Legal experts debate court’s jurisdiction on Constituent Assembly appeal

4 Min Read

By Heba Hesham

CAIRO: A court official denied that a verdict was issued against the decision to give MPs 50 percent of the Constituent Assembly that would draft the constitution.

Councilor Mohamed Kandil, head of the technical office of the Administrative Courts of the State Council, denied Wednesday news of a verdict against a decision announced by parliament to assign 50 MPs to the 100-member assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution.

The People’s Assembly and the Shoura Council decided Saturday that 50 percent of the assembly will be comprised of MPs, after which political powers instantly denounced the selection criteria.

Pundits said the decision would result in unfair representation in an assembly meant to draw out Egypt’s new constitution.

Both the upper and lower houses of parliament are dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Part and the hardline Salafi Al-Nour Party.

Activist Ruby Gomaa, secretary general of Al-Ahrar Party in Aswan, had said that the Cairo constituency of the Administrative Court of the State Council ruled on the urgent part of the appeal he filed on behalf of a number of political powers to annul parliament’s decision.

Kandil insisted that no verdict has been issued and the case is under consideration by the court.

“After I got the verdict, I heard the denial from the technical office … which doesn’t have the authority to interfere in the judiciary. I went to court to check the case file only to find it has disappeared. I believe someone intended to hide it,” Gomaa told Daily News Egypt.

He plans to go to the police with these developments and then re-file the case.

Kandil told state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that parliament’s decision regarding the make-up of the assembly is not an administrative one to be considered by the Administrative Court; instead, it is a legislative case beyond the jurisdiction of the State Council.

However, Nasser Amin, head of the Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession, said the decision is indeed within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Court because it entails a parliamentary task that leads to legislation.

“Parliament has surpassed its authority, violating Article 60 of the constitutional declaration to make unjust decisions,” he argued, saying this is why this is the court meant to study the case.

Various political streams have been embroiled in a debate about the interpretation of Article 60 of the constitutional declaration, which states that the MPs should elect members of the constituent assembly to draft the constitution within six months and then call for a referendum within 15 days.

Had the appeal been on the constitutionality of the decision, Amin added, then it would have been under the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court.

Councilor Ahmed Mekky, former head of the Court of Cassation, said if parliament’s decision was an administrative one that violates a constitutional text, then the Administrative Court should refute the case and refer it to the Constitutional Court.

Amin added that the verdict, if issued, is enforceable because it has an urgent nature and can be appealed by parliament.

However, Councilor Ashraf Eliwa, board member of the Judges Club, said the verdict is not enforceable until it is final. “Parliament in this case has the right not to implement the verdict,” he said.

Eliwa added that since the constitutional declaration gives parliament the right to establish the Constituent Assembly, then only public opinion can force it to change the 50-50 proposal, which is seen as unrepresentative of all sectors of society.

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