The Constitution Court yesterday insisted it has the power to consider the petitions against the government's charter amendment bill regardless of the state attorney's decision.
Red-shirt supporters collected 20,000 signatures on a petition to impeach the seen Constitution Court judges, then called off their rally in front of parliament. (Reuters photo)
In its statement, the court said the prosecutors have done their duty which by no means affects its authority.
The statement also stressed that the prosecutors' decision indicates the complainants can directly lodge petitions with the Constitution Court under Section 68 which prevents attempts by "persons or political parties" to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.
The court was responding to the Office of the Attorney-General, which also received copies of the petitions, but on Thursday decided against submitting them to the Constitution Court.
The state prosecutors ruled that the government's move to rewrite the constitution was within its authority and that there was no evidence of an intention to use the bill to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.
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According to the court's statement, the prosecutors' move is also in line with the charter.
"It states clearly that the rights to protect the charter belong to all Thais. So the power [to consider petitions] does not exclusively rest with the attorney-general," the statement said.
"The prosecution's job has nothing to do with the court's power and can't override its power to accept a petition for consideration."
Meanwhile, ruling Pheu Thai MPs slammed the court's decision in a joint House-Senate sitting yesterday. There was no vote on the court's decision yesterday but the session will continue on Tuesday.
Anticipation was high that government MPs would defy the Constitution Court's order and lobby for a vote after the state attorney resolved the charter rewrite bid was legal.
At 6.30pm, parliament president Somsak Kiatsuranont decided to postpone the meeting until Tuesday after hours of debate when some Pheu Thai Party MPs insisted that a vote be called over the Constitution Court's suspension order.
Pheu Thai MP Samart Kaewmeechai led the call for the joint sitting to cast a vote on the court order.
"The issue can't just be acknowledged," Mr Samart said. "I want it to be clear and a precedent set. We should consider if the court's order is in line with Section 216.
Pheu Thai-list MP Wattana Muangsook urged the chamber to move ahead with the third reading of the charter amendment bill.
"The Constitution Court has overstepped its authority," he said.
Pheu Thai's Chalerm Yubamrung spent more than an hour lashing out at the Constitution Court for what he said was bypassing procedural steps.
He also urged the court to dismiss the petitions.
"What is your [the court's] authority to order the parliament, which is one of the three highest powers in the country, to delay its duty even though you have not scrutinised the case," he said in the debate.
Mr Chalerm said Section 291/11 of the proposed charter amendment legislation states that any changes to the country's constitutional monarchy regime are prohibited.
Pheu Thai MP and red shirt leader Korkaew Pikulthong yesterday urged the Constitution Court to back down or face budget cuts.
He said that he was not "negotiating or bullying" the court.
"We are responding using all possible means because the court has seriously violated democratic principles. It has meddled with the separation of powers," he said.
In defence of the Constitution Court, Democrat MP Wirat Kallayasiri, who lodged a petition against the charter bill with the prosecution and the court, said there had been no intervention in legislative powers.
He said that he has been assured by dozens of 2007 charter writers that the petitions can be submitted directly to the court.
"It is impossible that the rights to protect the charter are exclusively exercised by the attorney-general," he said.
Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva insisted yesterday no attempt should be made to push for a third reading of the charter amendment bill.
He also criticised the prosecutors for not doing their job soon enough.
"The prosecutors received the petitions months ago but proceeded very slowly. And this is how they handled it," he said.
Meanwhile, the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship yesterday called off its rally outside parliament against seven Constitution Court judges, saying they had collected 20,000 signatures of people to back the impeachment.
The list of 20,000 people was handed over to the Senate speaker to initiate impeachment proceedings. The list was accepted by deputy Senate speaker Porntip Lohveera.
Pheu Thai MP Weng Tojirakarn said he would like the Senate to proceed with the impeachment bid before July 7 - the day the Constitution Court is scheduled to consider the petition.
He also called on the seven judges to step down to demonstrate responsibility, but not before revoking the suspension order.
About 800 supporters of the Siam Samakkhi and multi-coloured groups gathered at Lumpini Park yesterday to show their support for the Constitution Court judges.
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