Constitutional Review and Freedom of Religion


Pan Mohamad Faiz, New Delhi, India*

The history and development of constitutional practice in Indonesia within 62 years never asides from process of trial and error. It is conducted to create more democratic living society with a high respect on human right values.

One of the important developments in our constitutional structure was the establishment of Constitutional Court as a response of demand for strengthening the check and balances mechanism in government’s role system.

The improvement of constitutional living post-amendment has developed very fast day by day. Recently, Indonesian society has entranced into a new stage of constitutional practice in regards to fight for their basic rights on freedom of religion. These basic rights has clearly stated in Article 28B (1), Article 28I (1), and Article 29 of 1945 Constitution as well as in International Human Rights instruments, particularly in Article 18 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 18 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Till today, the main problem regarding to the protection of freedom of religion never emerge in the latitude of constitutional review. It is a decision of Constitutional Court No. 12/PUU-V/2007 on Constitutional Review of certain recruitments for practicing polygamy under the Marriage Act, 1974 which has opened the gate to start the constitutional activism for the protection of freedom of religion in order to implement the religious practice as a fundamental right of every Indonesian citizen.

Whatever the verdict of Constitutional Court which has a final and binding decision, we can conclude that the horizon of Indonesian constitutional practice has begun to move forward with the issue which has a close relationship between conception of constitution, freedom of religion and citizen.

Constitution as a supreme law of the land is a basic structure of governmental system in every nation. Every country, however, has different characteristic of its constitution which can influence the form of the state. In regards to the freedom of religion, we often hear a difference between the concept of religious state, secular state, and other concepts.

The result of 46th Amendment of Indian Constitution which added the word ”secular” in its Preamble has shown that India is a secular state with special emphasize in respect to the values on freedom of religion and tolerance.

The First Amendment of American Constitution gives a guarantee on freedom of religion for each of its citizen, but it doesn’t give any chance for its legislature to make any Law that can regulate the religious practice.

In their research on relationship between constitution and freedom of religion, Tad Stahnke and Robert C. Blitt (2005) divided the countries which have majority muslim population into four categorizes, they are: first, the countries declaring themselves as an Islamic-State; second, the countries stating Islam as the official religion of the state; third, the countries declaring themselves as secular-state; and fourth, the country never declaring anything in their constitution, whereas one of them is Indonesia.

If Indonesia is categorized as the latest, then the question is what is the real concept of our state which has been created by our founding fathers? To answer this question, Mahfud M.D. tries to explain using the prismatic conception which is adopted from the terminology made by Fred. W. Riggs.

From the constitutional perspectives, according to him, Indonesia is a Pancasila State. It means that Indonesia neither is a religion-state nor a secular state. A religion-state only based on a particular religion while a secular-state prevents religion from interfering with state affairs. Moreover, the Pancasila State is a religious nation state in which a nation protects and facilitates the development of all religions followed by the people without any different treatment due to the quantity of its followers.

In this context, it is a must that a State has to have a constitutional obligation to protect the freedom of religion for each of its citizen. Quoting the association which is used by Jimly Asshiddiqie, when the Constitution stands on one of our hands, the holy book has also stand in another hand. It means that those two things have to work in harmony and it cannot contradict one to each others.

Using the approach of comparative study, Indonesia is one of the countries which lacks of experience on the effort of protection of freedom of religion through the constitutional review mechanism. In fact, this mechanism has become an important tool in other countries when the right to practice the freedom of religion cumbered by the regulation or any actions of the State.

In some countries, such as India, United States and Germany, the constitutional review on the ground of freedom of religion is a common practice. For instance, the case on Mudghal v. India (1995) about the planning of law unification due to the growing practice of polygamy in India, or the case on Wels v. United State (1970) about the rejection of one person to accede the battle of war because it is against his belief.

Another interesting case on Federal Constitutional Court of Germany (Bundesverfassungsgericht) is “the traditional slaughter case” (BvR 1783/99, 2002). The court accepted the petition of constitutional review on the provision of animal slaughter method under the Animal Protection Act. Several provisions on this Act, according to the applicant, hamper the practice of worship based on his religion.

With the development on constitutional review practice, the guarantee and the protection of freedom of religion and its practice will become stronger. Unfortunately, the constitutional review in Indonesia merely can be done by reviewing laws against the Constitution. It excludes from the mechanism of constitutional complaint where it has become the most important authority of the Germany Constitutional Court.

Consequently, many government actions in the middle of society, all form of regulations and decisions of court which are believed violate the provision of freedom of religion in 1945 Constitution cannot be reviewed perfectly before the Constitutional Court.

It means that the Indonesian constitutional system and its practice have to be developed more seriously. Due to the lacuna of constitutional protection mechanism, it can be predicted that in the future there will be a huge obstacle to fulfill the basic rights of citizen in order to achieve the intrinsic of freedom of religion.

