Court overhaul bill gets nod in first NLA reading

politics September 30, 2017 01:00


THE NATIONAL Legislative Assembly (NLA) has endorsed in principle in its first reading an organic bill on the Constitutional Court’s legal procedures that would empower it with better “working mechanisms”.

In addition, the court’s current judges would not be totally reset, but would rather depend on their qualifications as required by the charter.

The new charter gives the court the power to rule on the constitutionality of laws or draft laws. 

It could also rule on issues relating to powers of members of the Lower House, Senate, Parliament, Cabinet, as well as members of independent agencies.

Meechai Ruchupan, head of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), said the panel had drafted the bill with the aim to improve the efficiency of the Constitutional Court with new mechanisms.

The court could at least take action against those who caused trouble for trials.

Those who violate the rule in court would be considered guilty of contempt of court and could be punished by a jail term of up to one month and/or a fine of up to Bt50,000. 

They could be cautioned or be ushered out of the court premises before the court resorted to |those punishments, according to the bill.

Like most organic laws, judges who do not meet the new qualifications set by the new Constitution would be dismissed. Those who do could stay until their terms are finished. 

The judges are under the same standards as other independent agencies’ commissioners, Meechai said, and could complete their terms unless disqualified by the new Constitution. 

Only members of the National Human Rights Commission would be dismissed regardless of their qualifications due to its position in the international stage, Meechai explained.

The organic bill stipulates that the Constitutional Court’s judicial panel should have nine members.

The NLA passed the bill unanimously, 198-0 in its first reading. 

A committee of 22 members has been set up to review the draft before entering the second reading within 50 days.


Judicial panel composition proposed in organic bill 

THREE ARE head judges from the Supreme Court, who have been in office for no less than three years and are selected by the judges at a general meeting of the Supreme Court.

Two judges are from the Supreme Administrative Court, who have been in office for no less than five years and are selected by judges at the general meeting of the Supreme Administrative Court.

One legal expert, who has been a professor of law at a Thai university for at least five years and has empirical academic works.

One political science/public administration expert, who has been a professor in those fields at a Thai university for at least five years and has empirical academic works.

Two specialists, who have served in the government sector as the director of a department or a higher position, or as deputy attorney-general or a higher position for at least five years.