The Jakarta Post
In what could be seen as a fresh blow to the Constitutional Court (MK), the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) ruled on Monday to strip MK Justice Patrialis Akbar of his position within the court.
The PTUN ruled in favor of a group of legal activists who filed a suit to challenge the legality of Patrialis' appointment, by seeking to annul President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Presidential Decree on his appointment.
The lawsuit deemed Patrialis' surprise appointment by Yudhoyono illegal as it was conducted without a transparent and accountable selection process, which is mandatory according to the 2011 Constitutional Court Law.
The Constitution stipulates that the Constitutional Court ' formed in 2003 as part of the reform process following the fall of the authoritarian New Order regime in May 1998 ' must have nine justices and that the House of Representatives, the President and the Supreme Court are each entitled to appoint three justices to serve a five-year term.
But the 2011 Constitutional Court Law makes clear that the nomination of justice candidates should be conducted with transparency and participation by the public, so as to ensure an objective and accountable selection process.
Patrialis was inaugurated in mid August, replacing Achmad Sodiki, whose term had expired, after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono picked him.
Many suspected that Patrialis' appointment was politically motivated given that Patrialis is a member of the National Mandate Party (PAN), chaired by Hatta Rajasa, related by marriage to the President.
Patrialis was also known for his lackluster performance as law and human rights minister. During his tenure, the ministry was deemed an under-performing ministry. He was removed from Yudhoyono's Cabinet in 2011.
In Monday's ruling, the PTUN also annulled the re-appointment of Justice Maria Farida Indrati, which was also stipulated in Yudhoyono's presidential decree.
However, somewhat bizarrely the PTUN also annulled the dismissals of Maria and Achmad, which had also been stipulated in the decree, meaning that the two remain in their positions. Although the 2011 Constitutional Court Law stipulates the court requires nine justices, it also says the court can hear cases with only seven justices.
Erwin Natosmal of the Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR), one of the activists who filed the lawsuit, praised the PTUN's decision. 'I think the PTUN tried to provide a solution [by annulling Maria and Achmad's dismissals] since it would be problematic if they annulled two justices without an exit strategy, as the Constitutional Court would be, without doubt, paralyzed,' Erwin said on Monday.
Patrialis said he would file an appeal. 'As such a ruling will harm our nation and will stop the Constitutional Court from working, the only way is to appeal,' he said.
Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva, however, said the court would keep running despite the PTUN ruling.
'Since he will file an appeal, the ruling has yet to take effect. Tomorrow will be business as usual for us; both Patrialis and Maria will still hear cases,' he said.
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