The House of Representatives on Monday approved a new draft law on Judicial Authority, which includes amendments to some articles of the laws regulating the State Council; the State Lawsuits Authority (SLA); and the Administrative Prosecution Authority (SIS); despite the objections of some MPs to discussing the law without prior handing out of copies that would have given them a chance to study it.
The Legislative Committee of the House of Representatives approved the amendments earlier the same day, referring them for discussion at the evening general session; which then approved them and sent them to State Council to revise them and draft a report for the parliament.
Some MPs objected on the speed of discussing the bill and passing it, without informing the judicial authorities of the details of the amendments introduced by the parliamentary committee.
MP Alaa Abdel Moneim said that the draft law contradicts Article 185 of the Constitution, which states that "each judicial body or authority shall manage its own affairs and shall have an independent budget, the components of which shall be fully examined by the House of Representatives;" and that "each judicial body or organization shall be consulted with regards to the bills regulating its affairs."
He pointed out that this provision means that taking opinion to judicial bodies is imperative and it is inconceivable that we may be indifferent to these views. "It is clear that all the [judicial] bodies rejected the draft law. Is it conceivable then, that the council (House of Representative) would go ahead and enact such a draft law and ignore the opinion of those judicial authorities? The situation in Egypt does not need new crises," he added.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Ali Abdel-Aal, said that the new law doesn't affect the independence of the judiciary: "If I had any doubt that this law affects the independence of the judiciary, I would never have passed it," he affirmed.
The new draft law reportedly stipulates that the President will appoint the heads of the judiciary authorities by a decision, chosing from among the three vice-chairmen of each judicial body, nominated by the supreme council of that body from among the oldest seven deputies.
The new method comes contrary to the old system, by appointing the head of an authority who has the absolute seniority; a concept considered by the Judges Club of Egypt as "one of the principles and legal constants established, and one of the guarantees of the independence of the judiciary", to ensure that no official interferes in the selection of the President of the Court of Cassation.
The Judges Club of Egypt, yesterday, called for an emergency meeting to discuss the response that should be adopted to the approval of the amendments to the method of selection of heads of judicial bodies.
Judicial sources said the meeting would discuss a number of escalatory steps to reject the amendments as a blatant assault on the independence of the judiciary. The club will issue a statement within a few hours to clarify its final position.
The club stressed that the law on the judicial authority "is in clear and urgent need for the amendment to comply, in most of its articles, with the provisions of the new constitution."