Despite its weak authority, the Judicial Commission ( KY ), which is tasked with monitoring judges and justices, is reportedly experiencing a rift between commissioners who are fighting for control over the institution.
The spat was reportedly over the chairmanship of Suparman Marzuki, the Judicial Commission's monitoring commissioner, who was officially inaugurated on Monday as new chairman of the commission.
Suparman was expected to serve only as deputy chairman, but he secured the most votes cast by fellow commissioners last month, negating a deal that was struck earlier.
Suparman won four of the seven votes to replace Eman Suparman, whose tenure has ended and who now is serving as one of the commissioners until 2015, while Abbas Said was elected as Suparman's deputy, replacing Imam Anshori Saleh.
Commissioner Taufiqurrohman Syahuri revealed the backroom deal in an email recently.
In the email, Taufiqurrohman revealed that he, Suparman, Eman and Imam had met at a hotel just before the first leadership selection in December 2010, and had agreed to take turns in the two-round leadership.
They agreed on Eman being the chairman with Iman as his deputy for the first tenure, and Taufiqurrohman and Suparman as chairman and deputy, consecutively, for the 2013-2015 period.
However, Taufiqurrohman added, during the selection for the second tenure last month, Suparman violated the deal and got an extra vote. Imam voted for himself.
According to Taufiqurrohman, the deal was made merely 'to maintain the independence of the commission' and 'to accommodate the voices of activists'.
During the selection process, activists raised concerns over the candidacy of Abbas, who as a justice was considered to have a dubious record.
Abbas, along with 30 other Supreme Court justices, in 2006 filed a judicial review against the commission's authority to monitor justices at the Constitutional Court.
Taufiqurrohman said in the email that the agreement could be canceled only through a fair discussion and not by violating what he deemed to be a moral commitment.
Taufiqurrohman failed to attend the swearing-in ceremony for Suparman on Monday morning, claiming he was undergoing a medical checkup in preparation for his minor haj pilgrimage. But he turned up on Monday afternoon when commissioners held a meeting to decide on the division of authority within the agency.
When asked to comment on the alleged rift, Suparman issued a denial.
'Differences and arguments are normal; they happen everywhere. What's important is that we aim for the future from now on,' Suparman told reporters after the ceremony.
Suparman also denied that the commission had been compromised by politics ahead of the 2014 election, saying that the commission 'was not a political institution'.
'The leadership is collective and collegial; there is nothing to be worried about,' he added.
Jamil Mubarok of the Indonesia Transparency Society ( MTI ) slammed the commissioners for putting the independence of the commission at risk by focusing on their own personal interests.
'They must be able to prioritize their roles and duties of the institution above their personal egos,' Jamil said. 'Don't spend too much time on matters that will stunt the growth of the institution and hamper public interests.'