The Egyptian State Council's Judges Club announced it would not supervise the upcoming parliamentary elections in objection to the new Judicial Authority Law, which was approved by the Parliament on Wednesday.
The Parliament's approval came in a general session when MPs were suddenly asked to vote on the draft law without any discussion of the observations mentioned in a report by the State Council after it had rejected the proposed amendments.
The Club called for an emergency general assembly for the State Council on Wednesday evening, expressing "confidence in the wisdom of the President to [prioritze] constituional legitimacy and protect the independence of the Judicial Authority".
"It will be recorded in history that the Parliament has demolished the independence of the judiciary and crashed the provisions of the Constitution for the sake of replaceable people," the statement read.
"We were surprised by the House of Representatives' approval of the Judicial Authority bill despite being unconstitutional and being rejected by the Supreme Judicial Council and the Judges Club," the statement added.
The bill was not voted on in accordance to the regulations of the House of Representatives, as a large number of MPs objected to its discussion and withdrew from the session, the statement continued.
The new draft law stipulates that the President would appoint the heads of the judiciary authorities, chosing from among the three vice-chairmen of each judicial body, nominated by the supreme council of that body from among the seven oldest deputies.
The newly-passed law is contrary to the old system, whereby the head of an authority would be appointed by who has the absolute seniority — a concept considered by State Council's Judges Club as "one of the established principles and legal constants 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.
Judges called the law a violation of the independence of the judiciary and an unnecessary change in stable norms and traditions
The Judges Club statement said that even after the President selects a chairman for the Court of Cassation in accordance to the new bill, the general assembly of the Court of Cassation can still consult and choose another to run its affairs.
In a phone-in to a 10 pm program on Dream Channel, Samir al-Bahy, chairman of the State Council Judges Club, asserted that the goal of passing these amendments to how the heads of judicial bodies are selected is to dismiss Judge Yehia al-Dakrouy as head of the State Council on July 1.
Dakroury is the one who issued a ruling in June 2016 that nullified the Red Sea islands demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia.
Bahy added that the Red Sea islands case is the reason behind the insistence on amending the Judicial Authority Law. "I hope we will not resort to internationalizing the case. There are some voices calling for this, but God willing, we will not do that," he stated.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm