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Egypt's Shura Council approves further discussions on controversial judiciary law

Amid existing tension with the judiciary on its authority to do so, Egypt's Shura Council gives green light for the discussion of the controversial amendment proposal of the judicial authority law

Ahram Online, El-Sayed Gamal, Saturday 25 May 2013
Shura Council
Egyptian Shura Council members meet to the discuss the government's 2013-2014 budget at the Shura Council, Parliament's upper house, Tuesday April 23, 2013 (Photo: AP)
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Egypt's Islamist-dominated Upper House (Shura Council) has approved, Saturday, the referral of the contentious amendment proposal of the judicial authority law to the body's legislative committee for detailed review.

The decision comes amid strong criticism of the proposal from judges and opposition parties, who argue that the Shura Council is not constitutionally authorized to amend the law.

Prior to the Council's decision, speaker of the Shura Council Ahmed Fahmi had said that if the council approves the referral of the amendments to the Legislative Committee, the latter will then begin a series of discussions in which judges will engage.

In a related note, head of Egypt's State Council judge Ghobrial Abdel-Malak called for an emergency meeting for the State Council's head judges to respond to what he described as a 'vicious attack' against the judiciary by some MPs during their speeches at the session.

The proposed amendments to the Judicial Authority Law, presented in April by the moderate Islamist Wasat Party and endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, had since caused uproar among judges in the ongoing crisis between the judiciary and Islamists.

The proposed bill reduces the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60, which would effectively pension off about a quarter of Egypt's 13,000 serving judges.

MPs who proposed the law argue that the retirement age was gradually increased from 60 to 70 during the rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, in order to prolong the terms of those judges loyal to the former regime.

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