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The Constitutional Court starting from last week changed their ‘Captain’. It was Prof Dr Mohammad Mahfud M.D. who replaced Prof. Dr. Jimly Asshiddiqie. The former Minister of Defense has some agenda to be realized in his term of office. It includes facing the possibility of many cases concerning the dispute over the result of the general election. This was a dialogue between Jawa Pos and Mahfud.

Congratulation! You are elected to be the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court. Is public really aware of the existence of the Court?

One thing that should be noted is the success of Pak Jimly. He managed to make the Court well-known. Constitutional Court has become the center for constitutional problems.

Let us take a look; if someone violates Human Rights, in fact he is brought before the Constitutional Court. Even though it was not its jurisdiction to deal with. Ahmadiyah case is even brought to this Court.

This is a good condition. It means, the Constitutional Court is really seen as the center of constitution. Maybe, if the first generation was not lead by Pak Jimly, it was not certain that the Constitutional Court could be like this. This extravagant building, we can not imagine, it is Pak Jimly’s result.

Besides being the Chief Justice of the Court, you are also a Constitution Justice. The Justice position restricts you to speak in public in order to secure independecy. What is your commitment?

Like this, I announced that I am willing to speak with the media, but not about something related to political affairs. So far as it is about law enforcement, it is still possible.

For sure, there are two things I will not get into. First, giving comments related to cases in the Court. I will not make any comments on that. If I am asked, I will say I don’t know.

The second is about political affairs. For example, if someone has a conflict about politic, I should not say anything. If after the verdict, it is possible. Yet, I will also not do it, to avoid the impression of defending myself or making myself as the right one.

What if the verdict issued by the Court starts a controversy among the people. Are you ready to handle it?

Let it be so. Verdict indeed starts a controversy. Because there must be a losing party. Justices, in drafting a verdict, do not have to consider whether or not there is a controversy. That is not the Court’s problem. The Court has to put the cases in their position. Against the 1945 Constitution or not. That is the job.

During the election of Chief Justice, there is a sharp critic from Justice Abdul Mukthie Fadjar saying that the Constitutional Court had too many agenda of events. In fact, there was hope that Constitutional Court Justices should not act like celebrities?

May be, Pak Mukhtie experienced that in the last 5 years. I,myself, have not felt it. May be, what he means is the discussion meeting between the Constitutional Court and parties. Actually, it is fine so far as that it is general. It may be not a critic, it is just Pak Mukhtie’s opinion.

Now the disput over the result of the general election has become the Constitutional Court jurisdiction. What preparation have you made?

If it is the software, we have prepared them. One of which is the Regulation of the Constitutional Court concerning legislative election. The election now has a parliamentary threshold (PT), there is a minimum limit of 2,5 percent of the national legalized vote. In fact, it is possible for individual to make a claim. We imagine that there would be many individuals who make claims to the Constitutional Court.

District Court, for example, someone who has a proof to fulfil the District Court, absolutely will have a case in the Constitutional Court. Now we are preparing that.

The Regulation for Regional Election, needs a final touch. But, the Regulation later will be binding the Justices. Yet, the verdict as the result of the Regulation of the Constitutional Court binds the outside parties.

How long is it ideally someone to have a case in the Court until reaching the verdict?

Actually there is no limitation. It depends on the complexity of the cases. Several time ago there was a case that needed two trials only. There was starting from the beginning did not need any witness. It only required the expertise of the justices.

For example, several times ago there was a case that the Act on Religious Court was against the Constitution, because, the Religious Court only applied Islam Penal Codes. It was reviewed so that there was not only Islamic Penal Law, but all Islamic laws. Then, we could answer it ourselves; we did not to invite expert witness. In the third trial, they were invited, the verdict was read, and it was denied.

But, there are cases that take a long time, for example, about the claim made by the reporters and journalists against the articles in the Criminal Codes. It took a long time because the Petitioners and the Government both came up with experts. The petitioners had a witness from other countries that needed to make a teleconference to London.

Indeed, there was not any standard. The most important thing is that a case come in, it is processed in the Registrar to the maximum of 14 days. It has to be responded whether or not the case meets the administrative requirements. If it meets the requirements, a panel of justice is formed consisting of three justices for the preliminary trial. Then it goes to the assembly session.

The Constitutional Court, seems faster in dealing with cases, different from the pile of cases in the Supreme Court that seems not to end?

It will not happen in the Constitutional Court. Because there is a standard. When we are about to read the verdict, the script of the verdict is final to be read altogether. Here it is read out sentence per sentence.

The verdict of the Constitutional Court has a beautiful language. Scientific but not to heavy. It does not follow the pattern of general courts that use Dutch Language and is difficult to understand.

Even more, 15 minutes after the verdict is read out, it can be accessed through the website. For the parties involved, it is not even 15 minutes. When the trial is closed, just wait a moment for the verdict to be signed then it could be handed over. It does not take weeks.

How do you respond to the courts mob?

Having a case in the Constitutional Court is free of charge. Everything is paid by the state. Besides that, having a case in the Constitutional Court can not be mobbed. Because if an act is annulled, the Parliament just have to make a new Law. Having a case in the Constitutional Court did not involve personal importance. And so far as I am here, the temptation does not exist. (tomy c.gutomo/anggit satriyo/kum)

Source www.jawapos.co.id (24/08/08)

Photo Courtesy of Documentation of Constitutional Court Public Relation

Translated by Yogi Djatnika.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | 10:57 WIB 221
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