New powers transferred to Supreme Judicial Council

The Supreme Judicial Council has essentially taken authority over the Judicial Inspection Department from the Justice Ministry since 11 August, said Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky on Wednesday.

The power transfer comes in anticipation of a law that would officially grant these powers to the council. A letter from Mekky to Supreme Judicial Council head Mohamed Metwally discussing the matter was published today in Al-Masry al-Youm.

In the letter, Mekky said he has long insisted that the power of judicial inspection be transferred to the Supreme Judicial Council.

Mekky has allegedly nominated Zaghloul al-Balshy, the head of the Court of Cassation, to become the new head of judicial inspection as per the suggestion of Supreme Judicial Council members.

The Judicial Inspection Department monitors judges, appoints them to various posts within the court system and oversees their transferal from one position to another.

Under former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the Justice Ministry’s monitoring process was marred by nepotism and favoritism. Many voiced calls for the independence of the judiciary.

Mekky, Hesham al-Bastawisi and other judges led the judicial independence wave following the parliamentary elections in 2005. They exposed some incidents of rigging in the parliamentary election and published a list of judges which they said had been involved in falsifying the results of the vote.  Several judges were referred to disciplinary courts on orders from the then Minister of Justice Mahmoud Abul Leil after the judges whose names appeared in the lists complained.

The Supreme Judicial Council is headed by the Court of Cassation and deals with judiciary affairs. It is made up of elected members of the Court of Cassation and the Court of Appeals, and does not include members of the executive branch.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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