CAIRO: Judges said Thursday they will not oversee elections unless they are granted full supervisory authorities via constitutional amendments.
They judges also said they will form a committee to issue a new draft constitution.
A statement issued by the Judges’ Club demanded immediate amendments to the judiciary authority law to diminish Minister of Justice Mamdouh Marei’s authorities regarding judiciary inspection and appointments of judges.
"It is the best time now to present our demands since it is only an interim government and the minister, in favor of judiciary inspection, isn't guaranteed to stay for long," said Ahmed Al-Zend, head of the Judges’ Club.
The demands included transferring the authority of judiciary inspection to the Supreme Judiciary Council rather than the minister, cancelling all the minister's authorities stated in the judiciary authority law and binding the ministry not to issue any decrees of appointment, transferring or punishing of judges until the law is reformed.
They also included binding the minister to execute all final court rulings and called for penalizing anyone who fails to execute rulings by imprisonment and isolation.
Judges say that the minister represents the executive authority and is allowed to interfere in judicial issues, which contradicts the principles of judiciary independence and separation between authorities.
"We call on the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to choose representatives among themselves and start a dialogue with judges to hear their suggestions and vision regarding constitutional amendments, political rights law and judiciary authority law," the statement read.
The Judges’ Club is set to hold a general assembly on March 18 to discuss constitutional amendments and internal affairs.
"Article 88 of the constitution must be amended to guarantee complete judicial supervision for us to be responsible of the electoral process or else we won't participate in any elections," Al-Zend said.
"We will form a committee of respectful judiciary figures to draft a complete constitution," he added.
Al-Zend said that the judges didn't wish to issue any statements regarding the events in Egypt due to their critical position; however, they are aware of the people’s demands and aspirations and support them.
He said that judges should have been represented in the committee assigned to amend the constitution.
On the other hand, a number of judges started collecting signatures demanding the resignation of Al-Zend citing his "pro-regime stance during the revolution."
"We couldn't take any stance before Hosni Mubarak’s resigned due to the critical status of judges; however, everyone is free to express their opinion but they must collect 9,000 signatures to discharge me from my post," Al-Zend said.
A number of judges participated in protests in Tahrir Square during the revolution.