Top court set to rule on charter rejig
The Constitutional Court is set to rule on March 11 whether parliament has the power to open the way for a rewrite of the charter in its entirety.
If the court decides parliament possesses no such power, the motion to amend Section 256 in the constitution, which has passed scrutiny during the second reading, is unlikely to make it to the third and final reading when MPs and senators are due to vote whether to pass it or not.
The Office of the Constitutional Court released a news bulletin yesterday announcing the court will pass the ruling on March 11 ahead of the third-reading vote scheduled for March 17.
The court is acting on a petition jointly raised by Senator Somchai Sawaengkan and Palang Pracharath Party MP Paiboon Nititawan.
The lawmakers have asked the court to clear doubts over parliament's ability to proceed in adopting the Section 256 amendment that would ultimately lead to a rewrite of the entire charter.
Section 256 says charter changes require the support of at least one-third of the Senate, or 84 senators. The section also stipulates that a referendum is required if an amendment involves the charter, chapters on general principles and the monarchy.
Some critics fear an amendment to the section would lead to parliament being handed a "blank cheque" to rewrite the whole charter.
Isranews Agency has reported the court has sought consultation with four prominent legal experts -- Meechai Ruchupan, Borwornsak Uwanno, Somkid Lertpaithoon and Udom Ratamarit.
Mr Borwornsak and Mr Udom maintained that parliament reserves the power to see to the rectification of the charter with the referendum able to be arranged after the amendment business is over and done with.
Meanwhile, Somkid Chuekong, Ubon Ratchathani MP of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said some senators, who have vowed to vote against the motion in the third reading, were really interested in hanging on to power. The senators claimed the proposed amendment was seeking to curb the authority of the king, which was the reason for their resistance to any charter changes. Mr Somkid said there was no substance to the claim.