Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1371, (30 November - 6 December 2017)
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1371, (30 November - 6 December 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Judicial interests

Time is running out for veteran State Council judge Yehia Dakrouri’s appeal, reports Mona El-Nahhas 

Judicial interests
Judicial interests

On Saturday the Higher Administrative Court delayed hearing the appeal filed by Yehia Dakrouri, the oldest State Council deputy chairman, against a 17 February presidential decree bypassing him as head of the council.

Dakrouri also petitioned for the annulment of a 19 July presidential decree appointing judge Ahmed Abul-Azm as State Council chairman and called for Law 13/2017 regulating the appointment of heads of judicial bodies to be referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

Though it dismissed Dakrouri’s first request, the Higher Administrative Court did allow the claimant to file a lawsuit before the SCC which must now rule on the constitutionality of Law 13/2017. 

“Today’s ruling was very disappointing. We had hoped the court would halt the appointment of Abul-Azm, in which case Dakrouri would have become acting State Council chairman,” says Tarek Negeida, a member of Dakrouri’s legal team. 

If the SCC rules the law unconstitutional Abul-Azm’s appointment will automatically be annulled. Dakrouri, though, will not benefit from any decision given he reaches retirement age on 1 December. 

The judicial bodies law triggered controversy among judges when it was ratified in April, with many claiming it undermined judicial independence by allowing the executive to interfere in judicial affairs. Under the law the president names the heads of judicial bodies, choosing from a list of nominees presented by the general assembly of each judicial authority. Before the new law was issued, seniority was the sole criterion for appointing heads of judicial bodies and the president’s role limited to endorsing the nominee put forward by the general assembly of each authority.

As head of the State Council Legislative Department Abul-Azm issued a report questioning the constitutionality of the judicial bodies law by which he was later appointed head of the State Council.

Many commentators argue the law was introduced to side-line Dakrouri after he ruled against the Egyptian-Saudi Maritime Border Demarcation agreement in June 2016. In the absence of the new law Dakrouri, as the oldest deputy chairman, would have automatically become chair of the State Council in June.

The State Council Commissioners’ Authority has already issued a non-binding report backing the appointment of Abul-Azm. The authority concluded the appointment followed all legal procedures stipulated in law 13/2017 and noted the president did not misuse the authority granted to him under the law. It did, however, recommend the law be referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court which should determine whether or not it violates the separation of powers guaranteed by the 2014 constitution. 

During Saturday’s court session Dakrouri’s lawyers were surprised by a decree, issued by Abul-Azm, removing Dakrouri’s name from State Council rolls on the grounds that he reaches retirement age on 1 December. Yet under current State Council regulations Dakrouri remains a member until the end of the judicial year which falls in June 2018.

The State Litigation Authority, representing the executive, asked the court to reject Dakrouri’s appeal, arguing that he will soon lose the condition of interest required for filing the case. 

Dakrouri has stressed that the appeal is not directed against the president or the current State Council chairman but “against legislation which undermines the independence of the judiciary”.

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