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Academics: Ombudsman case has no standing
[November 21, 2012]

Academics: Ombudsman case has no standing

Nov 22, 2012 (Bangkok Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Academics say the Office of the Ombudsman was barking up the wrong tree when it petitioned a court to void the Oct 16 third-generation (3G) licence auction and halt the licensing process.

Sudharma Yoonaidharma, dean of the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce's law faculty, told a forum yesterday that the office's petition for the court to revoke the 3G information memorandum published in the Royal Gazette would not affect the case.

Moreover, the ombudsman has no authority to seek a court injunction to halt the licensing until the court has an order because it filed petition to the NBTC office, not the NBTC's telecommunications committee, which held the auction.

"In my view, the licensing has to move forward immediately as stipulated in the memorandum," Mr Sudharma said.

Following outcries that the bids were too low, the Office of the Ombudsman petitioned the court for an inquiry into the auction and the court questioned the NBTC's telecom committee last week.

Mr Sudharma said the regulation did not say that the NBTC had to freeze the licensing process pending court approval or the reduction of price tariffs.

Therefore, the winners could sue the NBTC if it fails to issue 3G licences by mid-January as the terms of the auction require the regulator to issue the licences within 90 days after it approved the results.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a lecturer at Thammasat University's law faculty, agreed with Mr Sudharma that the ombudsman has no mandate to petition the court.

Previously, the court rejected petitions against the 3G auction filed by six people.

A group of senators made a joint petition last month to the ombudsman against the telecom committee's approval of the outcome of 2.1-gigahertz spectrum auction, claiming that only the NBTC board had the authority to approve the results.

However, the ombudsman declined to consider the case, saying it was beyond its purview to probe the committee's authority.

The NBTC's telecom committee also set up a panel of its own to investigate whether there was collusion among the three winners.

NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit said the telecommunications committee would press ahead and grant the licences to the winners if the court issues no order to halt the licensing and the commission's panel did not find evidence of collusion.

All nine five-megahertz slots sold for a combined value of 41.6 billion baht, with a minimum bid of 4.5 billion baht for each slot.

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