The Muslim Brotherhood might face yet another blow with an administrative court ruling set for tomorrow that could potentially ban the group altogether.
Following the Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood dominated parliament, Egypt’s Administrative court, headed by Ali Fikri, the Vice-President of the State Council, is set to rule on a case filed by the lawyer Shehata Mohamed Shehata. The postponed its verdict was initially scheduled for 29 May.
The lawsuit names Mohammed Badie, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood; Mohamed Morsi, presidential candidate and president of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party; as well as Field Marshal Hussien Tantawi; the prime minister, and the finance and social solidarity ministers for failing to register the Muslim Brotherhood as a legal entity.
In his case, Shehata argues that the Brotherhood has been illegal for almost 60 years according to a decision by the Gamal Abdel Nasser-led Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) to dissolve and ban the group in 1955.
He also added that the group has failed to register with the Egyptian Government in accordance with a July 2002 law that requires non-governmental entities not to participate in politics, which he says the Brotherhood is clearly violating by contesting elections and forming a political party.
Senior Muslim Brotherhood official and constitutional expert Sobhi Saleh explained that this case is baseless. According to Saleh, the RCC decision from 1955 is not a codified decision or law, having no date or official seal on it and having never being published in Al-Waqa’i’a al- Masriya, the official state paper.
To complicate matters further, the judge in Shehata’s case may still have to settle another case before ruling on this one. Shehata explains, “We have a case filed since 1977 against the state, arguing that there is no official dissolution decision against the group”. He explained that since the cases address the same matter and that the Brotherhood’s case was filed first, legally the judge is obliged first to rule whether or not Nasser’s decision was valid before addressing Shehata’s plea.
Although if the court decides to rule in Shehata’s favour, this would be the latest in a series of judicial blows directed at the Brotherhood. In April the Presidential Elections Committee disqualified their first choice for presidential candidacy, Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat El- Shater, and on Wednesday the Supreme Constitutional Court ruling dissolved the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament, where the FJP enjoyed a near majority of 47 percent of the seats.
Saad El Katatny, parliamentary speaker and a senior brotherhood official, said in a press release that the ruling does not mean the parliament is dissolved and that it is illegal to dissolve an elected body without holding a referendum, referring to similar cases in 1987 and 1990 when the SCC ruled the parliamentary election laws in place at the time were also illegal. Former President Hosni Mubarak held referendums both times before dissolving parliament.
El Katatni added that the March 2011 constitutional declaration does not give the power to dissolve parliament to any state body or person and thus the ruling could not be enforced. He said that he has referred the court ruling to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the parliament so that they can discuss the matter with several constitutional experts and make recommendations for a resolution.
Saleh, who is also deputy chair of the legislative committee, said that they met to discuss the legal avenues available although they have not released a statement outlining their next steps. “The ruling does not have executive phrasing because the SSC isn’t allowed to give executive rulings” Saleh said, indicating that the SCC can only advise on issues put before it.