Smell of Extortion in Selection of Judges

The Supreme Court is now on the spotlight, again. The national selection of judges in 2017 has been smeared with the issue of extortion of the selection participants. The amount is astounding, between IDR 600 to 650 million, which has to be paid by the participants to the official suspected as a court employee, in order to pass the selection. The delay in the announcement of the selection, from 31 October to 3 November 2017, was also suspected to be related to the machinations to pass the participants who have paid the amount.

As reported by Tempo, selection participants from three cities: Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya, testified to Tempo that several court employees offered ‘help’ to raise the grades in the area competence examination. A selection participant in Yogyakarta claimed to have been approached by the court employee following the interview test in the Regional Office of the National Civil Servant Agency in Yogyakarta, in early October. The employee demanded that they pay up IDR 600 million to ensure their success in the selection of the judges.

The indication of the extortion has surprised the Supreme Court, which has initially guaranteed that there would be no irregularities in the 2017 selection of judge candidates. The Supreme Court’s authority in the selection of judges through the Candidate Civil Servant (CPNS) route is relatively minor, namely 25%, in the interview test, while the remaining 75% of the weighting of the evaluation is the shared responsibility of the National Civil Servant Agency (BKN) and the Ministry of Empowerment of State Apparatus and Bureaucratic Reform (Kemenpan-RB) as the national selection board.

The Supreme Court declared that 1607 participants, out of 30175 applicants, have passed the strict selection, including administration, basic skills, area skills, psychological examination and interview. The basic skills examination utilized the computer assisted test system of Kemenpan-RB.

Despite the strict selection process, an investigation of the alleged extortion must be done because it has surfaced in the public discourse, to find out the truth whether there was indeed an attempt of extortion, or whether it was a mere fraud attempt to fleece candidates who have high hopes of obtaining the position as a judge through the national selection process. “The selection of judges who are clean from corruption, collusion, and nepotism is a good start to obtain a pool of professional judges who have integrity,” said a spokesman for the Judicial Commission, Farid Wajdi.

In the end, the Supreme Court itself responds to this polemic by stating that it is ready to open the original result sheets for inspection to find out whether there are any discrepancies. Even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Hatta Ali, has ordered the Supervisory Board (Bawas) of the Supreme Court to investigate thoroughly the allegation of extortion or bribery in the selection of candidates of judges.

It is also important to make sure whether the extortion actually occurred or not, in order to identify which stage in the process still opens the possibility of misconduct. This is important, because it is planned that the Supreme Court will annually recruit to fulfill its needs of 4,000 judges, while Kemenpan-RB only approves 1,684 new judges to be recruited in 2017.

To strengthen the process of recruitment of judge candidates, the House of Representatives should also expedite the process of deliberation of the Judges Bill. The increasingly complex challenges of the judiciary require qualified candidates who are of high quality, maturity and integrity, and therefore the opportunities for truly mature professionals must be open as well. (A.Snyt)