Alya Nurbaiti, Jakarta – The Central Jakarta District Court has issued on Tuesday an interlocutory decision that it has jurisdiction to preside over the air pollution lawsuit filed by citizens against the government.
The next step is for parties to prove their allegations about severe air pollution in the capital and that the defendants have been negligent in their duties to provide clean air for residents.
Previously, some of the defendants, namely the president of the Republic of Indonesia, the home affairs minister and the Jakarta governor, filed an exception requiring the court to delegate the case to the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN), as Supreme Court Regulation (Perma) No. 2/2019 required any lawsuit on unlawful acts against the government to be handled at the PTUN.
However, the panel of judges agreed to continue the case at the district court. "Unlawful acts in the citizen lawsuit mechanism refers to legal actions pertaining to the public interest. Meanwhile, unlawful acts in Perma No. 2/2019 rerfers to individual interest," Judge Saifudin Zuhri said as quoted in a written statement made by the Coalition for the Clean Air Initiative, the plaintiff.
The group appreciated the court's decision. "This is the right and wise decision given that our lawsuit doesn't meet the criteria of a case to be resolved at the PTUN, that is concrete, individual and final," coalition member Ayu Eza Tiara of the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) said.
The group lambasted the fact that the case had been going on for one year since it was filed on July 4, 2019, yet the defendants had not taken steps to solve the pollution problem.
"Data show that Jakarta's air quality continued to deteriorate throughout 2019 based on the number of PM 2.5 pollutant particles in the air. Even after the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and work-from-home appeal, the air quality in April was still not in "good" territory according to Greenpeace Indonesia," the group wrote.
The coalition has demanded that the panel of judges consider the health of residents in examining the case.
They also urged the defendants to immediately improve Jakarta's air quality without waiting for the court's ruling, as the obligation of state administrators to guarantee the availability of clean air was mandated by the Constitution.
"And to Jakartans, let's not cease to be critical and demand our rights to clean and healthy air, as it is part of the right to a good and healthy environment," said the coalition.