SAC seeks ruling by charter court
Published on October 07, 2005 - Move attacked as bid to keep Jaruvan from assuming post
The Constitution Court will be asked to rule on whether Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka is still legally the auditor-general. The State Audit Commission yesterday decided to request a ruling, citing internal conflict at the department as its motivation.
Senators and civic groups were quick to attack the commission’s move, labelling it a tactic to buy time to and prevent Jaruvan from going back to work as auditor-general.
After yesterday’s meeting commission chairman Norchai Sripimol said the commission would take recourse in Article 266 of the Constitution, seeking the court’s ruling on Jaruvan’s legal status because debate still raged as to whether or not she had lost her position.
Although the court has already ruled the selection that resulted in her appointment as auditor-general unconstitutional, Jaruvan, some senators, MPs and civic groups still believe she remains the auditor-general because the court did not rule otherwise.
Caretaker auditor-general Jerarat Noppawong Na Ayutthaya said he believed the court’s earlier ruling was final and the ruling was legally binding for all agencies. However he is duty-bound to submit all documentation to the Constitution Court again in the wake of yesterday’s decision by the State Audit Commission.
Commissioner Kriengsak Watanawarangkoon expressed confidence his commission would find a way out of the impasse over the auditor-general’s position. He will submit the matter to the court within 15 days.
Commission General Somchai Virunhaphol said the commission would ask the court to rule on different aspects of the case compared with its previous ruling.
The Senate was split over the commission’s move. Senator Sak Korsaengruang said the Court could not accept the task because ruling on the matter could be a breach of royal power. “Since His Majesty the King did not endorse the nomination of Visut Montriwat as auditor-general, it means that Jaruvan is still the auditor-general,’’ he said.
Thai Rak Thai party-list MP Pramuan Ruchanaseree agreed with Sak, saying the State Audit Commission’s motive behind the move to seek a court ruling was to buy time until Jaruvan’s term is completed at the end of next year. He also warned the commission was challenging royal power in seeking the court ruling.
Senator Kaewsan Atibhodi criticised the move, saying the Constitution Court was not a legal consulting agency. “It will not rule on the same matter twice,” he said. He added that the Senate should be responsible and end the impasse - not the State Audit Commission or the Constitution Court.
Constitution Court judge Jumpol Na Songkhla said he personally believed the State Audit Commission had to decide on the auditor-general dispute alone. He dismissed the commission’s claims there had been conflict among state agencies over the matter.
Constitution Court judge Phan Jantraparn said he needed to see the commission’s file before deciding whether the court should rule on the matter.
Senator Panat Thasneeyanond said he believed the Senate was responsible for settling the auditor-general dispute. He said the court should not rule on the matter on the grounds there is conflict among agencies. “We have given the Constitution Court too much power. The country’s administration should not rest with only 15 judges,’’ he said. Senator Sunthorn Chinda-in and Senator Pratin Santiprabhob agreed with the commission’s decision, saying it was reasonable to let the court decide on Jaruvan’s status. They argued the court’s previous ruling that the selection process led to her appointment was unconstitutional left doubt as to whether she was to be removed from the post.
Meanwhile, Jaruvan yesterday denied submitting her resignation to the State Audit Commission. She said she had once submitted a letter to the commission stating her intention not to sign any document since related agencies were still debating on her status.
“The letter is not to show my intention to resign but to show spirit,’’ she said.
Bancha Khaengkhan, Budsarakham Sinlapalavan