File Photo: Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi addresses the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on 23 April (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has rejected unanimously a draft bill that would grant the president the right to appoint the heads of the country's judiciary committees.
The opinion of the seven-member council, which oversees the administrative affairs and appointments of the regular judiciary, is not binding on parliament, an MP involved in the bill told Ahram Online.
After a meeting with parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee, which drafted the bill, the first deputy of Egypt's Court of Cassation and member of the SJC, Adel El-Shorbagy, said the council rejected the bill and was committed to the current selection of judicial committee heads based on seniority.
The draft law, which was submitted for review in December, states that the president will select new heads from three candidates nominated by each council.
According to El-Shorbagy the SJC will send a note to parliament with an official statement of their rejection of the draft law.
The existing judicial authority law stipulates that the heads of judicial bodies are selected by existing councils based on "seniority" only.
In December, the deputy head of the parliament's constitutional and legislative committee Ahmed Helmy El-Sherief submitted the bill to the State Council, the State Lawsuits Authority, and Administrative Prosecution, all of which would be affected by the changes in selection of heads.
In February the State Council also rejected the law.
El-Sherief on Sunday told Ahram Online that the committee is yet to receive the SJC's official notification of rejection.
"We have already received the State Council's refusal, and we are waiting for a response from the Administrative Prosecution and the State Lawsuits Authority," El-Sherief said.
He added that after the committee receives the three bodies' responses, they will hold a meeting to discuss next steps.
"The committee has the right after receiving the official responses to pass the bill, reject it, or amend it," he said, adding that the committee has the final say on the issue.
The Judges Club, a non-state association that includes many of the country's judges, said in December that it considers the draft law a major violation of Egypt's judicial system, saying it completely ignores seniority among judges, on the basis of which the heads of judicial council are appointed.
Article 185 of Egypt's constitution stipulates that each judicial body or organisation shall be consulted in regards to the drafting of bills regulating its affairs.