Egypt's highest court has reiterated its decision to close the country's parliament - after MPs took part in a defiant session lasting just five minutes.
The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), which demanded the closure of parliament prior to Egypt's presidential elections last month, acted swiftly to overrule a decree by new premier Mohammed Mursi, ordering the restoration of the legislature.
In accordance with president Mursi's decree, MPs returned to Cairo on Tuesday morning, with armed guards outside the parliament building standing aside to grant them entry. However, after a brief address from speaker Saad el-Katatny, MPs voted to refer the dissolution of their chamber to Egypt's highest appeals court, before promptly adjourning.
In response, the SCC ruled that president Morsi had acted illegally in ordering the resumption of parliamentary proceedings, and insisted that the closure of parliament, which has hitherto been enforced by Egypt's military council, must be upheld.
Maher el-Beheiry, chief justice of the SCC, said simply: "The court ruled to halt the president's decision to recall the parliament."
The brief parliamentary session took place against a backdrop of protests on the streets of Cairo, in which pro-parliament protestors castigated the SCC for its links to Hosni Mubarak, who served as president of Egypt for 30 years before being ousted by Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood party last February.
One protestor told Al-Jazeera: "This decision is obviously politicised and confirms that the Supreme Court remains a tool of the former regime. All these judges were appointed by Mubarak."
Meanwhile, Reuters reported senior Brotherhood member Mahmoud Ghozlan as saying that the present dispute "is part of a power struggle between the military council and the president, who represents the people... in which the military council is using the law and the judiciary to impose its will."