Guardian Council on Friday said it had rejected a second bill, proposed by President Mohammad Khatami, to boost presidential prerogatives against constitutional breaches, including during courts' prosecution of outspoken journalists.
Among the highlights of developments on the Iranian parliament floor Sunday was Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi's question from Karroubi who had been cited by the press as saying that meetings had been held with the Guardian Council to resolve the standoff.
"A section of the press quoted you as saying that lobbies over the bills have been successful, while no session has been held with the Guardian Council at all," Abtahi told the parliament speaker.
"My point was to have hope. Although no session has been held, I am still hopeful about it. After all, human beings are alive because of hope," answered Karroubi.
He said the bill on presidential power and another electoral reform bill have been sent back to the parliament by Guardian Council.
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 about the lack of necessary prerogatives to uphold the law, including against the courts' prosecution of journalists and intellectuals.
Opponents of the bill have denounced it as being contrary to the Constitution and paving the way for dictatorship.
The Guardian Council said Friday that it had rejected the bill and sent it back to the parliament for review on the ground it went against the Constitution.
The council, which vets parliament's bills to verify their compliance with the Islamic Sharia, said the bill as falling foul on at least 15 articles of the Constitution.
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 at the request of the president is tantamount to interference in judicial issues and prerogatives of the Judiciary," the Guardian Council said Friday, citing its reasons for the rejection.
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.
President Khatami has not made any comment after the rejection, while government spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, said he was unsure how President Mohammad Khatami would react to the 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.
Abtahi said Saturday that the council's rejection was 'very unexpected' for President Khatami.
"It was supposed that, given legal bases on which the bill had meticulously been devised, the Guardian Council would not pick faults (with it)," he said.
MP outraged at Guardian Council's rejection of twin bills Member of Parliament from Tehran Majid Ansari said on Sunday that the Guardian Council has violated the Constitution by turning down the two bills pertaining to the election law and the presidential mandate to ensure respect for the constitutional rights of the people, IRNA reported.
The veteran MP known as moderate expressed outrage at the Guardian Council's rejection of consultations offered by the two teams selected by Speaker of Parliament Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroubi.
"They even did not make an appointment with the two teams. It's regrettable. I see rejection of the two bills as a violation of the Constitution and I'm, sorry to say that I will join any protest that my colleagues may decide on later," said Ansari.
Upon the initial rejection of the two bills by the Guardian Council, Ansari recommended last month that the President and the Majlis speaker would take up the matter with the Supreme Leader asking for his intervention recalling the same situation that had been dealt with through the intervention of Vali-Faqih (Supreme Jurisprudent) in the past.
"The question is that the sixth parliament has faced a deadlock in doing its job of legislation. It's not acceptable for me. Everyone knows me as the patient and compromising figure in Majlis. I've been disappointed with what the Guardian Council is doing," he said.
By rejecting the bill on the election law, the Guardian Council does not accept to relinquish the extra power the fifth Majlis has given to the body.
The sixth parliament decided to take back the extra power from the Guardian Council and asked the body to operate within the authority envisaged in the Constitution.
"Yesterday, the representatives of the people gave extra power to the Guardian Council. The body accepted it. But, today, the Guardian Council rejects the representatives decision to take back the extra power," an MP advocating the bill said in a Majlis debate.
Constitutionally, the Interior Ministry is in charge of holding the election and examining the eligibility of the applicants for parliamentary elections.
The second bill empowers the president to stop enforcement of verdicts issued by courts of justice when the president considers them against the constitutional rights of people.
The president would forward his reservation about a certain verdict to the Supreme Court, according to a legislation passed last week.
The Guardian Council rejected the legislation too for interfering in the Judiciary's affairs.
But, the president documented on several cases of verdicts in which the constitutional rights of people have not been respected.
President Khatami has so far served several notices to the Judiciary about certain cases that he deemed to be in violation of the constitutional rights. Some of the notices were heeded, some not.
The president believes that the constitution has given the chief executive the right to protect the constitution and the constitutional rights of people and the bill aims to provide an executive law to enforce the constitutional right.
Freedom of expression, the major part of President Mohammad Khatami's election platform has become a stumbling block because of the hefty court sentences issued against some individuals while the defendants say that they did not overstep the boundaries of the law and only exercised their constitutional rights.
... Payvand News - 5/11/03 ... --