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Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence

In the same days, attorneys who had never stopped struggling for their professional rights and were preparing to hold the election of the Bar Association’s Board of Directors saw new hope in light of the Law of Appointment. They appointed the Commission for supervision of the election with Ali Shahidzadeh as its Chairperson. The Commission published the notice of the 20th round of the election and attorneys were invited to participate in the election on October 9, 1991. The candidates began introducing their plans—and with different meetings and discussions everywhere the spirit of the election was in the air.

However, quite shockingly, some Members of Parliament, and in particular Ayatollah AbbasAli Ameed Zanjani[8], drafted and proposed a “Double-Urgent” bill[9]. Five days after the Law adopted by the Expediency Council and only one day before the Bar Association’s election, the Law of Correction of the Bar Associations (hereinafter “Law of Correction”) was adopted which stopped the election and a Commission was established to cleanse the attorneys. By virtue of article 1 of the Law of Correction: “[i]n order to correct the Bar Associations, the Commission of Rebuilding the Bar Associations, consisting of six attorneys and three judges by appointment of the Head of the Judiciary, shall be formed for a period of one year to implement this Law...”. Moreover, according to its article 5, the main function of the Commission was to expel the attorneys who according to the view of the members of the Commission had relationships with the Pahlavi Regime or were members of parties or groups declared illegal. Note 2 of article 5 also stipulated that “[u]ntil the period of this Law is finished, the Bar Association’s Board of Directors shall be stopped and will be held thereafter.”

Therefore, on the next day, the attorneys who went to the Bar Associations to participate in the election were informed about the stop order and the protest of the attorneys and the Bar Associations were frustrated. The outcome of the said Commissions was the revocation of licenses of 133 attorneys including some professors in law. So, attorneys were purged for a further time after the 1979 Revolution. Moreover, the first election after the Revolution was suspended again and ultimately resulted in attorneys being denied the right to elect their directors for 18 years.

In respect to the passage of the Law of Correction, some matters of note:

First, in a rare occasion, the Law was passed by both members of Parliament and the Guardian Council. In fact, because the Bill was Double-Urgent, the members of the Guardian Council attended the session of Parliament and after the Bill was passed by MPs the members of the Guardian Council approved it in the same session.

Second, contrary to article 1 of the Civil Code of Iran which requires the laws to be signed by the President and published in the Formal Gazette in order to come into force, the Law of Correction—pursuant to the provisions in its last article— came into force from the date the law was adopted. This expedited provision was on account of the shortage of time the providers of the Law of Correction experienced only one day before the election would be held.

Third, while the period of the implementation of the Law and forbidding the election was one year, and it was extended for an additional year, in practice it postponed the election until 1997.

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