Court Seeks to Limit Shariah

Iraq’s parliamentary Legal Committee said on Nov. 13, that the High Judicial Council has reservations regarding a law stipulating that Islamic Shariah jurists have the right to “veto” laws. Controversy over the Federal Court Act has been caught in a vicious circle since the act was first proposed by the government more than a year ago. 

The dispute revolves around a number of issues: the fact that Islamic Shariah jurists — who are members of the court — were given the right to veto laws, the possible unification of the court chairmanship and the High Judicial Council chairmanship, and the mechanisms to appoint the court’s chairman. 

Azad Abou Bakr, a member of the parliamentary Legal Committee, told Al-Hayat that “the judiciary expressed its reservations regarding an article on Islamic Shariah jurists, since it would change the court’s character from legal to juristic, as was mentioned in the High Judicial Council’s letter to the committee. 

Therefore, the committee is required to review the bill.” He explained that “the bill will be presented for debate in parliament next week and there are attempts to pass it alongside other laws, such as the prisoner amnesty and deferred-payment laws. 

He added: “Political differences will once again prevent voting on the Federal Court and the High Judicial Council laws, although both laws were drafted more than a year ago. The controversy began when parliamentary blocs were requested to grant Islamic Shariah jurists the right to veto in court and to revoke laws adopted by parliament. 

However, other parliamentary blocs considered that request a consolidation of religious concepts in a civil state.” Bakr continued: “It is impossible to give a specific group the right to use the veto against a majority in court.” 

National Alliance MP Hassoun al-Fatlawi told Al-Hayat that “the alliance insists on granting the veto right to Islamic Shariah jurists in court, because the constitution stipulated that and stressed that the judiciary must respect the principles of Islam.”Fatlawi, also a member of the al-Mowaten parliamentary bloc, explained that al-Mowaten and the Sadrist Movement parliamentary bloc adopted this position more than a year ago. 

Head of the Iraqiya List Ayad Allawi expressed his willingness to attend the national conference convened by President Jalal Talabani, provided that three demands are fulfilled, namely a commitment to implement the Erbil agreement, find a solution the issue of political prisoners, and settle the Federal Court Act. 

By: Omar Sattar. Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).

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