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Jakarta Post

Lawyers challenge MK reform legislation

The Jakarta Post
Jakarta   ●   Tue, October 22, 2013

A group of lawyers filed a request for a judicial review at the Constitutional Court (MK) on Monday challenging the regulation in lieu of law, known as a Perppu, issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to reform the graft-tainted court.

One of the lawyers, Habiburokhman, said that the Perppu was flawed because the prerequisite for its issuance was not met as there was no emergency requiring the regulation.

'€œThe Perppu is unconstitutional because there is no dire need to issue such a regulation,'€ he said.

He said the Constitutional Court was not the only government institution mired in corruption, as other state institutions '€” in both the executive and the legislature '€” were also plagued by graft.

The group claimed to have prepared expert witnesses, including former Constitutional Court justice Jimly Asshiddiqie and constitutional law professor Yusril Ihza Mahendra, to testify to the court. Both Jimly and Yusril said they had not been officially requested to testify by the petitioners but said they would likely accept such a request.

Yusril, also former law and human rights minister, slammed the President'€™s initiative, saying the Perppu had lost its urgency. '€œIssuing a Perppu almost three weeks after Akil'€™s [Mochtar, former court chief justice] arrest is too late. There is no longer a reason to issue it. Moreover, the court is now recovering,'€ he said. '€œDrafting a law on judicial monitoring would be more worthwhile.'€

Separately, when asked to comment on the issue, former Constitutional Court justice Mahfud MD said that if the pretext for the Perppu was the fact that '€œone justice has no moral integrity'€ then the President must issue more Perppus for other government institutions that were plagued by corruption.

'€œThe grounds for issuing a Perppu due to an emergency situation are not very solid, although I must raise my hat to its substance,'€ Mahfud said.

Mahfud questioned other articles in the Perppu, such as that requiring justices not to have been active in political parties for a minimum of seven years before their appointment. The stipulation, he said, would have serious consequences for two justices, Hamdan Zoelva and Patrialis Akbar, because they had only recently quit their position in their parties. '€œThe President must issue another Perppu to add a clause stating that current justices are deemed as already fulfilling all necessary requirements,'€ he said.

Patrialis and Hamdan are former members respectively of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Star Crescent Party (PBB).

Currently the House of Representatives is split on whether to support or reject the Perppu. The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party have voiced strong objections to the regulation, while the Democratic Party, and the National Mandate Party (PAN) have supported the President'€™s regulation.

Previously the President issued a Perppu which mandated the creation of a permanent ethics council tasked with supervising the court.

The President argued that the government needed to issue the Perppu to restore public trust in the court following the arrest of Akil on bribery charges.

In a speech he delivered only days after the case made national headlines, the President highlighted the need to oversee the court and protect it from political influence.

The regulation stipulates that the ethics council will be jointly formed by the Judicial Commission and the Constitutional Court.

Last week, Constitutional Court Deputy Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva told a press conference that despite the regulation, the court would press ahead with its own plan to set up an ethics council without the involvement of the Judicial Commission. (asw)