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Profiles of new Constitutional Court justices

  • Prodita Sabarini and Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

| Fri, May 3, 2013 | 02:11 pm
Profiles of new Constitutional Court justices (JP/P.J. Leo)" border="0" height="156" width="150">(JP/P.J. Leo)Following the selection of the new Constitutional Court justices by legislators earlier this month, the nine justices voted among themselves to select from their number the court’s new chief justice. Akil Mochtar, a serving justice since 2008, won seven out of the nine votes.

Akil, who began his career as a lawyer, is a former politician with the Golkar Party. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1999 and retained his seat at the 2004 election. Akil attempted to run for West Kalimantan governor in 2007, but lost the election. He joined Golkar in 1998 and resigned from the party when he applied for the justice position.

Dissenting Opinions:
Akil gave a dissenting opinion on the 2004 Fiscal Balance Law. In 2011, a group called
the Unified East Kalimantan Society filed a judicial review of the law, demanding a larger share of revenue from natural resources, given that the law states that Jakarta receives 84.5 percent of net revenue from mineral resources and 69.5 percent from natural gas.

The Court ruled in 2012 that the percentage as stipulated in the law ensured protection for the entire nation. Akil, however, said that profit sharing between central and regional governments from natural resources did not follow the principle of fairness and, therefore, violated the Constitution.

Justice Harjono, 65

(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)Harjono was part of the committee that amended the 1945 Constitution, which led to the establishment of the Constitutional Court. He was a member of ad hoc committees at the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) for constitutional amendments between 1999 and 2002 with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction.

He was appointed a justice by then president Megawati Soekarnoputri, the party’s chairwoman, to serve between 2003 and 2008. In 2009, he was reappointed as a justice by Commission III overseeing legal affairs and laws at the legislature. He replaced then chief justice Jimly Asshidiqqie and, in 2013, nominated himself for chief justice, receiving two out of the nine votes.

Dissenting Opinions:
Harjono was the only justice to dissent a 2012 Constitutional Court ruling that disbanded the oil and gas regulator, BP Migas. The Court ruled that the energy sector regulator was unconstitutional as it deprived the state of its power to control natural resources.

In his opposing statement, Harjono said that the plaintiff, a coalition of 42 organizations including Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, did not have legal standing. He also said that BP Migas was constitutional as it was established through law.

Harjono was also one of four judges who dissented on the case of the government’s legality in purchasing Newmont’s divestment shares, saying the government had the authority to purchase shares without permission from the House of Representatives.

The Court annulled the government purchase of a 7 percent share in PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara, executed in May 2011, saying that the State Investment Agency, which oversaw the purchase, was part of the Finance Ministry; thus, its investment plans should be detailed in the state budget and approved by the legislature.

Justice Arief Hidayat, 57

(Antara)(Antara)Arief Hidayat, the newest of the nine Constitutional Court justices, was previously a professor of law at Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java. He replaces former chief justice Mahfud MD.

In his “fit and proper” test at the House, Arief rejected the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage in Indonesia, saying that it violated constitutional principles. He also said that atheism was not allowed in Indonesia.

 



Justice Maria Farida Indrati, 64

(JP/Nurhayati)(JP/Nurhayati)Maria Farida Indrati is the only woman on the court’s panel of judges. Her dissenting opinions on the court rulings that upheld the Pornography Law and the Blasphemy Law led to her being viewed a pluralist. Maria was appointed a justice by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2008. She was a lecturer in law at the University of Indonesia .

In 2004, Maria was an expert witness in the case of the 1984 Tanjung Priok shootings in North Jakarta. Koran Tempo reported that her testimony favored the government with her comments that the violence was in line with “the morals and ethics of those times, and cannot be judged today”.

Witnesses claimed hundreds were killed after soldiers fired into crowds of protesters, while the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) verified 24 deaths.

Dissenting Opinions:
Maria Farida was the only justice to dissent against the court’s rulings on the 2008 Pornography Law and the 1965 Blasphemy Law. She stated that the Pornography Law was open to too many interpretations, that it was divisive and would be difficult to implement.