* The writer is a Postgraduate student on Comparative Constitutional Law at Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. He can be reached on

Indonesian Parliament vs. Indonesian Constitutional Court

The Ninth Schedule of India:
An Alternative Solution for Indonesian Constitutional Balances?

The Ninth Schedule is a Constitutional provision of India which was drafted by the Nehru Government in 1952 granting Parliament the power to insulate any law from judicial review. The provision came into sharp focus as the political class tended to use it for all kinds of things.

According to this provision, none of the laws specified in the Schedule shall be deemed to be void, or ever to have become void, on the ground that it was inconsistent with any judgment, decree or order of any court or tribunal to the contrary. This meant that the laws figuring in the Ninth Schedule were not subject to judicial review.

The justification offered was that courts should not be allowed to get in the way of socialist policies such as land reform. Accordingly, all the 13 laws that were put in the Schedule in the first instance pertained to land reforms in various states. Presently, the number of laws in the Schedule has in the process jumped from 13 to 28.

Given it potential, successive governments have conferred the Ninth Schedule protection on a variety of laws, often chosen on consideration of political expediency. The reason why political parties again felt the need for the Schedule in the context of reservations was there recent verdict of the Supreme Court extending the creamy layer rule to SCs (schedules castes) and STs (schedules tribes).

The condition which I have illustrated above is quite similar with today issues where Indonesian Parliament want to have it. It was happen because many provisions of Act which have been enacted by Parliament were declared unconstitutional as judicial review petition came before the Indonesian Constitutional Court. At least several provisions from eight different Acts have been declared unconstitutional by the Court evey year. Even there were two decisions which had nullified a whole provision of its Act since three years back, namely the Electricity Act and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act. Therefore, the parliament felt uncomfortably with the decisions of Indonesian Constitutional Court who did not count an effort of legislators struggling and debating when they were making a Law.

Due to that condition, I was not very surprise when one of my faculty Professors invited and informed me that there were delegations from the Legislation Body of Parliament of Indonesia who came to share a comparative legislation in India last month. Fortunately I met and participated in the discussion meeting between Indonesian delegations and Professor of Laws from Delhi University, thus I knew what they were discussing inside.

One of the interesting questions rose in that discussion was the question regarding the legislation system in India to preventing the enacted laws by Parliament applied for judicial review before the Court. In that time, the representative professor just answered the question with a briefly explanation. They didn’t explained about the Ninth Schedule which I have explained before or may be I can say that they were all forget about this provisions.

It is great news for Indonesian Legislator, isn’t it? Finally, there is an example of balancing system in another country which can prevent all the laws totally applied for judicial review. If you think so, it means that you have to consider once again whether this system can be used for Indonesian judicial system in the future.

The reason why we should consider more for that system is because of persisting with its assertive mode vis-a-vis the legislature, the Supreme Court of India who has an authority to deal with judicial review application said on this week that laws put in the Ninth Schedule after April 1973 cannot escape judicial scrutiny if they appeared to breach citizenship’s fundamental rights or undermine the basic structure of the constitution.

In articulating the test of legality of ninth schedule laws, the Supreme Court of India virtually carved out the fundamental among the fundamental rights that form the basic structure of the Constitution and hence, inviolable. Moreover, a nine-judge constitutional bench of the court said right to equality, right to freedom of speech and expression with all their extended in interpretations form the core of the Constitution, which could by no means be violated by Parliament’s amending power.

The court took the extended interpretations of the fundamental rights as an integral part and demonstrated it by examples their vitality to the system of governance in the country. The legislature, depending on the situation, can limit it, but cannot pass a law totally abrogating it and the moment they pass such a law, it will the protection of the ninth schedule.

Conferring Parliament unlimited power the legislate even if it meant defeating the fundamental rights would translate into a licence to enact laws in the name of giving shape to the social justice principles under the Directive Principles, even if it practically breached fundamentals of Constitution that also incorporated social interest clause.

So, there is no way to adopt this system into Indonesian constitutional system. Because of those Court’s decisions, a brighten hope for Indonesian legislator has just gone by the wind. But please think more, since the decision is still debatable among Indian law expertise, it means there is a chance to bring the system with a little modification into Indonesian constitutional system. A senior advocate and former solicitor general of India, T. R. Andhyarunija, said that the latest judgment of the Court does not really break new ground as this was already decided by the Court in 1980 in Waman Rao’s case. Therefore, the latest judgment should not affect Indian Parliament’s power to amend the Ninth Schedule materially.

Finally, if you are in the same boat as Parliament’ thought who thinks that there should be a more restriction for Constitutional Court regarding to its decision authority which some Indonesian legal prominent said that the decree of the Court was often “ultra petitum”, adding the provision such kind of the ninth schedule into Indonesian constitution can be an alternative way despite to review the provisions of Constitutional Court either in 1945 Constitution or Law No. 24 of 2004 on Constitutional Court.

I hopeIndonesia could find the best way to establish his constitutional system in the future days.

