|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Supreme Court of Afghanistan or Stera Mahkama (Pashto: ستره محكمه) is the court of last resort in Afghanistan. It was created by the Constitution of Afghanistan, which was approved on January 4, 2004. Its creation was called for by the Bonn Agreement, which read in part:
Currently, the nine-member court is made up of the following justices:
The nine justices on the tribunal are appointed for 10-year terms by the President of Afghanistan, 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. The 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, in particular was described as "ultra conservative." Several of its rulings disappointed reform-minded Afghans and people in the Western world. For instance:
In 2006, President Hamid Karzai appointed several new, more moderate members to the court. However, he also chose to renominate Faisal Ahmad Shinwari 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 the National Assembly. Karzai then chose his legal counsel, Abdul Salam Azimi, to succeed Shinwari. Azimi's nomination passed, and the new court was sworn in on August 5, 2006.