On the Blasphemy Law, she said the state should not intervene in interpretations of religious teachings.

Maria was also among the four judges that provided dissenting opinions on the court’s annulment of the government’s purchase of Newmont’s shares.

Justice Achmad Sodiki, 68

(JP/P.J. Leo)(JP/P.J. Leo)A professor of law at Brawijaya University, Achmad Sodiki is an expert in agrarian law and is the court’s deputy chief justice. In 2004, Sodiki was a member of the Constitution Commission study group and also chaired the Agrarian Studies Center. He was appointed a justice in 2008 by President Yudhoyono.

Dissenting Opinions:
Sodiki was the only justice to give a dissenting opinion against the court’s annulment of the article on international schools’ standard classrooms in the 2003 National Education Law. The court had upheld a judicial review of the article, saying it was discriminatory and led to the commercialization of such classes.

Sodiki said, however, that the end of international-standard classes in local schools would cause students to seek educational opportunities abroad as long as improving educational quality at home was not supported.

He was also among the four justices that provided dissenting opinions on the court’s annulment of the government’s purchase of Newmont’s shares.

Justice Hamdan Zoelva, 47

(Antara)(Antara)Hamdan Zoelfa is the youngest-ever serving justice. He entered the Constitutional Court in 2010. The son of the head of an Islamic boarding school in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara NTB), he was active in the Association of Islamic Students (HMI).

He cofounded the Crescent Star Party (PBB) at the start of the reform era and was elected into the House of Representatives with the PBB in 1999. During his term, he was involved in constitutional amendments between 1999 and 2002.

Dissenting Opinion:
Hamdan dissented over the court’s refusal to review an article in the 2006 Witness Protection Law. Former National Police detectives chief Com. Gen. Susno Duadji had asked for a review of an article that stated that witnesses to crimes who had been declared suspects could not have their sentences revoked if proven guilty. In rejecting Susno’s request, the court argued that the law stipulated that a witness’ testimony may reduce their sentence.

Susno, who has since been convicted of graft but has not yet been incarcerated due to a vague legal ruling by the Supreme Court, recently joined Hamdan’s party, the PBB.

Justice Ahmad Fadlil Sumadi, 60

(Antara)(Antara)The Supreme Court appointed Ahmad Fadlil Sumadi to the Constitutional Court in 2010. During his first term between 2003 and 2008, Fadlil was appointed the court’s registrar. He subsequently returned to the Supreme Court and served as deputy chief justice at the Yogyakarta High Court.

Dissenting Opinion:
Ahmad F. Sumadi was among the four judges who provided dissenting opinions on the Constitutional Court’s ruling concerning the divestment of Newmont shares. He opined that the government’s purchase of a 7 percent share in the company was constitutional.



Justice Muhammad Alim, 68

(JP/P.J. Leo)(JP/P.J. Leo)Muhammad Alim entered the Constitutional Court in 2008, replacing Soedarsono when he retired. He was appointed by Supreme Court Justice Bagir Manan. Muhammad Alim has been a career judge since serving at the Sinjai District Court, Southeast Sulawesi, in 1980. Since then, he has served as a judge at the district courts of Poso in Central Sulawesi, Serui and Wamena in Papua, and the Surabaya District Court in East Java. Prior to being a Constitutional Court justice, he headed the Southeast Sulawesi High Court.

Dissenting Opinion:
Muhammad Alim, along with three other justices, gave a dissenting opinion on a ruling on the 2002 Broadcasting Law. The National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) had requested the Court to review the law, which allows cigarette advertisements on television and billboards, saying it violated children’s rights. The court ruled that, as a legal product, tobacco commercials could not be banned. Alim dissented, however, saying the ads only benefited cigarette manufacturers and the advertising industry while harming millions of Indonesian children.


Justice Anwar Usman, 56

(JP/ R. Berto Wedhatama)

Justice Akil Mochtar, 52

(JP/P.J. Leo)Following the selection of the new Constitutional Court justices by legislators earlier this month, the nine justices voted among themselves to select from their number the court'€™s new chief justice. Akil Mochtar, a serving justice since 2008, won seven out of the nine votes.

