Iran News ...


5/10/03

Iran: Council's quashing of bill "very unexpected" to Khatami

Supervisory Guardian Council's rejection of a bill which sought to shore up presidential powers was "very unexpected" to President Mohammad Khatami, his deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs Mohammad Ali Abtahi said in Tehran on Saturday, IRNA reported.

The Guardian Council said Friday that it had rejected the bill and sent it back to the parliament for review on the ground it contradicted the Constitution.

The council, which vets parliament's bills to verify their compliance with the Islamic Sharia law, cited the bill as falling foul of at least 15 articles of the Constitution.

Abtahi said "the large volume of the faults (which the GC has found with the bill) indicates that the council has not paid attention from legal perspective to the contents of the government's bill".

"It was supposed that, given legal bases on which the bill had meticulously been devised, the Guardian Council would not pick up faults, which naturally have blunt and clear responses," he said.

The official said the government will publicize in the earliest its responses to all the cases which the Guardian Council has cited as contravening the Constitution.

Abtahi cited Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's "transparent views on the need to guarantee the executive power of the president on full implementation of the Constitution".

"The Guardian Council could have been taken those views into effect and attended to them but unfortunately it did not and this is why to believe the Guardian Council's decision is unexpected," he added.

Abtahi announced the government's mulling of "presenting documents and explanations" which may win favor with the Guardian Council to retract its rejection of the bill.

Press Saturday cited Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi as saying that lobbies were underway with the Guardian Council to retract its quashing of the bill.

"Mehdi Karroubi stressed that he is hopeful about the result of lobbies regarding Khatami's bills," the Persian daily Iran said.

"Our lobbies successfully continue and they have definitely not failed," the paper cited him as saying.

Meanwhile, Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said here Saturday that he was unsure how President Mohammad Khatami would react to supervisory body's decision.

"I don't know how the president will react but Mr. Khatami has repeatedly announced that this bill is the least demand to serve the people," he told IRNA when asked about the president's probable reaction.

According to the Guardian Council, top among the violations is to entrust power to the president to warn the Judiciary on constitutional breaches and mete out punishment if the warning is not heeded.

"Requiring the Judiciary, tribunals and judges to probe into (certain violations) merely on the request of the president is tantamount to interference in juridical issues and prerogatives of the Judiciary," the Guardian Council said Friday, citing its reasons for the rejection.

President Khatami first announced last August his intention to present the bill to the parliament "in order to respond better to the aspirations of the people".

Khatami, who came into power in 1997 on a mandate to establish a civil society and the rule of law, has repeatedly complained of lacking necessary prerogatives to uphold the law, including against the courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.

The bill had received an overwhelming backing of the parliament.

Opponents of the bill have denounced it as being contrary to the Constitution and paving the way for dictatorship.

Last month, an official of the supervisory Guardian Council lashed out at the bill, describing it dangerously "unconstitutional" and pledging to veto it.

Khatami himself has brushed aside the 'ballyhoo' made by the opponents of the bill and said that he was hopeful about the Guardian Council's cooperation in passing it.

Other supervisory mechanisms should be designed to meet Khatami's requirements: daily

`Iran News' on Saturday wrote that some other supervisory mechanisms, other than that projected in the recently rejected `twin bills' by the country's supervisory Guardian Council (GC), should be designed to meet the requirements of President Mohammad Khatami.

The GC recently rejected Khatami's proposed twin bills, that called for more empowerment to the president to enable him better carry out his constitutional obligations, as contradicting at least 5 articles of the Constitution, including the president's power to warn the judiciary on constitutional breaches and mete out punishment if the warning is not heeded. The said bills were sent to the Guardian Council after final ratification by the Majlis on April 14, 2003.

Since the rejection of the proposed bills may lead to a new round of political debates in the upcoming days, it is necessary to make a basic distinction between these two bills, the daily suggested.

Firstly, the paper noted, in today's world, "the approbatory supervision over the votes of the people both before and after the elections will cast serious doubt on the freedom of elections and their democratic nature and make the people's presence perfunctory."

As for the president's influence on the Judiciary and the verdicts issued by it, the daily pointed out, "the bill contradicts the principle of independence of the powers as defined by Montesquieu."

In other words, "if the president is to interfere in the affairs of the Judiciary on the pretext of supervision, it would jeopardize the independence of the Judiciary, which is a breach of the Constitution," it explained.

In light of this, it would be better to adopt other suitable supervisory mechanisms, other than that projected in the proposed bills, to be designed to meet the president's requirements, it suggested.

This mechanism must be implemented through another official, such as the minister of justice, who also attends Cabinet meetings, by delegating a more active role to him, it added.

"Perhaps the Constitution must be reviewed closely to give a better supervisory role to the President according to its articles or through changes to be made in it," the paper continued.

Or an approach must be taken to make the Judiciary pronounce more comprehensive verdicts which coincide with the overall interests of all three powers, including the Legislature and the Executive, the paper concluded.

Government spokesman unsure of Khatami's reaction to rejection of bill

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said here Saturday that he was unsure how President Mohammad Khatami would react to supervisory Guardian Council's rejection of a bill to shore up the president's powers.

"I don't know how the president will react but Mr. Khatami has repeatedly announced that this bill is the least demand to serve the people," he told IRNA when asked about the president's probable reaction.

The Guardian Council said Friday that it had rejected the bill and sent it back to the parliament for review on the ground it contradicted the Constitution.

The council, which vets parliament's bills to verify their compliance with the Islamic Sharia law, cited the bill as falling foul of at least 15 articles of the Constitution.

Among the violations is to entrust power to the president to warn the judiciary on constitutional breaches and mete out punishment if the warning is not heeded, the council said.

"Requiring the Judiciary, tribunals and judges to probe into (certain violations) merely on the request of the president is tantamount to interference in juridical issues and prerogatives of the judiciary," the Guardian Council said.

Ramezanzadeh said the issue would probably be discussed in the upcoming cabinet session this week.

President Khatami first announced last August his intention to present the bill to the parliament "in order to respond better to the aspirations of the people".

Khatami, who came into power in 1997 on a mandate to establish a civil society and the rule of law, has repeatedly complained of lacking necessary prerogatives to uphold the law, including against the courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.

The bill had received an overwhelming backing of the parliament.

Press Saturday cited Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karroubi as saying that lobbies were underway with the Guardian Council to retract its quashing of the bill.

"Mehdi Karroubi stressed that he is hopeful about the result of lobbies regarding Khatami's bills," the Persian daily Iran said.

"Our lobbies successfully continue and they have definitely not failed," the paper cited him as saying.

Opponents of the bill have denounced it as being contrary to the Constitution and paving the way for dictatorship.

Last month, an official of the supervisory Guardian Council lashed out at the bill, describing it dangerously "unconstitutional" and pledging to veto it.

"The despotism written into this law is very terrible and the next president would not leave any right to judges and nobody could do anything without the president's permission," a Guardian Council official, Hassan Mirdamadi, had said in the central Yazd province.

Khatami had brushed aside the 'ballyhoo' made by the opponents of the bill and said that he was hopeful about the Guardian Council's cooperation in passing it.

Vice President for legal and parliamentary affairs, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, had said that he saw no reason for the oversight body to veto the bill.

"On the advice of Mr. Khatami, the bill to outline presidential powers has been devised with care and scruple. Thus, there is no reason for the Guardian Council to reject it," Abtahi said last month.

... Payvand News - 5/10/03 ... --



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