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Jakarta Post

Wrong law number: First attempt to challenge KPK Law fails over petition error

  • Kharishar Kahfi
    Kharishar Kahfi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, November 28, 2019   /   04:14 pm
Wrong law number: First attempt to challenge KPK Law fails over petition error Nine justices of the Constitutional Court lead a hearing in the courtroom. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The Constitutional Court has refused to accept a judicial review petition on the recently revised Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law, citing errors in the first attempt to legally challenge the controversial law.

Constitutional Court Chief Justice Anwar Usman read the ruling on Thursday that the nine-panel bench could not continue the review as requested by the plaintiffs, because the latter had referred to an incorrect law instead of the 2019 KPK Law in the petition.

The plaintiffs are 18 university students represented by lawyer Zico Leonard. They submitted the petition on Sept. 18, only a day after the House of Representatives had passed the revised law in a plenary session.

Justice Enny Nurbaningsih said the plaintiffs had demanded that the court’s nine justices review Law No. 16/2019, which they had referred to as the second revision of the KPK Law.

“However, that was incorrect, because Law No. 16/2019 refers to the revision of the 1974 Marriage Law. The revised KPK Law is Law No. 19/2019,” Enny explained during a hearing on Thursday.

“Therefore, it was irrelevant for the bench to resume the review of the petition.”

After the hearing, lawyer Zico said the plaintiffs put the wrong law number because they needed to submit the petition before President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration enacted the revised bill into Law no. 19/2019.

“At the time we submitted our petition, we were aware the bill had yet to be enacted; therefore, we put the law number based on our prediction by looking at the previous enacted law,” he said.

Zico added they had predicted the law would have been enacted by the time the court asked the plaintiffs to revise their petition on the preliminary hearing of the case — which they expected to fall on Oct. 9 — which would allow them to put the number of the revised KPK Law into the petition. 

However, he claimed the court had moved the date of the petition’s preliminary hearing without clear reasons rather than taking the maximum 14 working days, as stipulated in the court’s regulation. This prevented them from putting the right number of the KPK Law into the petition.

The court held a preliminary hearing for the plaintiffs to read out their petition on Sept. 30 and asked them to revise their petition to be presented at the first hearing of the case that took place on Oct. 14. 

The law’s enactment took place on Oct. 17, 30 days after the House passed the bill.

“[We wanted to] submit the petition as soon as possible to hinder [the President] from establishing a supervisory council in December,” the lawyer said. 

The revised KPK Law requires a supervisory council to oversee the antigraft body’s operations, including giving approval for wiretapping, confiscation and search warrants, which many believe curtails the antigraft body’s authority in eradicating corruption. 

The plaintiffs had withdrawn their petition after the court set the date for the preliminary hearing. 

Zico said the plaintiffs would file a complaint to the court’s ethics council to identify the people responsible for moving the date of the preliminary hearing as well as to explain why the court decided to rule on the petition despite the plaintiff’s request to withdraw the petition.

The students’ petition is only one of several judicial review petitions lodged at the court to challenge the revised KPK Law. Apart from them, antigraft activists and current KPK leaders have filed separate petitions with the Constitutional Court.