Constitutional Court Adjourns Key Lawsuit On Status Of Shura Council

Egypt’s High Constitutional Court (HCC) adjourned three politically significant lawsuit: the constitutionality of the Shura Council (the upper house parliament that currently holds legislative power) and the legality of the second Constituent Assembly which drafted the country’s current constitution, and two appeals against the emergency law, to 2 June, 2013.

The first case on the Shura Council challenges the legality of the law that governed elections to the body. Notably, in June 2012, the HCC declared the People’s Assembly (the lower house of parliament) unconstitutional on the basis of the same electoral law. The People’s Assembly was then dissolved.

The second case is a complaint challenging the legality of Egypt’s second Constituent Assembly, which formulated the current constitution. The lawsuit challenges the criteria used to appoint members of the body by the People’s Assembly.

The first Constituent Assembly, appointed by the People’s Assembly dominated by Islamists making up approximately 70 percent of its number, was dissolved by an administrative court in April 2012.

During Sunday’s hearing, one of the lawyers who filed the complaint against the Constituent Assembly, Khaled Fouad decided Sunday to withdraw from the case, “to maintain stability and security in the Egyptian legislature”, Ahram Arabic news website reported. His decision initiated some scuffles between other lawyers who had also taken part in lodging the complaint.

The third case which is still being looked into, are two appeals calling for the dissolution of Law 162/1958, more popularly known as the emergency law. While the law is currently not in effect, the two complaints claim it can be used at any time by authorities to impose a state of emergency.

Emergency law was in place throughout the 30-year rule of former president Hosni Mubarak. Ending emergency law was among the key demands of the January 2011 uprising. Articles in the law allow the police to detain suspects indefinitely, eliminate constitutional rights and cut down on press freedoms.