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Requirement removing unqualified office-holders is Constitutional: Ombudsman

Jan 12. 2018
 Rakkecha Saechai
Rakkecha Saechai
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By The Nation

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The Ombudsman on Friday decided against taking up a petition filed by Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn in hopes it would be forwarded to the Constitutional Court. The Ombudsman reasoned that the issue in dispute is not unconstitutional as claimed in the petition.

Ombudsman secretary-general Rakkecha Saechai said the Ombudsman held a meeting to consider the matter and resolved to dismiss the case.

Rakkecha said Somchai had filed the petition asking that the Ombudsman examine whether Article 70 under the EC law is unconstitutional.

By law, the Ombudsman is one of the agencies able to receive complaints in regard to the constitutionality of issues of concern and decide whether to forward them to the Constitutional Court along with its opinions.

Under Article 70, EC commissioners and its president have to leave office after the new EC law is promulgated. The five EC commissioners including Somchai have now left the office as a result.

Somchai argued that the stipulation may contradict the charter as it requires that members of independent bodies would have to leave office if their qualifications do not meet the requirements as outlined in the charter.

However, Rakkecha cited the previous Constitutional Court’s ruling on the qualifications and terms for the office of the Ombudsmen.

It had ruled, citing Article 273 paragraph 1, that members of independent bodies may stay in office after the new charter is promulgated but once the organic laws are in place, their terms must follow what had been proclaimed in the organic laws.

The Ombudsman viewed that this meant that the charter gives power to the legislative body to determine the terms of the members of independent bodies in various ways, including the total reset the EC faced.

Thus, what was addressed under the EC law’s Article 70 is not unconstitutional, the Ombudsman decided and dismissed Somchai’s petition.

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