Panel to study verdict on charter change

national August 03, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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The coalition committee considering the constitution amendment verdict will focus on the underlying contentious issue - whether Parliament can vote on the third reading of the bill without triggering a new round of court battles on charter change.

Two legal advisers to the ruling Pheu Thai Party, Chusak Sirinil and Bhokin Bhalakula, on Matichon Online, drew the conclusion that the coalition must plot its next move in drafting a brand new charter. The alternative of amending the current version article by article would be impractical, and take too much time.

As the panel is scheduled to hold its first meeting next week, Chusak yesterday outlined his thoughts on charter change.
The key to cracking the legislative stalemate was to thoroughly study the verdict and individual opinions of the Constitution Court justices, he said.
Of the eight justices, four said the high court had no jurisdiction to rule on how Parliament should go about amending the charter as per Article 291 of the Constitution. The other four interpreted this very same provision as favouring judicial intervention in the rewriting process, he said.
The first opinion concurred with that of the Office of the Attorney-General, he said.
The judges were split right down the middle, so the verdict was unclear. Although the court decided that the bill was constitutional, it made an unprecedented suggestion for a referendum to be held if the charter is overhauled in its entirety, he said.
The panel had to read between the lines of the verdict, otherwise the legal wrangling would likely escalate if Parliament hastily pushed for passage of the bill, he said.
The panel would likely spend one to two months to decide on the next move for charter change, but eventually the Constitution Drafting Assembly would be formed to kick-start the charter revamp, he added.
Bhokin said the panel would probably come up with a solution designed to ease the conflict and foster public understanding on charter change.
All sides were floating so many ideas and the panel had to find the most practical way to amend the charter, he said.
One of the critical issues was how to proceed with the third reading of the bill, he said.

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