The Special Court of the Clergy (Dādgāh-Ye Vizheh-Ye Ruhāniyat) and the Repression of Dissident Clergy in Iran

55 Pages Posted: 24 May 2010 Last revised: 14 Dec 2011

See all articles by Mirjam Künkler

Mirjam Künkler

Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study

Date Written: May 13, 2009


The paper focuses on the special court for the clergy (SCC) in Iran, its legal mandate, functions, performance and transformation over time. Set up in the early years of the 1979 revolution, the SCC was formally re-established in 1987 by decree of Ayatollah Khomeini, and endowed with an ordinance by Supreme Leader Khamenei in 1990. The official function of the SCC is to investigate criminal transgressions of the clergy, but the court has increasingly become an instrument for the suppression of dissident clerics.

The SCC functions under the direct jurisdiction of the Supreme Leader, and not, as all other courts, within the framework of the judiciary. Whereas the chief judges of other courts are appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, the chief judges and prosecutors of the SCC are directly appointed by the Supreme Leader. The budget of the SCC is approved not by the Majles (parliament), but by the Expediency Council.

As the SCC is not part of the official judiciary system, it runs its own security network. The Supreme Court, being part of the judiciary, has no jurisdiction to review cases of the SCC. All court proceedings are closed to the public and whatever other laws may apply to legal proceedings in the country, they do not apply to the SCC.

Keywords: Justice system Iran, legal system Iran, special court of clergy, dissident clergy, marja'iyyat

Suggested Citation

Künkler, Mirjam, The Special Court of the Clergy (Dādgāh-Ye Vizheh-Ye Ruhāniyat) and the Repression of Dissident Clergy in Iran (May 13, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Mirjam Künkler (Contact Author)

Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study ( email )

Korte Spinhuissteeg 3
Amsterdam, 1012 CG

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics