The Jakarta Post
The Supreme Court has accepted a judicial review filed by hard-line group the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), abolishing a presidential decree that prevented local administrations from prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages.
With the abolition of the 1997 decree on the control of alcoholic drinks, local administrations are now free to ban the sale and distribution of alcohol in their areas.
More than 22 regencies and municipalities, including Tangerang in Banten, and Depok and Indramayu in West Java, have issued bylaws prohibiting the sale of alcohol.
However, the bylaws have not been implemented as the Home Ministry annulled them because they were in contravention of the presidential decree.
'With the Supreme Court ruling, there is no other legal reason to annul any bylaws prohibiting the circulation and consumption of alcoholic beverages,' said FPI spokesman Munarman on Thursday.
The FPI, notorious for its violent raids on nightclubs and bars in protest against practices that it deems 'sinful', filed the judicial review in 2012 after the ministry annulled all bylaws limiting or banning the sale of alcoholic drinks.
Members of the FPI and Islamic People's Forum (FUI) rioted last year in front of the Home Ministry after it issued a regulation forcing regional administrations to annul the bylaws.
Last year, the FPI raided minimarkets that sold alcoholic beverages in Tangerang.
Head of the Tangerang FPI Habib, Muhammad bin Toha Assegaff, claimed that the open sale of alcohol had contributed to recent rapes in Greater Jakarta.
'Alcoholic beverages are closely related to adultery,' he said.
Under the presidential decree, the distribution and sale of drinks that contain more than 5 percent alcohol are legally allowed and protected if they are sold in hotels, bars, clubs and certain areas designated by the central government.
The abolition of the law means hotels, bars and clubs will no longer have automatic legal protection to freely sell alcoholic drinks.
Local administrations across the country have enacted a host of bylaws since they received legislative authority following the introduction of regional autonomy in 2002.
Supreme Court judges Supandi, Hary Djatmiko and Yulius, who accepted the review, argued that the presidential decree had violated the autonomy law as councilors, as regional representatives, had been prevented from implementing the bylaws as demanded by their constituents.
The judges also argued that the decree was to some extent against the spirit of Pancasila ' the
nation's five-point philosophical basis ' and the 1945 Constitution.
Moreover, according to the judges, the decree was also contrary to Law No 36/2009 on health and Law No 8/1999 on consumer protection.
Sales of alcoholic beverages in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, have soared by more than 20 percent annually over the past three years as the economy has grown at an average of 6 percent.
PT Multi Bintang Indonesia, the producer of Bintang and Heineken beers, recorded a 30 percent jump in revenue to Rp 2.41 trillion (US$245 million) last year from Rp 1.85 trillion in 2011.
The company has said that the robust economy will see the alcoholic beverage industry enjoy a further boost this year.