The state’s centenary and constitutional life in Jordan

Taghreed Hikmat, a judge on the Constitutional Court of Jordan who served as Jordan’s first female judge, at her home in Amman
Taghreed Hikmat (Photo: Jordan News)
The celebration of the centenary of the Great Arab Revolt is a celebration of the Hashemite leadership’s achievements.اضافة اعلان

Constitutional achievements crowned by the establishment of the Constitutional Court speak volumes for how far this country has gone to stand out as a story of success in the eyes of the world.

The revival of this national occasion is a historic opportunity to continue working for the future, to reinforce the will to achieve more, to uphold the values of leadership, to evoke the achievements of ancestors, to be proud of what has been achieved, and to celebrate the centenary for what it stands for in terms of a unique national brand and guiding values.

We recall the most important historical national milestones, foremost of which is the achievement of the Kingdom’s independence declared by the founder of the Jordanian state, the late King Abdullah I, who was martyred at the threshold of Al-Aqsa.

The key developments in the constitutional life in Jordan are also signature achievements, starting in the early formative years of the Jordanian state, particularly in 1924, when the then Emir, and later King Abdullah I, ordered the establishment of a committee to draft a basic law as a constitution for the state.

The committee completed its work in the same year 1924, and made its recommendations.

However, due to the difficulty of the situation at that time, stemming from the conditions of the region and the British mandate, its recommendations were not implemented until 1928.

However, it turned out that such an outcome was not satisfactory, failing to accommodate the aspirations for a democratic state, due to a set of regional and international circumstances and conditions that prevailed in the Arab region, including the French-British dispute as two powers mandated to administer the region. These circumstances persisted for about 20 years until 1946.

Despite the declaration of the independence of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, this law did not come into existence until 1947.

Although that Basic Law (the Constitution) helped the country take advanced and sophisticated steps, it did not contain all the ingredients for the envisioned democratic state and failed to meet the demands and needs of citizens to establish a fully-fledged democratic structure.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine in 1948 led to the declaration of the unity of the two banks on April 24, 1950, following the Jericho conference, which resulted in the formation of the first parliamentary council to annex the two banks.

The aforementioned council represented the unity of the two banks equally on condition of preserving the Palestinian identity.

At that time, the Jordanian government formed a new committee to draft a constitution that was presented to Parliament, and this law had a contractual nature with the approval of figures representing the people in the two banks.

The 1952 constitution was promulgated during the reign of King Talal after the assassination of the founding king.

With this accomplishment, the Kingdom entered a new stage of political development and had one of the best Arab constitutions in the modern era.

It was a groundbreaking step in the development of political action, and it was published in the Official Gazette on January 1, 1952, containing very clear ground rules on governance and orientation towards democracy.

Another milestone was the National Charter, drafted in 1989 in line with the principle of the rule of law and the independence of the judicial power.

The charter included a historical introduction and eight chapters. The second addressed the need to establish a constitutional court, and identified the terms of reference towards that end.

But the court did not come into existence until after the Constitution was amended in 2011 and a law was enacted the following year. According to the constitutional amendments, the Constitutional Court became the only judicial authority competent to review the constitutionality of laws in Jordan, and, subsequently, constitutional oversight in Jordan shifted from a decentralized to a centralized mode.

A Royal Decree was issued on October 6, 2012 appointing the president and nine members of the Constitutional Court.

The two constitutional provisions and the law affirm that the court is a judicial body, and the rules pertaining to judges are applied to the members of this court, such as non-dismissal, disciplinary guarantees, and others. In the outcome, Jordanians saw the creation of a court that is independent and self-standing, meaning that it is not considered part of the judicial authority.

The establishment of the Constitutional Court came in light of the comprehensive reform that His Majesty King Abdullah II adopted since his accession to the Throne, and it was part of the comprehensive system that His Majesty had envisioned, guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of the citizen on the one hand, and the consolidation of the principle of separation of powers and their distribution on the other.

Control over the constitutionality of laws and regulations in force is achieved through direct appeals granted to each of the Council of Ministers, the Lower House, and the Senate, and indirect appeals through the right to plead unconstitutionality granted to any of the parties to a case pending before any court. If this court finds that the case is solid, it must refer it to the Court of Cassation for the purposes of deciding on the matter of referring it to the Constitutional Court.

As for the interpretation of the text of the Constitution, it was entrusted for the first time in the history of the Jordanian state to an independent judicial body, which is the Constitutional Court, after it was assumed by the Special Bureau in the early years of the Jordanian state (the emirate) and the Kingdom under the Basic Law of Transjordan in 1928.

The court’s general framework is the provisions of the Constitution and its special reason to declare the laws in question unconstitutional was their infringement on the rights and freedoms of Jordanians stipulated in Chapter Two of the Constitution under the heading “The rights and duties of Jordanians.”

Since its inception on October 6, 2012, the court has issued 34 rulings and 17 interpretative decisions that championed the Constitution. In its provisions, it affirmed its protection of the rights to equality, personal freedoms, litigation, private property, and the inviolability of public money.

In my opinion, hearing the unconstitutionality appeal or the request to interpret the Constitution’s texts is a very accurate process, where a deep research and comparison character is inherent, requiring multiple sessions, listening to the members of the entire court’s general body, and analyzing and interpreting their contributions.

The incumbent President of the Constitutional Court Hisham Al-Tal is also the current president of the Union of Arab Constitutional Courts and Councils. He called for a meeting of the Federation’s Executive Office last April in the Dead Sea to develop a comprehensive plan for the union’s work and activate its role in serving the constitutional judiciary in Arab countries through stepping up cooperation among its members, exchanging rulings and information, and supporting the federation’s electronic library at the permanent headquarters of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo

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