Judicial Review UU Hasil Perjanjian Internasional


Pemerintah Republik Indonesia dalam melaksanakan politik luar negerinya selalu berusaha melakukan berbagai upaya untuk memperjuangkan kepentingan nasionalnya diantaranya adalah dengan membuat suatu perjanjian internasional dengan negara lain, organisasi internasional dan subjek hukum lainnya. Dalam pengesahan perjanjian internasional terbagi dalam empat kategori, yaitu Ratifikasi (ratification), Aksesi (accesion), Penerimaan (acceptance) atau penyetujuan (approval), dan hasil perjanjian-perjanjian internasional yang sifatnya self-executing (langsung berlaku pada saat penandatanganan).

Menurut Undang Undang No. 24 tahun 2003 tentang Mahkamah Konstitusi, pada Pasal 10 dinyatakan bahwa Mahkamah Konstitusi berwenang mengadili pada tingkat pertama dan terakhir yang putusannya bersifat final untuk menguji undang-undang terhadap Undang-Undang Dasar Negara Republik Indonesia Tahun 1945.
Dengan demikian sekilas mata maka perjanjian internasional yang disahkan dengan undang-undang, sesuai dengan Undang-Undang No. 24 tahun 2000, dapat diajukan ke hadapan Mahkamah Konstitusi untuk di uji apakah sesuai dengan UUD 1945. Maka dapat dimungkinkan undang-undang yang mengesahkan perjanjian internasional tersebut dapat dibatalkan keberlakuannya oleh Mahkamah Konstitusi.
Kemudian yang menjadi pertanyaannya adalah, dibenarkankah UU yang mensahkan perjanjian Internasional dimana mempunyai karakteristik khusus dapat di-judicial review-kan di hadapan Mahkamah Konstitusi? Jika memungkinkah, maka dampak apa saja yang ditimbulkan, baik itu secara nasional maupun internasional, bilamana UU tersebut dibatalkan oleh Mahkamah Konstitusi?

Artikel berikut akan menjawab dan menguraikan secara sistematis mengenai tata cara pengajuan apabila suatu saat terjadi pembatalan atas UU yang mensahkan perjanjian internasional.

Click here to download this research paper

Source: Jurnal Konstitusi Vol. 3 Nomor 1 ( Februari 2006)

Qua Vadis Sistem Pendidikan Nasional



Salah satu faktor yang menjadi penentu utama bagi perkembangan dan kemajuan pendidikan nasional kita, tidak lain adalah faktor alokasi anggaran di bidang pendidikan. Ketentuan mengenai anggaran pendidikan telah diamanatkan secara langsung oleh Undang-Undang Dasar Negara RI Tahun 1945 (UUD Negara RI 1945) dalam Pasal 31 ayat (4) yang berbunyi “Negara memperioritaskan anggaran pendidikan sekurang-kurangnya dua puluh persen dari anggaran pendapatan dan belanja negara serta dari anggaran pendapatan dan belanja daerah untuk memenuhi kebutuhan penyelenggaraan pendidikan nasional”. Bahkan terhadap pengalokasian anggaran pendidikan tersebut telah ditegaskan kembali pada Pasal 49 ayat (1) Undang-undang No. 20 Tahun 2003 tentang Sistem Pendidikan Nasional (UU Sisdiknas) yang berbunyi “Dana pendidikan selain gaji pendidik dan biaya pendidikan kedinasan dialokasikan minimal 20% dari Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Negara (APBN) pada sektor pendidikan dan minimal 20% dari Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Daerah (APBD)”. Dalam hal ini ketentuan tersebut berarti telah menggariskan bahwa anggaran 20 persen harus benar-benar murni di luar gaji guru dan biaya pendidikan kedinasan lainnya.
Akan tetapi, semenjak UU Sisdiknas tersebut disahkan pada tanggal 8 Juni 2003, realitas yang terjadi di lapangan justru berkata lain. Penyusunan dan pengalokasian anggaran pendidikan baik di tingkat Pusat maupun Daerah, ternyata tidak sejalan dengan apa yang telah diamanatkan oleh UUD 1945 dan UU Sisdiknas. Oleh karena itu, beberapa warga negara yang merasa hak konstitutionalnya dirugikan, mengajukan permohonan kepada Mahkamah Konstitusi untuk melakukan Judicial Review UU Sisdiknas dan APBN terhadap UUD Negara RI Tahun 1945.

Artikel berikut mencoba mengupas mengenai kondisi keterpurukan sistem pendidikan di Indonesia, terutama mengenai tidak tercapainya mata anggaran pendidikan sebesar 20% sebagaimana telah diamanatkan oleh Konstitusi. Tulisan ini juga mencoba menganalisa secara kritis atas putusan Mahkamah Konstitusi terhadap permohonan judicial review Episode I atas UU SISDIKNAS dan UU APBN 2005.

Click here to download this article

Source: Unpublished