Central Jakarta District Court Has No Authority to Postpone Elections
The Central Jakarta District Court has no authority to order the KPU to stop the election process or to ask the KPU to restart the 2024 election process.
IQBAL BASYARI, DIAN DEWI PURNAMASARI, KURNIA YUNITA RAHAYU
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JAKARTA, KOMPAS — The General Elections Commission (KPU) will continue with the stages of the 2024 elections as scheduled. The Central Jakarta District Court has no authority to order the KPU to stop the election process or to ask the KPU to restart the 2024 election process.
The judicial panel at the Central Jakarta District Court, comprising lead judge T. Oyong and judges H. Bakri and Doweeks Silaban, read out their decision to accept the civil lawsuit from the Just Prosperous People (Prima) Party on Thursday (2/3/2023). The judicial panel also ruled that the election organizer had acted unlawfully and must pay material compensation of Rp 500 million (US$32,630).
The Prima Party had filed its lawsuit because it felt disadvantaged during the verification of political parties as participants in the 2024 election.
In addition, the KPU was ordered to stop the remaining stages of the 2024 elections from the date of the decision and to restart the election process of a period of approximately two years, four months and seven days. The judicial panel also stated that the court’s decision must be executed immediately.
KPU chairman Hasyim Asy'ari said the commission would appeal to the high court. Meanwhile, it would continue with the preparations for the 2024 elections because the process and schedule were regulated in KPU Regulation No. 3/2022. The court’s decision did not refer to the regulation, so it could still continue the 2024 election process.
He also said the KPU had submitted an exception during the hearing. The KPU stated that according to Law No. 7/2017 on elections, the authority to examine the KPU’s regulations was in the hands of the State Administrative Court (PTUN), including the issue of Prima’s eligibility, which the PTUN had examined and had declared ineligible. Because of this, the KPU's regulations, including that on determining which political parties could participate in the 2024 elections, remained valid and unchanged.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud M.D. said the Central Jakarta District Court had caused a sensation. "Based on legal reasoning, the KPU has won. Why? Because a district court does not have the authority to make such a decision," he said.
This belief was based on several things. First, any disputes over the process, administration and results of the elections were not in the jurisdiction of district courts, but the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the State Administrative Court. District courts did not have the legal competence to hear election disputes. A civil lawsuit cannot be filed against the KPU over organizing the elections.
It must be legally refuted and the public can opposed it if it must be executed.
“A district court cannot issue a ruling to postpone the election process in a civil case. A district court cannot issue any ruling that could delay the elections. According to the Elections Law, postponement of the vote can be decided only by the KPU for certain areas for a specific reason, not for all of Indonesia," said Mahfud.
According to him, the Central Jakarta District Court's ruling cannot be executed.
“It must be legally refuted and the public can opposed it if it must be executed. Why? Because the right to hold elections is not a civil right of the KPU," he said.
No need to execute
Hamdan Zoelva, a former Constitutional Court chief justice, opined that the KPU did not need to execute the court’s decision. This was because an immediate court decision was generally not issued in cases like this, but in very simple cases dealing with breaches of contract that involved only two parties in the litigation. In fact, this particular decision was related to the public interest, the interests of all political parties and the interests of all Indonesian citizens.
Hamdan added that a district court could not issue a ruling on public aspects related to the KPU’s policies, let alone postpone the elections. Even if the KPU was in the wrong, the maximum decision that could be handed down was compensation. "So if the court postpones the election, it is wrong, because this is not [within] its authority," he said.
Election Law lecturer Titi Anggraini, from the University of Indonesia School of Law, said the Central Jakarta District Court’s decision was confusing and needed to be explained to all parties. "In order to avoid wild speculation, the Judicial Commission needs to be proactive in taking the appropriate steps," said Titi.
Prima Party chairman Agus Jabo Priyono said the party sued the KPU because the commission had acted unlawfully in refusing Prima's rights as an election participant and to be elected.
This article was translated by Hendarsyah Tarmizi.