The meeting's cancellation highlights the difficulties faced by the Egyptian judges in a year likely to prove crucial for the future of the judiciary. Parliament is expected this year to vote upon a new law on the judiciary drafted by the government and so far kept under wraps.Still no signs from Baheyya, though.
At stake is the independence of the only important Egyptian institution still able to resist government pressure. In a country where political parties are very weak, the Judges Club emerged last year as the leading force calling for honest elections.
Legal experts say the new law will almost certainly fail to deliver the guarantees which the judges are seeking.
"That no one has yet seen the draft law is in itself a scandal," said Ahmed Mekki, a senior judge who has been at the forefront of the judges' movement. "We expect the law to be against the election of members of the Higher Council of the Judiciary [the formal body which handles relations between the judiciary and the state] and we believe it will curtail the club's freedom of expression."
Judges fear the club will be brought under the control of the council which, many judges charge, functions as a conduit for government influence over the judiciary.
The club has been pressing the government to adopt alternative legislation that would place the careers and pay of judges in the hands of an elected council.