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Charter Amendment

Pressure mounts on court as govt pushes charter change

THE PUSH for amending additional charter provisions should be completed within the current legislative session, Science Minister Peerapan Palusuk said yesterday.

The government plans to amend provisions further related to the overthrow of the political system, the framework for international treaties, and party dissolution.

Peerapan expected the push to follow on the heels of Saturday's passage of the charter-change bill on filling senatorial seats.

"In my personal opinion, I think it is time to cast the final vote on the bill to overhaul the entire Constitution," he said.

Commenting on the opposition's litigation to derail the change, he said he suspected the Constitutional Court had overextended its power over the legislature.

He said he wanted to dissolve the charter court, which should be part of the Supreme Court.

Coalition chief whip Amnuay Klangpha said two of three proposed charter amendments had already been vetted and put on the parliamentary agenda for voting.

The two are Article 68 on overthrowing the political system, and Article 190 on international agreements.

Article 237 on party dissolution is being vetted and should be ready for a vote next month.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana said the charter procedures for change were clear and the opposition had no justification for litigation on the matter.

Under the prescribed procedures, the prime minister would have to seek royal approval for the charter change bill within 20 days, he said.

He questioned why the opposition was citing the legislative process for an Act of Parliament to supersede the charter change.

He said the charter court had no jurisdiction to rule on the passage of constitutional amendments.

Charter change is under the legislature's jurisdiction and the judiciary should not try to usurp the power vested in the legislative and executive branches, he said.

Democrat MP Nipit Intarasombat said he saw no justification for the prime minister's rush for royal approval on charter change before the judicial ruling.

"All neutral opinion-makers agree it is inappropriate to rush royal approval," he said.

A group of four senators, led by Rosana Tositrakul, petitioned for the charter court to issue an injunction against seeking royal approval until the completion of the judicial review on charter change.

The petition was submitted via Parliament President Somsak Kiartsuranont and Senate Speaker Nikom Wairatpanij.

The Constitutional Court yesterday announced that it would combine and consider together four petitions against the charter amendment related to senators, which were submitted by MPs and senators.


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