Afghan Supreme Court

Afghan Supreme Court

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Stera Mahkama or the Afghan Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

. It was created by the Constitution of Afghanistan
Constitution of Afghanistan
The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

, which was approved on January 4, 2004. Its creation was called for by the Bonn Agreement
Bonn Agreement (Afghanistan)
Officially the Agreement on Provisional Arrangements in Afghanistan Pending the Re-Establishment of Permanent Government Institutions, the Bonn Agreement was the initial series of agreements intended to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the...

, which read in part:
The judicial power of Afghanistan shall be independent and shall be vested in a Supreme Court of Afghanistan, and such other courts as may be established by the Interim Administration.


Currently, the nine-member court is made up of the following justices:
  • Chief Justice Abdul Salam Azimi
    Abdul Salam Azimi
    Abdul Salam Azimi Abdul Salam Azimi Abdul Salam Azimi (Pashtu:عبدالسلام عظیمی (born: 1936, in Farah Province) is the Chief Justice of Afghanistan and, as such, the head of the Afghan Supreme Court since May 2006....

  • Deputy Chief Justice Bahauddin Baha
    Bahauddin Baha
    Bahauddin Baha is the Deputy Chief Justice of the Afghan Supreme Court since 2006. A former Supreme Court Justice, Baha served as Legal Advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In 2002, Baha was appointed as the Chairman of the Independent Judicial Reform Commission...

  • Justice Abdul-Rasheed Rashid
  • Justice Gholam Nabi Nawai
  • Justice Zamen Ali Behsudi
  • Justice Mohammad Qasem
  • Justice Mohammad Alim Nasimi
  • Justice Mohammad Omar Barakzai
  • Justice Omid ullah Danish

The nine justices on the tribunal are appointed for 10-year terms by the president, with the approval of the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the nation's legislature. The president selects one of the nine members to serve as Chief Justice
Chief Justice of Afghanistan
The Chief Justice of Afghanistan is the head of the Afghan Supreme Court. The incumbent chief justice is Abdul Salam Azimi.-List of Chief Justices, 2001-present:*Faisal Ahmad Shinwari , was member of the Islamic Dawah Organisation of Afghanistan...

. The Afghan Constitution allows for judges to be trained in either civil or Islamic law. Matters of law with no provision in the constitution or other standing laws shall be judged by the Hanafi jurisprudence. The judiciary shall apply the Shia school of law in cases dealing with personal matters of those who are of the Shia sect, where applicable.

The Court was previously dominated by conservative religious figures and the former Chief Justice, Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari or Fazal Hadi Shinwari was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan from 2001 until 2006. He was appointed to the post by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in accordance with the Afghan Constitution approved after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government...

, in particular was described as "ultra conservative." Several of its rulings disappointed reform-minded Afghans and people in the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. For instance:
  • the court, during the 2004 presidential election campaign, sought to ban a candidate who questioned whether polygamy
    Polygamy
    Polygamy is a marriage which includes more than two partners...

     was in keeping with the spirit of Islam;
  • they have called for an end to cable television
    Cable television
    Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

     service in the country, at least pending government regulation, due in part to the apparent influence of films from Bollywood
    Bollywood
    Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai , Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing...

    , which were allegedly prurient;
  • the court upheld the death penalty for two journalists convicted of blasphemy
    Blasphemy
    Blasphemy is irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things. Some countries have laws to punish blasphemy, while others have laws to give recourse to those who are offended by blasphemy...

     for saying the Islam being practised in the country was reactionary;
  • they banned women from singing on television; and
  • they ruled that a girl, given as a bride when 9 years old and now 13, could not get a divorce from her abusive husband, notwithstanding a law that makes it illegal for girls under 16 to marry.
  • they ruled that the punishment for homosexuality
    Homosexuality
    Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

     is death, even through the penal code of 1976 stipulates long prison sentence for adultery and sodomy.


In 2006, President Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

 appointed several new, more moderate members to the court. However, he also chose to renominate Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari
Faisal Ahmad Shinwari or Fazal Hadi Shinwari was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Afghanistan from 2001 until 2006. He was appointed to the post by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in accordance with the Afghan Constitution approved after the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government...

 as Chief Justice. Despite controversy surrounding the validity of Shinwari's legal credentials, his nomination was allowed to continue, but ultimately failed when voted on in parliament. Karzai then chose his legal council, Abdul Salam Azimi
Abdul Salam Azimi
Abdul Salam Azimi Abdul Salam Azimi Abdul Salam Azimi (Pashtu:عبدالسلام عظیمی (born: 1936, in Farah Province) is the Chief Justice of Afghanistan and, as such, the head of the Afghan Supreme Court since May 2006....

, to succeed Shinwari. Azimi's nomination passed, and the new court was sworn in on August 5, 2006.

The current Afghan Chief Justice Azimi is considered a moderate
Moderate
In politics and religion, a moderate is an individual who is not extreme, partisan or radical. In recent years, political moderates has gained traction as a buzzword....

 by national standards.

See also

  • Politics of Afghanistan
    Politics of Afghanistan
    The politics of Afghanistan consists of the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly, with a president serving as the head of state and commander-in-chief of the military. The nation is currently led by the Karzai administration under President Hamid Karzai who is backed by two vice...