Petition drive to back bill push
The Pheu Thai Party is gathering signatures from parliamentarians backing the passage of the charter amendment bill through a third reading on Friday in defiance of the Constitution Court.
- Published: 5/06/2012 at 12:00 AM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Pheu Thai list MP Korkaew Pikulthong said the party will meet today and party and coalition members and senators will be asked to sign the petition.
The petition will back Pheu Thai's request for House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont to permit the third reading to go ahead on Friday.
If Mr Somsak agrees, the government will put the bill through its final reading despite the Constitution Court's order last week to halt the debating process.
The court order followed its admission of petitions arguing the bill may constitute an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.
Many government members insist it is the attorney-general, not the Constitution Court, who has the authority to admit petitions.
Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit said a meeting will take place today to explain the procedures of a third reading to members.
After the third reading concludes, the cabinet will be asked to issue a royal decree to close the current parliament session.
The House, however, has other vital bills pending consideration, including one on fighting money-laundering, which the government also wants debated before the session ends.
Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said defying the court's injunction will add to existing tensions.
"The government is the catalyst of the conflict we now face. If the lawmakers don't comply with the judges' order, havoc will result," he said.
While acknowledging the money-laundering bill was urgent, Mr Abhisit said keeping the House session open must come with assurances that the reconciliation bills will be off the agenda.
Opposition whip chief Jurin Laksanavisit, however, plans to ask the cabinet through Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra today to approve a royal decree to close the House session quickly.
A source at the Constitution Court said although the charter does not specify the punishment for defying court orders, any political party which moves to overthrow the country's rule faces dissolution.
The Nitirat group of legal experts yesterday said the parliament should not obey the Constitution Court's order as it would undermine the rule of law.
The group said the court had no legal authority to admit the petitions against the charter amendment.
The group explained Section 68 of the constitution _ which provides the basis for accepting the petitions _ states that anyone who becomes aware of acts to overthrow the constitutional monarchy may petition the attorney-general and the Constitution Court.
However, the group said the section describes the acts in question as having been committed by a person or a party.
The business of seeking charter amendments is the work of the parliament, which is not regarded as a person or political party and so does not fit the definitions in Section 68.
The court, therefore, should have dropped the petitions filed by Senator Somjet Boonthanom, Democrat MP Virat Kalayasiri and groups of individuals.
The Nitirat group added the petitions may be submitted only to the attorney-general who investigates the matter and then passes the petitions to the court.
"This requirement in Section 68 cannot be interpreted the way the Constitution Court did," the group said.
The court maintains the section offers two options of either putting the petitions to the attorney-general or to the court.
Nitirat also said the court does not have the power to issue an injunction to suspend the vetting of the amendment bill.
There is no stipulation in the constitution or an organic law that lets the court initiate a pre-trial procedure.
Mr Virat, meanwhile, said the anti-amendment petitions were submitted to both the attorney-general and the court.
The petitioners approached the Constitution Court because the court is authorised to issue an injunction as a matter of urgency.
Nitirat said the vetting suspension order is unconstitutional. As a result it has no binding effect on parliament, and politicians should ignore it.
If the parliament follows the order, the court will rise above all organisations and agencies, which would jeopardise the rule of law and democratic rule, the group said.
About the author
- Writer: Nattaya Chetchotiros & Aekarach Sattaburuth