|Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia
Mahkamah Konstitusi Republik Indonesia
National Emblem of Indonesia
|Established||August 13, 2003|
|Composition method||3 nominated by DPR, 3 by the President, 3 by the Supreme Court, and Presidential appointment.|
|Authorized by||Constitution of Indonesia|
|Judge term length||Five years
|Number of positions||9|
|Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court|
|Since||April 1, 2013|
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Mahkamah Konstitusi Republik Indonesia) was established as a consequence of the third amendment to the Constitution of Indonesia, which was ratified by the People's Consultative Assembly on 9 November 2001 
Between the adoption of the third Constitutional amendment and the establishment of the Constitutional Court, the duties of the Constitutional Court were carried out by the Supreme Court.
In August 2003, the People's Consultative Assembly passed the Constitutional Court Act (Law No 24 of 2003) and the nine justices were appointed on 15 August. They were sworn in the following day. On 15 October 2003, the Supreme Court handed over authority, marking the start of the Constitutional Court's activities. The nine founding judges were:
- Prof. Dr. Jimly Asshiddiqie from the University of Indonesia
- DR. Harjono from Airlangga University, Surabaya,
- I Gede Dewa Palguna from Udayana University, Denpasar
- Dr. Laica Marzuki, a former judge of the Supreme Court
- Maruarar Siahaan, former chairman of the High Court of Bengkulu
- Soedarsono, former chairman of the Administrative High Court of Surabaya
- Prof. Mukthie Fajar from Brawijaya University, Malang
- Prof. H.A.S. Natabaya from Sriwijaya University, Palembang
- Lieutenant General (Retired) Roestandi.
For the first time, a prominent scholar who was actively involved in the process of discussing amendments to the Indonesian constitution and with the introduction of the idea of the constitutional court, Prof. DR. Jimly Asshiddiqie was elected the first chief judge (2003–2006). With the successful completion of his first period on the court, he was then reelected as the chief judge for a second term of 2006-2009. He resigned from the court after finishing his first five-year term of office. The leadership of the court continued under Prof. Dr. Mohammad Mahfud, a senior politician of National Awakening Party and member of parliament. The constitutional court has five jurisdictions:
- Constitutional review of legislation (law)
- Disputes about constitutional competence between state institutions
- Disputes about electoral results
- Dissolution of political parties
- Impeachment of the president or vice president
With the establishment of the court, the aim is to safeguard democracy and the constitution according the principle of rule of law, and the constitutional rights of the people and human rights can be protected accordingly. The high profile performance of the constitutional court has made it a respected institution in Indonesia. During the general election and the first presidential election in 2004, the role taken by the constitutional court was widely appreciated by the people. Many landmark decisions have been made in the fields of politics, social, and economic law. The rehabilitation of the political rights of former members of communist party, the prohibition of retroactive law of anti-terrorism, the abolition of articles of subversive law and of defamation against presidential institution, etc., are among the landmark decisions which made it influential in guiding the new democracy of Indonesia. The court is quite new institution so it is not surprising that there is much public discussion in Indonesia about the appropriate nature of the Constitutional Court; topics of discussion include the processes of appointment of judges; the delineation of responsibilities between the Constitutional Court and other parts of the legal system; and overall approach that the Court has taken to the issues that it has considered.
In mid-2011 the Indonesian parliament approved certain changes to the 2003 Constitutional Court Law that established the Constitutional Court. The revisions approved include changes to the arrangements for the Court's ethics council, a strengthening of the qualifications and experience required for the appointment of justices, a reduction in the term of the Court's chair and deputy chair (to two-and-a-half years, down from three years), and lifting the mandatory retirement age for justices from 67 years to 70 years. The proposal to change the arrangements for the membership of the Court's ethics council was a controversial issue with the first chief judge of the court, Jimly Asshiddiqie, describing the planned changes as "frivolous."
The court has the same legal standing as the Supreme Court. Its powers, which are laid down in article 24C of the Constitution, include the final say in reviewing law about the Constitution, disputes over the authority of state institutions, the dissolution of political parties and disputes over election results. It also is obliged to rule on any attempt to impeach the president.
Its jurisdiction on the electoral disputes  was first limited to the five-yearly general elections (such as the 2004 and 2009 general elections). However, since 2009 the definition of general election has been broadened and includes the election of governors and regency heads (bupati). Up till now, out of the five jurisdictions of the court, the main cases handled by the court have centered around issues of judicial review, disputes on electoral results, and on disputes between state institutions.
