Section 44 invoked to select new judges

Section 44 invoked to select new judges

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will exercise the powerful Section 44 under the interim charter to pave the way for the selection of new Constitutional Court judges and members of a committee linked to the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG), the website of the Royal Gazette announced yesterday.

Order 23/2017 aims to deal with concerns that the terms of some incumbent judges and committee members will end soon, before the law pertaining to them under the new constitution has been completed, it said.

The Constitutional Court and OAG are among the nation's key independent organisations. Bills concerning how they operate are now being drafted by the Meechai Ruchupan-led Constitution Drafting Committee.

The order, issued by Gen Prayut in his capacity as chief of the National Council for Peace and Order, intends to "solve possible problems of the continuity of work" in these two institutions, according to the report.

Section 44 gives the military government sweeping powers in administrative, legislative and judicial affairs. In this case, it is being used to ensure that preparations for the selection of the new judges and committee members proceed smoothly, the website said.

Under the order, Constitutional Court judges must be selected within 45 days. They must each be approved by a group of judges from either the Supreme Court or Administrative Court, as well as from the National Legislative Assembly, which will vote on their candidacy within 15 days.

The president of the court will be selected later by a panel of at least seven judges, all from the same court.

Experts in other areas including political science, public administration and the law must also be chosen within the same 45-day period if they are to join the new team of Constitutional Court judges, the order states.

A panel will be formed to select these experts.

Its members must include the presidents of the Supreme Court and the Administrative Court as well as the chairman of the NLA.

After the NLA has voted on the selections for the Constitutional Court judges and president it will forward the list of names to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement.

As for new members of the Auditor-General Committee, the order states says their selection process must be wrapped up within 60 days.

Like the judges, they will serve a single term of seven years.

The committee will nominate a new auditor-general for consideration by the NLA, which will then seek royal endorsement.

This is for a single term of six years, the order states.

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