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Do you still remember the incident of an Attorney who hit a Judge using a belt when the Judge was reading a decision in the Central Jakarta District Court? According to the news in the mass media, the Judge, who was a victim in the incident, made a report to the Central Jakarta District Police. The Judge said that the Attorney’s action was a Contempt of Court.[1] In addition to this incident, according to the Indonesian Judges Association, there are still many other incidents regarding the Contempt of Court, among others:[2] on 15 November 2003, the Larantuka District Court building, East Nusa Tenggara was burned by irresponsible parties. The same incident also occurred in the Maumere District Court, East Nusa Tenggara, in 2006. In 2011, another incident occurred in the Temanggung District Court in Central Java; in 2013 in the Depok District Court, West Java, and in 2018 in the Bantul District Court, Yogyakarta. The attacks that occur not only comprise of attacks on court infrastructure but also attacks against judges. In 2013, a Judge in Gorontalo was attacked while driving. Long before that, Chief Justice Syaifiuddin Kartasasmita was shot dead while driving to his office.

With the rise of incidents related to the Contempt of Court, the author will first explain the meaning of Contempt of Court according to Indonesian law.

Contempt of Court is a term derived from the common law system. Contempt means breaking, insulting, or looking down on. Court means judicial institution. From these two definitions, the Contempt of Court can be interpreted as an act both active and passive, behavior, attitudes, and/or statements both inside and outside the court that intends to undermine and undermine the authority, dignity, and honor of the judicial institution.

The term ‘Contempt of Court’ itself was first found in Item 4 Paragraph 4, General Elucidation of Law No. 14 Year 1985 concerning the Supreme Court, which states:

“Furthermore, to be able to guarantee the best condition for the court proceeding to establish law and justice based on Pancasila, therefore it is necessary to make a law that stipulates the action against any acts, behaviors, attitudes and/or statements that may humiliate and undermine the authorities, dignity, and honors of the court institutions known as “Contempt of Court.

Based on the Academic Paper for the Contempt of Court Research published by the Indonesian Supreme Court’s Law and Judicial Research and Development Center, in general, acts that can be categorized and qualified as Contempt of Court are acts, behavior, attitudes, and statements that can undermine the authority, dignity, and honor for judicial institutions.

Based on the Academic Paper, specifically, the types of acts mentioned are included in the definition of contempt to the court, among others:

  1. Misbehaving in Court;
  2. Disobeying Court Orders;
  3. Scandalising the Court;
  4. Obstructing Justice;
  5. Contempt of Court is done by notification/publication (Sub-Judice Rule).

In Indonesian law itself, Contempt of Courtis contained in several Article in Indonesian Criminal Code (“KUHP”) and Criminal Law Procedures Code (“KUHAP”).

1. Contempt of Court in KUHP

Article 207 KUHP

“Any person who with deliberate intent in public, orally or in writing, insults an authority or a public body set up in Indonesia, shall be punished by a maximum imprisonment of one year and six months or a maximum fine of three hundred Rupiahs.”

Article 217 KUHP

“The person who creates a sensation at a trial or at the place where an official publicly is acting in the lawful performance of his official duties and does not move away after the order was given by or on behalf of the competent authority shall be punished by a maximum imprisonment of three weeks or a maximum fine of hundred and twenty Rupiahs.”

Article 224 KUHP

“Any person who, statutorily summoned as a witness, as an expert or as an interpreter, deliberately disobeys a statutory duty which he has to fulfill as such, shall be punished:

1. in criminal cases by a maximum imprisonment of nine months;

2. in other cases, by a maximum imprisonment of six months.”

2. Contempt of Court in KUHAP

Article 217 KUHAP

“(1) The Presiding Judge at trial shall lead the examination and maintain rules of order during the trial.

(2) Any and all things ordered by the Presiding Judge at trial to maintain rules and order during trial shall be executed promptly and precisely.”

Article 218 KUHAP

“(1) In the courtroom, anyone whosoever shall be obliged to show respect for the court.

(2) Anyone whosoever who during trial displays an attitude unbefitting the dignity of the court and does not observe the rules of order, after having been warned by the Presiding Judge at trial, shall by His order be removed from the courtroom.

(3) Where a violation of the rules of orders as intended in Paragraph (2) is in the nature of an offense, this shall not reduce the possibility for the prosecution of the perpetrator.”

The Contempt of Court itself is also regulated in Draft Criminal Code Book (“Criminal Code Bill”), according to the Criminal Code Bill September 2019 version set out in Article 281, with a maximum imprisonment of 1 year or a maximum fine of 10 million Rupiahs. Article 281 of the Criminal Code Bill states that:

“Shall be punished by a maximum fine of Category II, any person who during the trial:

1. does not obey the court orders issued for the benefit of the judicial process;

2. being disrespectful towards judges or the trial or attacking the integrity of judges in the trial; or

3. without court permission, recording, publishing directly, or allowing trial proceedings to be published.”

The description of the Contempt of Court, as referred to above, shows that an action can be categorized as a Contempt of Court if such an act embarrasses and undermines the authority, dignity, and honor of court institutions. Therefore, based on Indonesian law, every action that is considered to embarrass and undermine the authority, dignity, and honor for: (i) the person who runs the court institution, (ii) court institution product, and (iii) the process of the court institution’s activities can be categorized as Contempt of Court.

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[1] 6 Fakta Aksi Brutal Pengacara Desrizal ‘Gesper’ Muka Hakim PN Jakpus, 19 July 2019,, accessed 3 April 2020.

[2] Tiga Hal yang Harus Kita Ketahui soal “Contempt of Court, 2 August 2019,, accessed 3 April 2020.

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