The outspoken deputy speaker of Iran's parliament has once again accused an influential conservative arbitration body of overstepping its legal authority and interfering in legislative procedures.
Ali Motahari has lambasted the Expediency Discernment Council for its role in blocking the passage of President Hassan Rouhani's four proposals collectively known as the "Palermo Bills" in Iran, adding that the arbitration council is “dreaming of becoming the Senate”.
The Palermo Bills, if adopted, would pave the way for the country to meet the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements -- as well as those of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), Convention against Funding Terrorism (CFT), and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes -- in the hope of reducing international pressure on Iran’s deteriorating economy.
Nevertheless, the bills have triggered a series of heated debates and disputes between Majles (parliament) and the Guardian Council (GC).
Based on the Islamic Republic Constitution, all bills and parliamentary motions passed in Majles (parliament) should be endorsed by the GC “to ensure the compatibility” of laws with “Islam and the Constitution”. If the GC demanded amendments in draft laws, parliament might obey or refer the disputed bills and motions to the EDC for arbitration. Then, the decision of EDC would be final.
Currently, the fate of the Palermo Bills is in the hands of EDC, which is supposed to issue a verdict for or against one of the two sides.
Nevertheless, Ali Motahari believes that the EDC has overstepped its authority by independently amending the Palermo bills.
The EDC's public relations office recently announced that the council had amended one of the disputed bills.
Ali Motahari immediately lambasted the announcement on his Instagram account, describing it as "not convincing, and an excuse even worse than the sin".
Tehran's MP who is notorious for not mincing his words, demanded, "In what capacity, and based on which Articles of the Constitution, the EDC has given itself the authority to amend the legislation?"
Article 112 of the Islamic Republic's Constitution, Motahari has argued, "explicitly stipulates that the role of the EDC is limited to arbitration between Majles and the Guardian Council."
Therefore, Motahari has gone further to say the EDC has no right to amend a governmental bill or parliamentary motion.
Referring to the chairman of the EDC, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, who is on leave of absence for medical treatment, Motahari said on his Instagram account, "Apparently, in the absence of their chairman, a number of the EDC members have grabbed the chance to dream about turning the council into a Senate."
However, the dream will never come true unless the country's constitution changed, he retorted.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has given Tehran until February to either endorse UNTOC or be added to its blacklist of countries refusing to cooperate in the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism. The International Monetary Fund is urging Tehran to endorse the bills.
Moreover, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also urged Tehran to endorse the bills, implicitly warning that, if not, it will meet more hurdles in its global banking transactions.
Iran and North Korea are the only countries on the FATF blacklist, but the Paris-based organization has suspended countermeasures against Tehran while it works on reforms.