Morsi swears the oath of office in front of the High Constitutional Court (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) has denied an allegation by President Mohamed Morsi that it leaks rulings before they are issued. The HCC said the allegation was part of an attack on its independence.
"There has been talk that the HCC is working to destroy state institutions and topple the regime, violate laws and the constitution to serve its political orientation, and that its members are chosen for their loyalty to the former regime … all of this is completely false," read a statement issued by the HCC on Wednesday.
The HCC said such accusations aimed to infringe upon in its authority and compromise its independence.
It had refused to comment earlier on "such low accusations" because its status did not allow it. However, "the president has conducted a non-stop attack against the HCC despite the fact that he became president by swearing an oath to the court."
The HCC said it had asked the president to provide proof and explain his accusation but had received no reply.
Moreover, the HCC said there was a plot to infringe upon its authority and independence because articles in the draft constitution defining its specialisation and authority had been circumvented in the final draft. This showed "there had been intentions to infringe upon judicial independence from the beginning."
The HCC statement stressed the following points:
1. The court will not be threatened, pressured or blackmailed and is willing to fight [for its independence] "even if it costs judges' lives."
2. The HCC knows the limits of its authority and does not infringe upon the authority of others
3. Despite its "disappointment" at what the country and the judiciary is going through and how this has impacted the HCC, it will continue in its mission "to achieve the freedom and rights of the nation."
The HCC's statement came in response President Morsi's speech to his supporters at the presidential palace on Friday, when he claimed the court had leaked its verdict to dissolve the Shura Council two weeks before the verdict was due to be delivered on 2 December.
The presidency and the judiciary have come into conflict since President Morsi issued his Constitutional Declaration giving his decisions immunity from court appeals until the new constitution is passed. The declaration also granted the Shura Council (upper house of parliament) and the controversial Islamist-led Constituent Assembly immunity from dissolution by court orders, despite current court cases challenging their constitutionality.
The HCC had earlier also come into conflict with the Constituent Assembly and Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki. It accused Mekki of proposing a law to eliminate it. It also objected to the articles outlining its authority proposed in the new draft constitution.