler-Zgraggen v. Switzerland judgment of
24 June 1993, Series A no. 263, p. 19, para. 58).

59.     In the present case the Regional Education Council and the
Regional Government which ruled on the applicant's pension claim
(see paragraphs 15-18 above) were wholly administrative bodies.  Given
the nature of the complaints raised by the applicant, only the
Constitutional Court could rule on the constitutionality of the
provisions in issue (Article 144 of the Federal Constitution -
see paragraph 32 above).  Mr Pauger was thus in principle entitled to
a public hearing, as none of the exceptions laid down in the
second sentence of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) applied (see the
Håkansson and Sturesson v. Sweden judgment of 21 February 1990,
Series A no. 171-A, p. 20, para. 64).

60.     However, the Constitutional Court does not as a rule hear
parties unless one of them expressly asks it to do so.  The applicant
could consequently have been expected to ask for a hearing if he found
it important that one be held (see the Håkansson and Sturesson judgment
previously cited, pp. 20-21, para. 67).  Mr Pauger is moreover a
professor of public law and is therefore familiar with
Constitutional Court procedure (see, mutatis mutandis, the
Melin v. France judgment of 22 June 1993, Series A no. 261-A,
pp. 11-12, para. 24).

61.     As the applicant made no such request he must be considered to
have unequivocally waived his right to a public hearing (see the
Håkansson and Sturesson judgment previously cited, p. 21, para. 67).

62.     Lastly, it is necessary to determine whether, in spite of this
waiver, the dispute in the Constitutional Court ran counter to an
important public interest which made it necessary for a hearing to be
held.

63.     The question of the principle of equality between widows and
widowers as regards pension entitlement had already been resolved by
the Constitutional Court, after holding a public hearing, in its
judgment of 4 October 1984 (see paragraph 11 above).  Mr Pauger's
application only related to the constitutionality of the transitional
provisions of the 1985 Act, which were unfavourable to widowers
(see paragraph 31 above).

        His case did not therefore raise a matter of public interest
such as warranted a public hearing.

        There has accordingly been no violation of Article 6 para. 1
of the Convention (art. 6-1).

II.     COMPLIANCE WITH ARTICLE 27 PARA. 1 (b) OF THE CONVENTION
        (art. 27-1-b)

64.     Before the Commission the Government had argued that the
application was inadmissible inasmuch as the applicant had brought the
same case before the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations.  In
the Government's submission, the Commission could not therefore examine
the petition, in accordance with Article 27 para. 1 (b) of the
Convention (art. 27-1-b) which reads as follows:

        "The Commission shall not deal with any petition submitted
        under Article 25 (art. 25) which:

              ...

              (b) is substantially the same as a matter which has
        already been examined by the Commission or has already been
        submitted to another procedure of international investigation
        or settlement and if it contains no relevant new information.

              ..."

65.     In its decision as to admissibility of 9 January 1995 the
Commission considered that "the applicant did not submit substantially
the same matter as raised in his application to the
Human Rights Committee of the United Nations.  While before [the
Human Rights Committee] he complained of discrimination against him,
before the Commission he complained about issues related to the
proceedings before the Austrian authorities and courts".

66.     The Government did not raise the issue of compliance with
Article 27 para. 1 (b) of the Convention (art. 27-1-b) before the Court
and it is not necessary for the Court to consider it of its own motion
(see, mutatis mutandis, the Campbell v. the United Kingdom judgment of
25 March 1992, Series A no. 233, p. 23, para. 66, and the
Papamichalopoulos and Others v. Greece judgment of 24 June 1993,
Series A no. 260-B, p. 69, para. 40 in fine).

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY

1.      Holds that Article 6 para. 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1)
        applies in the instant case and has not been breached;

2.      Holds that it is not necessary to examine of its own motion
        whether Article 27 para. 1 (b) of the Convention (art. 27-1-b)
        was complied with.

        Done in English and in French, and delivered at a public
hearing in the Human Rights Building, Strasbourg, on 28 May 1997.

Signed: Rudolf BERNHARDT
        President

Signed: Herbert PETZOLD
        Registrar

        In accordance with Article 51 para. 2 of the Convention
(art. 51-2) and Rule 55 para. 2 of Rules of Court B, the concurring
opinion of Mr Matscher is annexed to this judgment.

Initialled: R.B.

Initialled: H.P.

                 CONCURRING OPINION OF JUDGE MATSCHER

                             (Translation)

        I voted with the Chamber, which decided unanimously that there
had been no breach of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) even though, in my
view, the applicant had no "right" and there could not therefore have
been a "contestation" (dispute) within the meaning of that Article
(art. 6-1).  What the applicant asked the Constitutional Court to do -
 and this was the only possibility open to him - was to declare a
statutory provision void, and only if that court had found that the
provision in issue was unconstitutional could he have claimed that he
had a right within the meaning of Article 6 (art. 6).

        In this connection I would also cite the statement in
paragraph 46 of the judgment, which in my view is too general, namely
that proceedings come within the scope of Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1),
even where they are conducted before a constitutional court, if their
outcome is decisive for civil rights and obligations (see my separate
opinion in the case of Ruiz-Mateos v. Spain, judgment of 23 June 1993,
Series A no. 262, p. 32).

        As to the rest, I entirely agree with the reasoning in the
judgment as regards compliance with Article 6 para. 1 (art. 6-1) in the
instant case.