File photo: the State Council building in Cairo (Photo: Ahram Arabic news website)
Judge Yehia El-Dakroury, the senior-most judge on Egypt’s State Council, filed an appeal on Thursday with the High Administrative Court to suspend president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's decision to bypass him as the council’s senior-most judge in appointing a new head of the council.
The appointment was in accordance with the newly ratified law that expands presidential powers in appointing the heads of judicial bodies.
El-Dakroury also asked the court to refer the new law (13/2017) to the Supreme Constitutional Court to determine if it violates the country's 2014 constitution.
Law 13/2017 states that the boards of judicial authorities are to nominate to the president three judges as candidates for the heads of their respective authorities.
The law states that if the boards fail to fulfil the nomination requirement, the president has the right to choose a new head from among the seven senior-most judges on the board.
In May, the State Council, which publicly opposed law 13/2017 – citing concerns over the impact of the law on the independence of the judiciary vis a vis the executive branch – selected El-Dokroury as its sole nominee for the position of head of the council to replace the outgoing head.
In July, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sis appointed judge Ahmed Abu Al-Azm, the fourth senior-most judge on the State Council, as the new head of the council after the outgoing head reached the age of retirement.
In the past few weeks, the president appointed new heads of three other judicial bodies – the Administrative Prosecution, the State Lawsuits Authority and the Cassation Court – after each nominated a list of three candidates after the retirement of outgoing heads.
Last month, El-Dakroury filed a grievance with the presidency against the decision to bypass him for head of the council as the senior-most sitting judge, saying the decision violates the spirit of constitutional articles safeguarding the principle of honouring judges' seniority in the formation of judicial bodies.