A major problem for the court, like other parts of the legal system in Indonesia, is enforcement of decisions. The ability of the court system in Indonesia to have decisions enforced is sometimes quite weak and in recent years across Indonesia local officials have, in some cases, refused to abide by important decisions of the Constitutional Court.
Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court
The chief justice of the court is elected by the members of the court from amongst their number.
First chief justice. The first chief justice was Prof. DR. Jimly Asshiddiqie. He was well known in the position of chief judge, often making media appearances and offering comment on a range of public policy issues.
Second chief justice. The second chief justice, Mahfud MD, first elected in 2008, was re-elected in mid-2011 for a second term. Mahfud won five of the nine court judges' votes, winning over two other candidates. As was the case with his predecessor in the position, Mahfud MD is well known in Indonesia for media appearances and frequent public commentary. He is popular, but his comments are sometimes controversial. Following his re-election, The Jakarta Post noted that "He is down to earth and his courage is well known" but also suggested that "As chief judge of the Constitutional Court, he should rather talk less and in contexts of the Constitution." His name is sometimes mentioned in the media as a possible candidate in the next presidential elections in Indonesia to be held in 2014. His term as chief justice ended on 1 April 2013.
Third chief justice. An election to choose the third chief justice was held on 3 April 2013 and Akil Mochtar was elected. Akil was elected with seven of the total of nine votes cast. Akil, a former politician from the Golkar party, has been a justice on the Constitutional Court since 2008. He is described as inclined to take a conservative approach in legal matters. He has said that in contrast to his predecessor, Machmud MD, he "would not talk to reporters much about politics."
Justices of the Constitutional Court
The Indonesian Constitution specifies that the Court must have nine justices. The Indonesian Parliament (the DPR or House of Representatives), the president and the Supreme Court are each entitled to appoint three justices to serve five-year terms.
The current justices (April 2013) of the Constitutional Court are:
- Akil Mochtar (Chief)
- Achmad Sodiki
- Maria Farida Indarti
- Muhammad Alim
- Ahmad Fadlil Sumadi
- Hamdan Zoelva
- Anwar Usman
- Arief Hidayat
- Constitutional economics
- Rule of law
- Rule According to Higher Law
- Denny Indrayana (2008) Indonesian Constitutional Reform 1999-2002: An Evaluation of Constitution-Making in Transition, Kompas Book Publishing, Jakarta ISBN 978-979-709-394-5
- Jimly Asshiddiqie (2009), "The Constitutional Law of Indonesia: A Compehensive Overview", Thompson Sweet & Maxwell Asia, Singapore.
- Constitutional Court Website
- Denny Indrayana (2008), pp. 241, 266
- Constitutional Court Website: History of The Constitution Court accessed 2009-05-17
- Prodita Sabarini and Ina Parlina, 'Constitutional Court: Independence of the last resort', The Jakarta Post, 3 May 2013.
- 'Constitutional Court's power to be limited', The Jakarta Globe, 15 June 2011. Dicky Christanto, 'House passes amendments to Constitutional Court law', The Jakarta Post, 22 June 2011
- Jimly Asshiddiqie, The Constitutional Law of Indonesia: A Comprehensive Overview, Thompson Sweet & Maxwell Asia (2009).
- See International Crisis Group, Indonesia: Defying the State, Update Briefing, Asia Briefing No 138, 30 August 2012.
- 'Editorial: Focus on the Constitution', The Jakarta Post, 26 August 2011. This editorial provides useful commentary on the election of Mahfud MD to the position of chief judge and on his high profile role in Indonesia.
- ''Chances slim' for Mahfud M.D. to win presidency', The Jakarta Post, 7 January 2012.
- Ina Parlina, 'Ex-Golkar-lawmaker to lead Constitutional Court', The Jakarta Post, 4 April 2013.
- Prodita Sabarini, 'Akil Mochtar Turning the Tide', The Jakarta Post, 2 May 2013.
- Ina Parlina and Margareth S Aritonang, 'House begins selection of new Constitutional Court justice', The Jakarta Post, 28 February 2013.
- Brief biographical details are at Prodita Sabarini and Ina Parlina, 'Profiles of new Constitutional Court justices', The Jakarta Post, 3 May 2013.
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