CAIRO - Egypt's top court postponed on Tuesday a ruling on a case that challenged the legitimacy of the upper house of parliament and threatened further political uncertainty for the nation and its troubled transition to democracy.
The decision means the upper house, which has lawmaking power in the absence of a lower house, can continue working for now and could ensure its stays in place until a new lower house is elected in an election expected to start in April.
It also lifts the immediate pressure from President Mohamed Morsi, who would have had to take back legislative powers had the upper house been declared invalid, opening him up to the possibility of renewed criticism that he is monopolizing power.
Egypt's transition to democracy since the fall of Hosni Mubarak two years ago has been plagued by street violence and a slew of complex legal wrangles - frustrating ordinary Egyptians and unnerving investors, taking a heavy toll on the economy.
The head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Maher el-Beheiry, told reporters that the case would be referred back to an advisory legal panel to review. He did not say when that panel would issue a recommendation or when the court would rule.
The case was raised by independent lawyers opposed to Morsi and his fellow Islamists who dominated both houses. The court's declaration last year that the lower house was void led to that assembly being dissolved.