Char­ter Court faces ‘re­set’ blitz

At least five judges could lose their jobs

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - MONGKOL BANGPRAPA

The Con­sti­tu­tional Court is likely to be par­tially “re­set” as some of the ex­ist­ing judges who do not meet the stricter qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments un­der the new con­sti­tu­tion will be re­moved, a Con­sti­tu­tion Draft­ing Com­mit­tee (CDC) spokesman says.

CDC spokesman Amorn Wanichwiwatana yes­ter­day said the CDC has now fin­ished the first draft of an or­ganic bill on t he Con­sti­tu­tional Court’s trial pro­ce­dures.

Un­der the bill, the court is made up of nine judges, re­flect­ing the cur­rent com­po­si­tion, with a seven-year term in of­fice, Mr Amorn said.

He said the court judges must meet new, stricter qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments stip­u­lated by the new con­sti­tu­tion.

Any of the ex­ist­ing court judges who are qual­i­fied un­der the new char­ter will stay on and those who are not must be re­moved from of­fice, Mr Amorn said, adding the CDC wants the qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments for mem­bers of in­de­pen­dent agen­cies to be stricter.

How­ever, when the bill is for­warded to the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly for de­lib­er­a­tion, the law­mak­ers still have the fi­nal say on how to amend it, the CDC spokesman said.

Mr Amorn said the CDC has ap­plied the so-called re­set prin­ci­ple to the bill on the Con­sti­tu­tional Court as in other or­ganic bills on other in­de­pen­dent agen­cies, such as the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and the Om­buds­man.

The “re­set” prin­ci­ple will re­sult in fresh se­lec­tions of some or all of the mem­bers of sev­eral in­de­pen­dent agen­cies to en­sure they are qual­i­fied un­der the new char­ter.

How­ever, some NLA mem­bers ar­gued the re­set ap­proach should not ap­ply to ev­ery in­de­pen­dent agency. It should be ap­plied only when nec­es­sary to avoid pos­si­ble reper­cus­sions on the work of those agen­cies in the fu­ture, they ar­gue.

The new con­sti­tu­tion stip­u­lates that the nine Con­sti­tu­tional Court judges are ap­pointed by His Majesty the King.

Of the nine judges, three are se­lected from a ple­nary meet­ing of the Supreme Court and they must be Supreme Court chief judges for at least three years.

An­other two are se­lected from a ple­nary meet­ing of the Supreme Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court and they must be Supreme Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court judges for at least five years.

An­other is se­lected from ex­perts in the field of law who are or used to be univer­sity pro­fes­sors for at least five years with an out­stand­ing aca­demic port­fo­lio.

An­other is se­lected from ex­perts in the field of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence who are or used to be univer­sity pro­fes­sors for at least five years with an out­stand­ing aca­demic port­fo­lio.

The other two are se­lected from serv­ing or re­tired civil ser­vants hold­ing the po­si­tion of at least depart­ment di­rec­tor­gen­eral or equiv­a­lent or hold­ing the po­si­tion of at least deputy at­tor­ney-gen­eral for at least five years, ac­cord­ing to the new con­sti­tu­tion.

When the or­ganic bill on the Con­sti­tu­tional Court be­comes l aw, at least five of the ex­ist­ing nine Con­sti­tu­tional Court judges will have to leave of­fice.

The five judges were sup­posed to have stepped down from of­fice in May this year when their nine-year term ex­pired, but Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha is­sued an or­der un­der the for­mer in­terim char­ter to al­low them to stay in of­fice un­til the or­ganic law on the court is en­acted.

But ob­servers noted that three of the other four ex­ist­ing Con­sti­tu­tional Court judges are likely to be lose their jobs as well since they are not qual­i­fied un­der the new con­sti­tu­tion.

“The CDC wants mem­bers of in­de­pen­dent agen­cies to have higher qual­i­fi­ca­tions. The Con­sti­tu­tional Court has an im­por­tant task to carry out and it must re­ceive recog­ni­tion,” Mr Amorn said.

He also said the CDC will con­sider the or­ganic bill on the Na­tional Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (NACC) this week. The CDC has also set up a panel of ex­perts to help it work on draw­ing up the bill.

Mr Amorn stressed that mem­bers of the anti-graft body must also meet the qual­i­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ments un­der the new con­sti­tu­tion.

In prin­ci­ple, the NACC un­der its new struc­ture must take a more proac­tive ap­proach to its work with­out the need to wait for oth­ers to file com­plaints with it, Mr Amorn added.

Chartchai Na Chi­ang Mai, an­other CDC spokesman, said that the CDC is ex­pected to be­gin con­sid­er­ing an or­ganic bill on the elec­tion of MPs and an or­ganic bill on the Se­nate, sec­tion by sec­tion, next month.

Mr Chartchai gave as­sur­ances the CDC will fin­ish all 10 or­ganic bills within a 240-day time­frame or be­fore Dec 4 this year.

The fi­nal bill to be sub­mit­ted to the NLA for de­lib­er­a­tion within the time­frame is the bill on the elec­tion of MPs, he said.

He ad­mit­ted the bill on the elec­tion of MPs and the bill on the Se­nate are dif­fi­cult to draw up. The Se­nate bill in par­tic­u­lar is a tough one as it will con­tain new pro­pos­als.

Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Wis­sanu Kre­angam yes­ter­day said the gov­ern­ment has now sub­mit­ted three or­ganic bills to the palace for royal en­dorse­ment.

Of them, the bill on the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion came into ef­fect on Wed­nes­day, while the bill on po­lit­i­cal par­ties and the bill on the trial pro­ce­dures for po­lit­icalof­fice hold­ers have not yet been re­turned to the gov­ern­ment.

‘‘ Those judges who are not qual­i­fied un­der the new char­ter must be re­moved from of­fice.

AMORN WANICHWIWATANA CDC SPOKESMAN

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