Akil, who began his career as a lawyer, is a former politician with the Golkar Party. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1999 and retained his seat at the 2004 election. Akil attempted to run for West Kalimantan governor in 2007, but lost the election. He joined Golkar in 1998 and resigned from the party when he applied for the justice position.

Dissenting Opinions:
Akil gave a dissenting opinion on the 2004 Fiscal Balance Law. In 2011, a group called
the Unified East Kalimantan Society filed a judicial review of the law, demanding a larger share of revenue from natural resources, given that the law states that Jakarta receives 84.5 percent of net revenue from mineral resources and 69.5 percent from natural gas.

The Court ruled in 2012 that the percentage as stipulated in the law ensured protection for the entire nation. Akil, however, said that profit sharing between central and regional governments from natural resources did not follow the principle of fairness and, therefore, violated the Constitution.

Justice Harjono, 65

(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)(JP/Ricky Yudhistira)Harjono was part of the committee that amended the 1945 Constitution, which led to the establishment of the Constitutional Court. He was a member of ad hoc committees at the People'€™s Consultative Assembly (MPR) for constitutional amendments between 1999 and 2002 with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction.

He was appointed a justice by then president Megawati Soekarnoputri, the party'€™s chairwoman, to serve between 2003 and 2008. In 2009, he was reappointed as a justice by Commission III overseeing legal affairs and laws at the legislature. He replaced then chief justice Jimly Asshidiqqie and, in 2013, nominated himself for chief justice, receiving two out of the nine votes.

Dissenting Opinions:
Harjono was the only justice to dissent a 2012 Constitutional Court ruling that disbanded the oil and gas regulator, BP Migas. The Court ruled that the energy sector regulator was unconstitutional as it deprived the state of its power to control natural resources.

In his opposing statement, Harjono said that the plaintiff, a coalition of 42 organizations including Indonesia'€™s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, did not have legal standing. He also said that BP Migas was constitutional as it was established through law.

Harjono was also one of four judges who dissented on the case of the government'€™s legality in purchasing Newmont'€™s divestment shares, saying the government had the authority to purchase shares without permission from the House of Representatives.

The Court annulled the government purchase of a 7 percent share in PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara, executed in May 2011, saying that the State Investment Agency, which oversaw the purchase, was part of the Finance Ministry; thus, its investment plans should be detailed in the state budget and approved by the legislature.

Justice Arief Hidayat, 57

(Antara)(Antara)Arief Hidayat, the newest of the nine Constitutional Court justices, was previously a professor of law at Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java. He replaces former chief justice Mahfud MD.

In his '€œfit and proper'€ test at the House, Arief rejected the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage in Indonesia, saying that it violated constitutional principles. He also said that atheism was not allowed in Indonesia.

 



Justice Maria Farida Indrati, 64

(JP/Nurhayati)(JP/Nurhayati)Maria Farida Indrati is the only woman on the court'€™s panel of judges. Her dissenting opinions on the court rulings that upheld the Pornography Law and the Blasphemy Law led to her being viewed a pluralist. Maria was appointed a justice by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2008. She was a lecturer in law at the University of Indonesia .

In 2004, Maria was an expert witness in the case of the 1984 Tanjung Priok shootings in North Jakarta. Koran Tempo reported that her testimony favored the government with her comments that the violence was in line with '€œthe morals and ethics of those times, and cannot be judged today'€.

Witnesses claimed hundreds were killed after soldiers fired into crowds of protesters, while the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) verified 24 deaths.

Dissenting Opinions:
Maria Farida was the only justice to dissent against the court'€™s rulings on the 2008 Pornography Law and the 1965 Blasphemy Law. She stated that the Pornography Law was open to too many interpretations, that it was divisive and would be difficult to implement.

On the Blasphemy Law, she said the state should not intervene in interpretations of religious teachings.

Maria was also among the four judges that provided dissenting opinions on the court'€™s annulment of the government'€™s purchase of Newmont'€™s shares.

