Tue, 04 Jan 2000

Supreme Court 'backs' IBRA's power

JAKARTA (JP): The Supreme Court has rejected a proposal filed by the Indonesian Advocates' Association (AAI) to revoke the extraordinary power endowed to the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), according to a source at the association.

The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the 1999 governmental decree No. 17, more popularly known as PP-17, in its judicial review issued in early December, the source said here on Monday.

"The government has no intention to legalize the unfair and unlawful practice through the issuance of PP-17. The motive (of the issuance) was to accelerate -- amid the emergency economic situation -- the healing of the ailing banking sector and the recovery of state assets in an effective, efficient and fast, yet legalistic manner," according to the decision as quoted by the source.

The validity of the PP-17 decree, which gave IBRA judicial powers in carrying out its tasks, was challenged by the AAI which filed a judicial review in August at the Supreme Court.

AAI claimed PP-17, which allows IBRA to act like a court, was against with the Constitution and other existing laws.

These functions include the power to issue a restraining order, annul and amend a contract between any two parties, install or revoke any party's ownership upon any asset and make a confiscation order.

Harry Ponto from the Lontoh & Kailimang law firm, and also an executive member of the AAI, expressed disappointment toward the Supreme Court's judicial review decision.

"I respect the Supreme Court's decision, but we are still of the opinion that PP-17 is still legally defective," he said over the phone to The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He said granting IBRA a wide range of a judicial powers and allowing it to function as a court of law, merely based on PP-17, had breached a series of existing laws, including the country's own Constitution.

"According to Article 24 of the 1945 Constitution, the functions and authorities of a court of law can only be carried out strictly by the Supreme Court or any institution based on a law, not a governmental decree" he said.

He added that IBRA -- whose establishment is based merely on the governmental decree -- was not qualified to perform the functions of a court, according to the Constitution.

Harry also maintained that the law should not be discriminatory, as IBRA, based on PP-17, could breach the Constitution while others could not.

The Supreme Court said that through the eyes of moral justice, PP-17 was not wrong or unlawful, even though it was in the view of justice.

While rejecting a revocation of PP-17, the Supreme Court, however, specifically suggested that the government upgrade PP-17 to become a law.

"However, we advise PP-17 to be quickly upgraded to become a law to prevent more public controversies and to strengthen the legitimacy of the extra-judicial IBRA," it said.(udi)