He is also an Iraqi citizen and a former member of Islamic Dawa Party. Shahroudi's official English-language biographical information from the Iranian Assembly of Experts' website opens with his education received in Najaf, Iraq from Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, the Islamic Dawa Party Founder, and takes the view that al-Sadr was killed ;al-Sadr was executed without trial by Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 1980. Hashemi Shahroudi became the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which has caused objections to his serving as the Head of Iran's Judiciary from 1999 until 2009. He is currently a member of Iran's Guardian Council.
Upon accepting his position as the Head of Iran’s Judiciary, Shahroudi proclaimed: "I have inherited an utter ruin from the previous judiciary," referring to Mohammad Yazdi's 10 years in office. He appointed Saeed Mortazavi, a well known fundamentalist and controversial figure, prosecutor general of Iran. Later when Mortazavi led the judiciary against Khatami's reform movement, Shahroudi was prevented by regime hardliners from stopping Mortazavi's violent acts against dissidents or removing him from power. In July 2011 Shahroudi was appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to head an arbitration body to resolve an ongoing dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the parliament. He is favorite as one of the successors of Ali Khamenei as Supreme Leader of Iran.
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi was born in Karbala, Iraq to an Iranian family. His father, Ali Hosseini Shahroudi was scholar and teacher at the Najaf seminary and Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi completed elementary schooling at Najaf's Alaviye school before going to seminary. Ayatollah Khomeini and Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr were his teachers in Najaf. When he came to Iran after Iranian Revolution, he taught at Qom and Hassan Nasrallah, current Secretary General of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah, was one of his students.
In 1974, Ayatollah Shahroudi was imprisoned by the Ba'ath Party, due to political activities related to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq
After the 1979 revolution, Shahroudi moved to Iran. Ayatollah Shahroudi helped preserve the relation between Ayatollah Khomeini and Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, as well as relaying the messages of Marja in Najaf to Ayatollah Khomeini. He was elected as the member of guardian council in 1995. Then he was appointed the head of the Judiciary in 1991. In July 2011, Shahroudi was appointed by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to head an arbitration body to resolve an ongoing dispute between president Ahmadinejad and parliament. The five-member body Shahroudi heads is made up of "hard-liners known for their opposition to any reforms within the ruling system", according to the Associated Press news agency. The appointment was seen as a move to sideline or weaken former President Hashemi Rafsanjani who heads the Expediency Council, a body set up to arbitrate disputes within the ruling system in the Islamic Republic. Rafsanjani had alienated Khamenei and the Islamic establishment with "his tacit support" for opposition to the controversial June 2009 presidential elections results that re-elected president Ahmadinejad.
Shahroudi has denounced ISIL as a terrorist organization that commits the worst sins of killing people in the name of jihad even though ISIL’s killings are clear violations of Islam. Sharoudi has also denounced ISIL for wrecking the infrastructure of civilizations and countries, and for committing murder.
After Ayatollah Khamenei became leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Yazdi served as the president of the Supreme Court. He remained in the post for many years before being replaced by Ayatollah Shahroudi.
In 2001, the judiciary prosecuted several reformist members of parliament for speeches and activities they had carried out in their capacity as MPs. The Iranian constitution grants immunity to members of parliament during their tenure and the courts have no right to put MPs on trial for speeches given in parliament. The incident led to a major conflict between Iranian president Mohammad Khatami and Chief of Judiciary Hashemi Shahroudi. In a letter, Khatami protested the courts' prosecution of MPs, insisting the act contravened the political immunity which the Iranian Constitution has provided for the deputies. The notice prompted Hashemi Shahroudi to respond, calling Khatami's letter "a surprise." "Since judges, according to the Constitution and ordinary laws as well as the jurisprudential principles, are independent in their interpretation of the law and issuing verdicts, nobody -- not even the judiciary chief -- has the right to impose its interpretation of the law on judges," Shahroudi said in part of his letter to President Khatami. Shahroudi denounced reformist MPs, stating they weakened parliament by defending "westernized" journalists and other liberals.
The Decriminalization Bill (Persian: تعيين مجازاتهای جايگزين) refers to a legal bill submitted by the Iranian Judiciary to the parliament. It aims at substituting imprisonment and execution by educational workshops and social penalties. The bill is considered one of the most important legal bills prepared by the Iranian judiciary during Shahroudi's tenure.
According to the bill, for all minor crimes, whose punishment is less than six months of imprisonment, imprisonment will be substituted with social penalties. This category of crimes include crimes related to traffic, environmental, medical, family, cultural and hunting offenses. The bill also demands that criminals undergo an educational or skill training course convened by the judiciary system.
The bill also addresses the crimes conducted by minors in the three age categories 7-12, 12-15 and 15–18 years old. It is reminiscent to the Iranian criminal law of 1925. According to the bill, minors can no longer be executed. The bill is based on several years of continuous discussion with religious scholars at the seminaries.
According to the bill, the crimes conducted by children of 7–12 years old are not punishable. For the 12-15 and 15-18 age ranges, imprisonment is replaced by mandatory training and education programs. For the age category of 15-18, execution is applied for crimes like murders if and only if the judge is confident that the criminals are mentally developed as adults and the crime is intentional and premeditated. However, both teenagers and young adults (older than 18) with low mental development, cannot be sentenced to death.
In 2009, the bill was approved by the judiciary commission of the Iranian parliament. The bill will be ratified after the approval of the parliament and the guardian council.
Shahroudi is most notable in the West for instituting Iran's 2002 moratorium on stoning as a form of capital punishment. The penalty remains on the books however, leaving open the possibility that the moratorium could again be overturned as it was in 2006 and 2007.
In 2009, Shahroudi offered a bill to the Iranian parliament that targets the independence of Iran's Bar Association. According to this bill, lawyers will be watched by the Iranian ministry of Intelligence and their credentials depend on the approval of the intelligence service.
In 2009, Shahroudi issued an order to restrict people's access to Iranian Satellite TV Channels and to prosecute staff of Satellite TV Channels whose opinion is not in line with that of the Islamic Republic. People who support these channels and Internet users who do not act according to the line of the constitution can be punished with up to five years of imprisonment.
Shahroudi has received criticism from a number of Iranian scholars and lawyers. Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, a well-known Iranian scholar and expert on Islamic law, wrote a letter of criticism in August 2009.