Indonesia court rejects petitions to review pro-investment law

JAKARTA (Reuters) -A top court in Indonesia on Monday rejected several petitions to review a pro-investment law passed earlier this year, keeping alive a cornerstone of outgoing President Joko Widodo’s legacy of economic reform.

Labour groups had petitioned the Constitutional Court to review the so-called ‘omnibus law’, which they say unfairly favours businesses over workers and consumers and was formulated in an unconstitutional manner.

The law aims to streamline bureaucracy and attract investment into Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and has been lauded by investors.

Judges on Monday rejected the petitions in a hearing streamed online, saying the government’s formulation of the law was in line with the constitution.

Separately, the judges said the court would continue deliberating on the substance of the legislation but it was unclear when it would issue a ruling.

Environmental group Walhi criticised Monday’s decision in an Instagram post, saying the law was passed without adequate public participation.

Workers marched outside the court in central Jakarta, carrying banners and setting fire to a tyre.

The original Job Creation Law sparked massive protests across the country in 2020 as it attempted to loosen rules on mandatory severance pay and paid leave, and limit outsourcing to certain sectors.

In 2021, the Constitutional Court ruled the passage of that law was flawed due to inadequate public consultation and ordered lawmakers to restart the process within two years, or the law itself would be deemed unconstitutional.

In December 2022, President Jokowi, as he is known locally, issued an emergency decree to expedite parliamentary approval of the omnibus law.

On Monday, the judges said the pandemic and Ukraine war lent urgency to the president’s decision to issue the executive order.

But legal experts have criticised the presidential decree as a government ploy to bypass proper debate in parliament.

Meanwhile, civil society has questioned the independence of the Constitutional Court after Jokowi’s brother-in-law was reappointed chief justice in March.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)