Justice Achmad Sodiki, 68

(JP/P.J. Leo)(JP/P.J. Leo)A professor of law at Brawijaya University, Achmad Sodiki is an expert in agrarian law and is the court'€™s deputy chief justice. In 2004, Sodiki was a member of the Constitution Commission study group and also chaired the Agrarian Studies Center. He was appointed a justice in 2008 by President Yudhoyono.

Dissenting Opinions:
Sodiki was the only justice to give a dissenting opinion against the court'€™s annulment of the article on international schools'€™ standard classrooms in the 2003 National Education Law. The court had upheld a judicial review of the article, saying it was discriminatory and led to the commercialization of such classes.

Sodiki said, however, that the end of international-standard classes in local schools would cause students to seek educational opportunities abroad as long as improving educational quality at home was not supported.

He was also among the four justices that provided dissenting opinions on the court'€™s annulment of the government'€™s purchase of Newmont'€™s shares.

Justice Hamdan Zoelva, 47

(Antara)(Antara)Hamdan Zoelfa is the youngest-ever serving justice. He entered the Constitutional Court in 2010. The son of the head of an Islamic boarding school in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara NTB), he was active in the Association of Islamic Students (HMI).

He cofounded the Crescent Star Party (PBB) at the start of the reform era and was elected into the House of Representatives with the PBB in 1999. During his term, he was involved in constitutional amendments between 1999 and 2002.

Dissenting Opinion:
Hamdan dissented over the court'€™s refusal to review an article in the 2006 Witness Protection Law. Former National Police detectives chief Com. Gen. Susno Duadji had asked for a review of an article that stated that witnesses to crimes who had been declared suspects could not have their sentences revoked if proven guilty. In rejecting Susno'€™s request, the court argued that the law stipulated that a witness'€™ testimony may reduce their sentence.

Susno, who has since been convicted of graft but has not yet been incarcerated due to a vague legal ruling by the Supreme Court, recently joined Hamdan'€™s party, the PBB.

Justice Ahmad Fadlil Sumadi, 60

(Antara)(Antara)The Supreme Court appointed Ahmad Fadlil Sumadi to the Constitutional Court in 2010. During his first term between 2003 and 2008, Fadlil was appointed the court'€™s registrar. He subsequently returned to the Supreme Court and served as deputy chief justice at the Yogyakarta High Court.

Dissenting Opinion:
Ahmad F. Sumadi was among the four judges who provided dissenting opinions on the Constitutional Court'€™s ruling concerning the divestment of Newmont shares. He opined that the government'€™s purchase of a 7 percent share in the company was constitutional.



Justice Muhammad Alim, 68

(JP/P.J. Leo)(JP/P.J. Leo)Muhammad Alim entered the Constitutional Court in 2008, replacing Soedarsono when he retired. He was appointed by Supreme Court Justice Bagir Manan. Muhammad Alim has been a career judge since serving at the Sinjai District Court, Southeast Sulawesi, in 1980. Since then, he has served as a judge at the district courts of Poso in Central Sulawesi, Serui and Wamena in Papua, and the Surabaya District Court in East Java. Prior to being a Constitutional Court justice, he headed the Southeast Sulawesi High Court.

Dissenting Opinion:
Muhammad Alim, along with three other justices, gave a dissenting opinion on a ruling on the 2002 Broadcasting Law. The National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) had requested the Court to review the law, which allows cigarette advertisements on television and billboards, saying it violated children'€™s rights. The court ruled that, as a legal product, tobacco commercials could not be banned. Alim dissented, however, saying the ads only benefited cigarette manufacturers and the advertising industry while harming millions of Indonesian children.


Justice Anwar Usman, 56

(JP/ R. Berto Wedhatama)(JP/ R. Berto Wedhatama)Anwar was sworn in as a Constitutional Court justice in April 2011, replacing Arsyad Sanusi, who resigned. Previously, Anwar was a Jakarta High Court judge and headed the human resources division at the Supreme Court.

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