The State Council and its Judges Club strongly rejected proposed amendments to the 2012 constitution which would see a portion of the State Council’s jurisdiction trimmed.
In an emergency general assembly held on Saturday, the club stressed it stands against any suggestions to take the judicial disciplinary board away from the State Council’s jurisdiction, reported state-run news agency MENA. The proposed article gave the judicial disciplinary board to the Administrative Prosecution instead.
The State Council’s general assembly condemned what it described as “conspiracies to dismantle the State Council and rob it of its jurisdictions”, adding that it shall remain in permanent session until conflict is over and the State Council “reclaims its jurisdictions”, reported MENA.
The head of the State Council authority also met with interim President Adly Mansour on Saturday, alongside heads of other judiciary authorities, to look into the conflict.
Farid Tanagho, State Council chairman, told MENA that the meeting with the president put an end to the controversy among heads of judiciary authorities. He added that the meeting’s attendees reached consensus over keeping the State Council’s jurisdictions in the new constitution.
The proposal to grant the disciplinary judiciary jurisdiction to the Administrative Prosecution was made to the 50-member constituent assembly tasked with amending the 2012 constitution, stirring controversy as soon as it was discussed.
The judicial disciplinary board is tasked with looking into court cases filed against state employees. The State Council Judges Club stated that the dual judiciary system Egypt follows dictates that the State Council represents the courts of general jurisdiction and courts of common law; disciplinary judiciary thus falling under the category.
Hamdy Yassin, head of the State Council Judges Club and deputy chairman of the State Council, said that the State Council has been handling the judicial disciplinary board for over 60 years.
“How could they suddenly take such a jurisdiction away from the specialised authority and get a new authority to train them on handling it?” Yassin questioned. He claimed the State Council’s different jurisdictions were seen as “spoils” which everybody is trying to “snatch away”.
Yassin stated that the controversial proposals also suggest other parts of the State Council’s jurisdiction are given to the State Litigation Authority. He said that though President Mansour expressed his support for the State Council’s position, his opinion on the matter isn’t binding. “It’s up to the constituent assembly to make the final decision on the State Council’s jurisdiction.”
The State Council Judges Club head urged the constituent assembly not to “succumb to personal desires” represented in stripping the State Council of its jurisdiction. He claimed that the controversial proposal stems from the desire of some members of the Administrative Prosecution authority to “stand on the [judiciary] platform”.
Abdallah Qandil, head of the Administrative Prosecution Club, said the proposed amendment is in the citizens’ best interest. Qandil said that the Administrative Prosecution, which handles the investigation of employees referred to disciplinary judiciary, is more informed about disciplinary cases than the State Council and thus more entitled to look into them.
“The Administrative Prosecution has 4200 members,” Qandil said. “At least half this number can be tasked with looking into disciplinary cases. Whereas the State Council only has 105 judges who can look into such cases. Therefore disciplinary cases remain pending for years, stalling employees’ progress in the meantime.”
Qandil denied that the proposal would lack legitimacy since it makes the prosecutor into the case also a judge on it. “The contradiction would only occur if the same person who investigates the case ends up ruling on it,” Qandil said. “We have 4200 members, 2000 of them can handle the investigation and the other 2000 can handle the judicial disciplinary board.”
Qandil said the Administrative Prosecution Club condemned Mansour’s stance on the matter and accused him of not being neutral.
“It is up to the constituent assembly to reorganise the judiciary institution,” Qandil said. “We entirely trust them to do the right thing.”
Article 174 of the now stalled 2012 constitution gives the State Council the jurisdictions of ruling on all administrative conflicts as well as handling disciplinary reports and appeals.