The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia (MK) released its Annual Report of 2023 “Calibrating the Constitutional Interpretation” at a special plenary session and the opening of the legal year of 2024 on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at the plenary courtroom. Chief Justice Suhartoyo delivered a speech before all guests both onsite and online, alongside the other eight constitutional justices.
At the session, he said that 2023 marked two decades of the Court’s existence since its establishment, during which it had faced challenges. The constitutional justices and Court leadership from period to period have faced challenges according to their respective eras while performing their duties and authority.
“One of the Court’s biggest challenges from time to time is obtaining, improving, and maintaining public trust. Why is it important for the judiciary? As Alexander Hamilton said centuries ago, “the judiciary… has no influence over either the sword or the purse,” but depends on public trust and awareness to comply with its decisions. In a democracy, supremacy of the law heavily relies on the citizens’ compliance and willingness to accept and implement every decision of the courts, including those that they don’t agree with,” said Chief Justice Suhartoyo.
Therefore, he said, the constitutional justices are fully cognizant that all of the Court’s business processes rely on public trust, without which it cannot work optimally. Low public trust is a serious issue. The Constitutional Court and all of the constitutional justices, especially its leadership, also have also been facing this challenge since 2023 until today.
Restoring Public Trust
Chief Justice Suhartoyo said that after he took oath as chief justice on November 13, 2023, the deputy chief justice, all the constitutional justices, and he had taken important steps to restore and improve public trust. Furthermore, the constitutional justices fully believe that ahead of the upcoming 2024 general election results disputes (PHPU) resolution, restoring public trust is a necessity.
“Therefore, for the past two months, we have made adjustments internally, such as ensuring on-time court proceedings, including the justice deliberation meetings (RPH), accelerating case resolution period, improving the quality of the decisions by mandating all constitutional justices to submit a written legal opinion, and improving the quality of public services for justice seekers. As part of the effort to restore public trust, we have also come to several media companies and scheduled more visits as part of our effort to obtain inputs and constructive criticism on how and what we should do to restore and improve public trust,” he said.
The chief justice believes it reflects the Court’s commitment to improve. However, it would not work without the support of friends of the Court and society. “We have high hopes that all stakeholders would help the Court maintain and improve the freedom and independence of the judicial power, as stipulated in Article 24 paragraph (1) of the 1945 Constitution,” he said.
Constitutional Court’s Achievements
The chief justice further stated that in 2023, the Court had handled only judicial review cases. Out of the 202 cases processed in 2023, 19 were registered in 2022 while 183 were registered in 2023, 136 of them have been decided—19 of those registered in 2022 and 117 of those registered in 2023. Out of all 136 cases that have been ruled, 13 petitions were granted, 57 were rejected, 41 were dismissed, while 25 were withdrawn by the petitioners.
In 2023, 65 laws were petitioned. Out of them, Law No. 7 of 2017 on General Elections was most challenged (42 times), followed by Law No. 11 of 2020 on Job Creation (11 times), Law No. 8 of 1981 on the Criminal Code or KUHP (7 times), and Law No. 1 of 2023 on the Criminal Procedure Code or KUHAP (6 times).
Chief Justice Suhartoyo stressed that outside of judicial activities, the Court holds programs and activities for information and communications technology development, constitution awareness program for the citizens, organizational development, book publishing, national and international cooperation, improvement of Court information dissemination strategies, bureaucratic reform, anti-corruption culture development, as well as digital archives management—all of which the Court has carried out well.
Several guests attending the special plenary session included National Police Chief Listyo Sigit, MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly) Deputy Speaker Arsul Sani, and Judicial Commission Chairman Amzulian Rifai. Meanwhile, international guests who attended online included the Constitutional Tribunal of Myanmar, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the Constitutional Court of Mongolia, the Constitutional Court of Thailand, the Constitutional Court of Korea, and the Supreme Court of Mexico.