Court accepts amendment challenges

Court accepts amendment challenges

Opponents claim bill violates constitution

The Constitution Court yesterday accepted two separate petitions filed against the charter amendment bill for consideration.

The petitions were filed by Senator Somjate Boonthanom and Democrat Party MP for Songkhla Wirat Kalayasiri.

They asked the Constitution Court to rule whether the government's charter amendment bill seeking to alter the composition of the Senate violates Section 68 of the constitution, and to suspend its third and final reading which is scheduled for Saturday.

They believe the bill, which allows for the election of all 200 senators, does violate Section 68, which deals with acts that could undermine the constitutional monarchy or potentially lead to the seizure of power through unconstitutional means.

The judges on the court bench yesterday voted 5 to 2 to accept their petitions, although the judges rejected their requests for a court injunction suspending the bill's third reading.

Meanwhile, the Constitution Court yesterday also accepted for consideration a petition filed by a group of MPs and senators asking that it hand down a ruling on the constitutionality of the 2014 Budget Bill.

The petition was filed by 112 lawmakers led by appointed senator Paiboon Nititawan and Mr Wirat.

The legislators asked the court to rule if Section 27 and Section 28 of the budget bill contravene the charter.

Section 27 relates to budget allocations for the Office of the Judiciary and the Office of the Administrative Court while Section 28 deals with budget allocations to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

According to the petition, the agencies under sections 27 and 28 each proposed an allocation from the 2014 budget to the cabinet, but the cabinet slashed the amounts they put forward.

When the budget bill reached the budget scrutiny committee in parliament, these agencies asked the committee to increase the allocations to ensure they were adequate for their operations.

But the committee did not invite them to give information and ignored their requests.

The budget bill has already been passed by parliament and is awaiting royal endorsement to become law.

The cabinet decided to delay submitting the bill to His Majesty the King for royal endorsement until complaints questioning its constitutionality have been investigated.

The Democrat Party's legal team yesterday also submitted to the charter court a video clip of a government MP allegedly logging in to vote on behalf of absent lawmakers during recent joint parliamentary sessions on charter change.

Democrat Party list-MP Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, who accompanied the legal team, claimed the video clip showed a Pheu Thai MP inserting electronic ID cards of other MPs and senators into a machine used for voting during the joint parliamentary sessions on Sept 10-11, which debated the charter amendment bill seeking to change the make-up of the Senate.

That violated sections 122 and 126 of the constitution, Mr Pirapan said.

Chief government whip Amnuay Khlangpha yesterday insisted government lawmakers will proceed with a vote on the third and final reading of the charter change bill on Saturday as the court has not ruled to suspend it.

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