EC declares power to send Pita’s case to charter court, but defers decision to Wednesday

TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2023

The Election Commission (EC) said it has the power to send the alleged media shareholding case against PM-hopeful Pita Limjaroenrat to the Constitutional Court, but is deferring it for now.

EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong said on Tuesday that though the EC has the power to send the case to court, it needs more time to study the case before making a final decision.

He added that the EC had received a report on Pita from its fact-finding panel on Tuesday and resolved that it requires time to study the report for prudence. Hence, he said, the commission will hold another meeting on Wednesday to deliberate the report.

Political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana filed a complaint against Pita with the EC, claiming the Move Forward leader is not eligible to run for an election because he holds 42,000 shares in iTV Plc. Though the media firm closed in 2007, Ruangkrai insists iTV is still an active media firm.

Pita, meanwhile, said he was holding the shares as an executor of his father’s estate.

Earlier, the EC had announced that it has endorsed Pita as an election candidate, and would instead form a fact-finding panel to see if Pita has violated Article 151 of the Election Act by contesting despite knowing he was not qualified.

This announcement prompted legal experts, including outgoing Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam, to say the case should be tried in the Criminal Court, not Constitutional Court.

More confusion was added to the subject a few days ago when some media quoted sources from the fact-finding panel as saying that the panel will ask the EC to send the case to Constitutional Court.

Following these rumours, Pita wrote to the EC saying that since he was being probed under Article 151, which is a criminal case procedure, the EC should have formally charged him and let him defend himself before sending the case to court.

However, Ittiporn explained on Tuesday that the investigation is being conducted under Article 82 of the Constitution, not under criminal law.

He added that Article 82 empowers the EC to send a case to Constitutional Court if it believes an MP’s status is in question for certain reasons.

Ittiporn said the EC will send a formal letter to Pita informing him of its decision.