The head of the Egypt Judges Club, Mohamed Abdel Mohsen, has criticised the Supreme Judicial Council for failing to back the club in its opposition to the newly ratified judicial authority law, saying the judiciary is suffering as a result of the crisis over the new law.
In a statement on Saturday, Abdel Mohsen stressed that "it is now a duty to present a united front, end disputes and clarify objectives" to ensure the will of the judges prevails.
On Thursday night, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified a new judicial authority law prepared by parliament and passed on Wednesday by a majority of more than two thirds of MPs in the House of Representatives.
The new law gives the president the right to choose the heads of Egypt’s judicial bodies from three nominees out of the seven most senior judges proposed from within each body, thus ending the decades-old system of choosing the heads of judicial bodies based on absolute seniority.
The law was passed despite objections from the Egypt Judges’ Club and other regional judiciary clubs, which said that the legislation undermines the independence of the judiciary.
The State Council Club and the Judge's Club, meanwhile, called on on El-Sisi not to ratify the law, said Abdel Mohsen.
The Supreme Judicial Council, the governing body responsible for the administrative affairs of the ordinary judiciary, asked the Judge's Club to delay sending an alternative draft judiciary law prepared and approved by the club's general assembly to parliament before the legislature voted to pass its own version on 26 April, added Abdel Mohsen.
Abdel Mohsen also said the Supreme Judiciary Council failed to explain its reasoning for opposing parliament's draft law in writing.
The Judges Club called for a general assembly on 5 May to discuss its plan of action in response to the new law, according to Abdel Mohsen's statement, but the move "did not get any support from the Supreme Judicial Council or the Ministry of Justice."
Mohamed Hamed El-Gamal, a veteran judge and former head of Egypt's State Council, told Ahram Online that "the newly ratified law is unconstitutional and represents an assault on the [independent] authority of the judiciary."
The passage of the new law requires coordinated action from the judges, such as filing an appeal against it before the Supreme Constitutional Court," El-Gamal argued.
On Saturday, the Administrative Prosecution Body, which is part of the State Council, submitted the names of three nominees, selected according to seniority, to head the body, in line with the new law.
The State Council also decided on Saturday to call for a general assembly on 13 May to nominate deputies to succeed current head Mohamed Masoud who is due to leave his post 19 July.