The Rigors of Re-Selection

The Judicial Commission has drafted regulations to replace the laws governing the appointment of Supreme Court justices in an attempt to have the judiciary reshuffled.
JUDICIAL Commission member Irawady Joenoes has been putting in long hours at the office over the past two weeks. Joined by other colleagues from the Judicial Commission, Joenoes has been pushing to complete the draft government regulations to replace the laws governing the selection of Supreme Court justices. “We hope to publicize the draft regulations this February,” Joenoes told Tempo, last Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Joenoes received a visit from a prominent former Supreme Court justice, now in his 70’s. The retired judge expressed disappointment about the moral conduct of certain Supreme Court justices, giving examples of their wrongful behavior. “We are even receiving complaints from within the Supreme Court itself,” Joenoes told Tempo.

Complaints about the increasing corruption of the judiciary has pushed the Judicial Commission to call for a re-selection of justices. Last month, Judicial Commission Chairman Busyro Muqoddas met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss the possibility of drafting government regulations to replace the laws governing the selection of justices. According to Muqoddas, the president supported the Judicial Commission’s plan. “The judiciary has become increasingly degenerate and the worst damage is at the Supreme Court,” said Mudoddas. “It is for this reason that the cleansing process must begin with the head–the Supreme Court,” he explained.

In formulating the draft regulations, the Judicial Commission sought input from prominent legal practitioners and legal academics. Together with these legal experts, commission members have spent weeks formulating the draft regulations. “The provisions in this regulation will alter aspects of the existing laws, both directly and indirectly,” said Judicial Commission regulation formulating team chief, Chatamarrasjid.

The primary purpose of the regulations relates to the re-selection of Supreme Court justices. The regulations call for the establishment of a special selection team. Totaling 15-20 members, this team will include seven Judicial Commission members. The remaining members will be made up of “outsiders”. The Judicial Commission has already targeted certain “outsiders” for the team, such as former Supreme Court justices Bismar Siregar and Adi Andoyo and Indonesian law expert from the University of Washington, Daniel S. Lev.

When Tempo contacted Siregar and Lev, both expressed support for the Judicial Commission’s efforts to clean up the Supreme Court. However, they also said that they were not interested in becoming members of the judicial selection team. “I hope they don’t contact me,” said Siregar. Adi Andoyo was more open to the idea of becoming a judicial selection member. “I am extremely annoyed that so many Supreme Court justices have become so unprofessional in their conduct,” said the former Supreme Court justice in charge of general crimes.

The actual selection process involves several stages. The first stage involves publishing the names of the 49 justices currently serving at the Supreme Court. This stage is aimed at attracting input from the public, towards mapping the track record and moral conduct of current justices. “In addition to publishing the names of the justices, we plan to summon those people who have lodged complaints against any of them,” explained Joenoes.

The second stage involves summoning the justices for an interview. In this stage, the Judicial Commission will interview and check all public input regarding the moral and professional conduct of the justices. From here, the commission will categorize the justices into two groups–those whom they deem deserving to remain Supreme Court justices, and those whom they believe should be dismissed.

In addition to re-shuffling the judiciary, the commission also plans to compile a list of prospective candidate justices. These candidates will fill the 11 empty seats at the Supreme Court and replace any justices dismissed during the re-selection process. Once the selection process is completed, the names of the justices whom the commission believes should be dismissed will be submitted to the House of Representatives, together with the names of prospective candidate justices.

Judicial Commission head Busyro Muqoddas expressed optimism about the plan, predicting that there will be no major obstructions to enacting the replacement government regulations. In fact, Muqoddas met with key DPR leaders last week to discuss the regulations. DPR Speaker Agung Laksono expressed support for the Judicial Commission’s efforts to clean up the judiciary. “We support the commission’s efforts in attempting to bring about a clean judiciary. But, they have to act in accordance within the existing legal framework,” said Laksono.

The nature of this “legal framework” has become the focus of Supreme Court judges and DPR members. And voices of opposition have begun to surface against the replacement regulations from within both the Supreme Court and the DPR.

DPR Law Commission Chairman representing the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle at the DPR, Trimedya Panjaitan, condemned Busyro Muqoddas for meeting with key DPR members to gain political support for the regulations. “He should have approached the Law Commission to gain political support for the idea,” said Panjaitan.

Panjaitan also denounced the Judicial Commission’s plans to enact replacement regulations, claiming that such drastic measures should only be resorted to in emergency situations. “We are not currently facing an emergency situation,” he declared. Panjaitan also expressed concern that the regulations would spark conflict between the Judicial Commission and the Supreme Court. According to Panjaitan, the re-selection process could bring about major resistance and resentment among Supreme Court justices. “And what will happen to the law, if they decide to go on strike?” he questioned.

Separately, former Justice Minister and current National Defense Board Governor, Muladi, also denounced the Judicial Commission’s attempts to pass replacement regulations towards cleaning up the judiciary. “Such government regulations should only be enacted under emergency conditions, and the president should not interfere in matters involving the judiciary,” said Muladi. Muladi suggested that a more effective measure would be to revise the Laws on Judicial Powers.

Supreme Court justices themselves are divided in their response to the Judicial Commission’s plans. “If there is a presidential mandate, I do not object to undergoing the re-selection process,” said Supreme Court justice and Junior Chairman of the Religious Court, Andi Syamsu Alam.

Expressing strong opposition to the plan, Justice German Hoediarto said that he would immediately resign from his post if asked to undergo another re-selection process. “That is my principle,” said the Junior Chairman of the Military Court.

Hoediarto claims that the re-selection process is insulting to judges, especially those who have served long-term at the Supreme Court. “This treatment is insulting. There are other ways to dismiss rogue judges, for example by waiting for them to retire,” said Hoediarto, who sat on the judicial panel which convicted Tommy Suharto of the murder of Supreme Court Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita.

Separately, Deputy Chairman of the Indonesian Judges Association (Ikahi), Justice Imran Anwari, also condemned the commission’s judicial re-selection plans. “The Judicial Commission is out of line. There is no legal basis for this idea,” said Anwari, adding that almost all of the justices serving at the Supreme Court have already undergone a fit-and-proper test. “Any judges found to be involved in a judicial mafia should be dealt with. But, we can’t just burn down the whole house to catch a small mouse,” warned Anwari.

Nevertheless, Irawady Joenoes has rejected such objections from Supreme Court justices, maintaining that they have no authority to interfere in the Judicial Commission’s exercise of its duties. “If they are not guilty, they should have no fear of the re-selection process,” Joenoes concluded.

L.R. Baskoro, Maria Ulfah, Abdul Manan, Agriceli

TEMPO, JANUARY 30, 2006-021/P. 36 Heading Law

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