Cairo, Jun 2 : In a major setback to Egypt's ruling Islamists, the country's apex court today struck down two laws as unconstitutional by which upper house of Parliament and the Constituent Assembly which drafted the first post-revolution Constitution were elected.
In its ruling, the Supreme Constitutional Court said the law governing the elections of the Islamist-dominated Shura Council was unconstitutional as well as the criteria set for the selection of the Constituent Assembly members.
Presiding Judge Maher al-Beheiry said the Council should remain in place until the election of a new parliament.
No date has been set yet for the new parliament polls.
Today's ruling came in response to several challenges filed by lawyers against the two laws, state-run MENA news agency reported.
President Mohammed Mursi had set up the 100-member Constituent Assembly to draw up the new document. The constitution was adopted by a nationwide vote in December.
Opposition parties have been accusing Mursi of useing the council to rush through an Islamist agenda and laws that have too many loopholes.
The ruling could also heighten tension between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the judiciary over reforms of the country's legal system. The Islamists are keen to remove Hosni Mubarak-era judges while judiciary sees it as an attempt to influence their ranks.
As a result of the ruling, the Shura Council will be dissolved after a new House of Representatives or the lower house of parliament is elected.
Both the upper and lower houses were elected under the same electoral law, prompting the dissolution of parliament.
The Shura Council has assumed full legislative powers until the election of a new House of Representatives according to the new constitution.
The same court had ruled unconstitutional in June some articles of the electoral law regulating last year's elections for the House of Representatives, as partisan candidates were allowed to run against independents for individual seats. The House of Representatives was consequently dissolved.
The new constitution approved in December stated in article 231 that: The first legislative elections following the adoption of this Constitution shall be held in the following manner: Two-thirds of the seats are to be won by a list-based electoral system and one-third by individual candidacy, with parties and independent candidates allowed to run in each.
The court also ruled that the emergency law, that gives many powers to Mursi, is not constitutional as well.