Thu, 17 Jul 2003

All legislation to be subject to review

Kurniawan Hari, M. Taufiqqurahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives special committee currently deliberating a bill on the Constitutional Court agreed to give full authority to the planned court to review all legislation, regardless of when it had been enacted.

The committee made the agreement after scrapping contentious Article 56 in the bill, which stipulated that a request to review legislation should be submitted no later than 90 days after the law concerned had been enacted.

Deputy chairman of the special committee Zainal Arifin said that with the deletion of the controversial articles, any legislation considered to be controversial or out-of-date would be subject to review by the Constitutional Court.

According to the bill scheduled to be endorsed before Aug. 17, besides reviewing legislation, the planned Constitutional Court had the authority to try disputes between state institutions, electoral violations or crimes and misdemeanors committed by the president.

The bill does not elaborate on what kind of misconduct could be brought before the Constitutional Court.

The unclear definition of misconduct prompted legislator Tjetje Hidayat Padmadinata of the Indonesian Nationhood Unity (KKI) faction to question whether the action of Taufik Kiemas, husband of President Megawati Soekarnoputri, in hugging dangdut singer Inul Daratista, could be considered as misconduct.

"To me, Inul's gyrations are just healthy physical exercise," Tjetje said, referring to the dangdut singer's well-known performance.

Meanwhile, the House committee is still divided over basic requirements for Constitutional Court judges.

Some members insisted that the judges had to hold a law degree from a renowned university while others felt that they should be law college graduates. what's the difference?

Lawyer-turned-legislator Trimedya Panjaitan predicted that there would be a debate on the educational requirement, linked to the ambition of some legislators to promote associates to seats in the Constitutional Court.

Legal activist Luhut Pangaribuan said that judges for the Constitutional Court had to have a law degree because such an educational background would equip them with the basic skills for doing their job.

"What I see, looking at justices in the Supreme Court, is that those with no legal background face difficulty in performing their main tasks," he said.

University of Indonesia legal expert Harun Alrasyid said that a law degree was a basic requirement.

He said, as an example, that judges would be tasked with producing legal analyses, and therefore would require special skills in handling legal matters.

The Constitutional Court will also have a disciplinary arm, to handle judges violating its internal rulings and code of conduct.