Court: Varathep can keep his job
PM's Office Minister Varathep Ratanakorn yesterday heaved a sigh of relief after the Constitution Court ruled he could keep his job.By a majority decision of 6-3, the high court said Varathep's appointment to the Cabinet was constitutional.
A group of senators led by Prasarn Marukpitak had petitioned for the judicial review of Varathep's job qualifications.
The petitioners argued that Varathep could be subject to disqualification as he was sentenced to a suspended prison term in 2009.
Under the Constitution, a convict must wait five years after imprisonment before qualifying for a political appointment.
Varathep was appointed last year, two years short of the required period.
The high court opined that the provision on the time lapse was meant for those who actually served a jail term, whereas Varathep's sentence was suspended.
Reacting to the favourable verdict, Varathep said he was grateful for the chance to continue his public service.
"I thank the high court for its constitutional interpretation and also thank the prime minister for picking me for the job three months previously," he said.
He said his suspended sentence in connection with the two- and three-digit lottery case was the outcome of an administrative dispute that did not involve graft violations.