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Power Relations and Judicial Corruption in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mehdi Khosravi

In order to understand the political structure and stability in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the nature of the Islamic judicial system in the country must be analysed. This book undertakes this responsibility and is the first comprehensive study of structurally deep-rooted corruption in the Islamic judiciary system. The findings of this research show that corruption in the judiciary is widespread in breadth and depth. This corruption has infiltrated every sector of the Islamic regime to the point where it impacts the day-to-day routine of the Iranian people.

Without a doubt, the influence of the Supreme Leader on the judiciary is the most prominent factor in the formation of judicial corruption and its epidemical spread to other parts of the government. This judicial corruption has calamitous consequences on Iranian society and has endangered society’s security. It has infringed on human rights, caused a dwindling economy, devalued the rule of law, and delayed social progress in the country.

This book will be of interest to students of legal studies, political science, Islamic studies, sociology, or religious studies. The book also provides precious insights for journalists, civil service employees, decision-makers, and all of those who are interested in discovering the reason for brutality in the Islamic judiciary. The book also provides useful information for the learned societies and research centres that are concentrated on Iranian studies, criminology, good governance, rule of law, and criminal justice systems.

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Chapter 3: The Complex Structure of the Iranian Judiciary

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3

The Complex Structure of the Iranian Judiciary

History of the Criminal Justice System in Iran

In this section, we will briefly examine the history of the judicial system of Iran. In order to understand corruption in the judiciary, it is necessary to know when and at what stage the system was formed.

Safavid Empire Era (1501–1736)

The concept of justice in Islam is not similar to modern liberal notions; it is more like Aristotle’s definition of justice (Enayat, 2013, p. 10). In Islam, the ulama are the guardians, transmitters, and interpreters of religious knowledge in Islam. The ulama regard themselves as “heirs of the prophets” (Fierro, 2010, p.679).

For many years, rulers invited ulama into their circles to enhance the ruler’s religious legitimacy (Fierro, 2010). The traditional interpretation of Islam gives the ruler absolute power; therefore, the ulama never see themselves needing to restrict the ruling power by creating any institute to reduce and then separate powers. The root for using shar’ia law (Islamic law) as a source in courts in Persia can be seen in the Safavid Empire era. Scholars have claimed that during the Safavid period, the government was obliged to establish order, implement Shari’a ←61 | 62→Law, and so in return the ulama would confirm the legitimacy of the government (Enayat, 2013).

The Qajar Dynasty (1789–1925)

In the Qajar era (the ruling dynasty of Iran from 1794 to...

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