Panel seeks charter court's end
House study wants to curb judicial 'meddling'
published : 8 Jan 2013 at 00:00
newspaper section: News
The Constitution Court and the Supreme Court's Criminal Section for Holders of Political Positions, should be dissolved, says a House sub-committee looking into charter amendments.
The sub-committee made the recommendation yesterday after wrapping up a study of proposed charter changes.
Sophon Phetsawang, the panel's chair, said the committee was proposing the abolition of the two judicial bodies because of concerns over the judiciary's alleged interference in politics.
He said the charter court should be replaced with a constitution tribunal to be elected by parliament, while cases handled by the Supreme Court's Criminal Section for Holders of Political Positions should be considered by a court of justice.
"The tribunal should rule on constitutionality only, and not be authorised to consider the dissolution of political parties.
"The Constitution Court currently has too much power and is considered to meddle with politics," he said.
Mr Sophon said abolition of the Supreme Court's Criminal Section for Holders of Political Positions is necessary because the whole idea behind it is flawed.
"We are the only country with such a court. It is not fair [that] defendants can't appeal when they lose," he said.
Mr Sophon said the sub-committee had also proposed abolishing the Office of the Ombudsman and the election of senators, as well as reducing the National Anti-Corruption Commission's (NACC) power.
He said the agency's ability to directly file a lawsuit with a court would be revoked. Instead, the NACC would only be required to send cases to the Office of Attorney General.
He said the study also calls for a change to Section 309 to prevent future coups. However, it would not revoke any cases initiated by the coup-appointed Asset Scrutiny Committee.
"It is not intended to whitewash the ousted prime minister. It needs to be altered to prevent a coup," he said.
He denied the proposals were designed to curb the powers of independent public agencies in favour of politicians.
"Power belongs to the people who exercise it through parliament. If power is abused, they [MPs] won't be elected," he said.
He added that the study will be forwarded to a legal reform committee chaired by Prasop Busarakham for consideration before going to House speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont.
The results of the panel's study bore some similarities with proposals floated by Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung at a Pheu Thai Party meeting on Sunday. Mr Chalerm proposed revising 81 sections covering nine issues largely dealing with independent public agencies.
Under his proposals, the Supreme Court's Criminal Section for Holders of Political Positions and the Office of the Ombudsman would be dissolved while the Constitution Court and the Administrative Court would come under the Supreme Court instead of being independent public entities.
He called for the NACC and the Election Commission to be elected by parliament and _ unlike the House study _ ending the appointment of senators.
Mr Chalerm also proposed amending Section 190 to free the cabinet from seeking parliament approval on international treaties and agreements, and to change Section 237 to prevent the dissolution of political parties.
Court of Justice spokesman Sitthisak Wanachakij yesterday said Mr Chalerm's proposals regarding the two courts was just a political initiative.
Mr Sitthisak said the Court of Justice has set up a committee to follow up on the charter amendment process and review its roles outlined in the 2007 charter.
According to Mr Sitthisak, some roles, such as selecting members of independent agencies, may need to be reassessed to ensure the court's transparency and independence.
"We will keep monitoring charter amendments that involve the Court of Justice before deciding to make further suggestions," he said.