In a new round of muscle flexing, Iran’s head of the judiciary has bombarded the president with sarcastic comments, yet once again without naming names.
Responding to President Hassan Rouhani’s recent remarks, the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadiq Amoli Larijani, has insisted that people are not summoned to court because the justice department suffers from "idleness" and has nothing better to do.
Addressing a high-level meeting of judiciary officials in Tehran on October 9, Larijani slammed Rouhani and derided his achievements, reported the Iran Students News Agency (ISNA).
Hardliners have gone on the offensive in recent days, by imposing more restrictions on former President Mohammad Khatami and also arresting the brother of Rouhani's vice president, Eshaq Jahangairi's brother.
Two days earlier, at a meeting with Tehran university students, Rouhani had sarcastically commented, “There’s a chance that some entities have nothing to do; therefore, to create work for themselves, they summon a number of people [to the courts].”
While criticizing what he branded “unhealthy political competition,” Rouhani also disapproved that after elections, “one is rewarded and the other faction is punished.”
Still without naming names, Rouhani referred to new restrictions imposed on reformist former President Mohammad Khatami and said he was someone who had an impact on society.
Larijani, for his part, dismissed Rouhani’s comments as unfair, adding, “It is not out of idleness that the justice department summons people to [the courts]. It does it on the basis of its principal and intrinsic duty and for applying justice.”
The judiciary head went further, lambasting Rouhani’s record by insisting, “If there is idleness and unemployment [in Iran], it is because of you who dropped all of the country’s affairs for the sake of ‘beating your chest’ in praise of JCPOA. [You were so busy celebrating the nuclear deal] as if there were nothing else to do for the country.”
Larijani, cautioned, “We are not only busy but we are also firmly standing on our legal path.”
Reminding Rouhani of his duty as president, he asserted, “You are dutybound to support the judiciary as it is one of the pillars of the [Iranian ruling] system, as the judiciary has also supported the government in its totality through past years.”
Furthermore, Larijani explicitly threatened unnamed individuals, maintaining, “It is a crime to charge and insult the judiciary and put obstacles in its way. I warn those who commit such crimes and remind them that the judiciary’s tolerance is not limitless.”
This is not the first time Larijani and Rouhani have traded barbs.
The judiciary is particularly unhappy with Rouhani’s initiative labeled as the Citizens’ Charter.
“The Citizens’ Rights Headquarters creates a national institution parallel to the [already existing] High Council for Human Rights affiliated with the judiciary,” Larijani said on July 2. “This is an unlawful move, and it is against shari’a (religious law).”
The other bone of contention between the two is the situation of the Green Movement leaders who have been under house arrest since February 2011.
While Rouhani has repeatedly promised to help lifting the house arrests, the judiciary has always defended the sentence.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have always sided with the judiciary against Rouhani.
However, Rouhani’s attacks against the judiciary have intensified since his first deputy’s brother was detained and new restrictions were imposed on Khatami.