Accused MPs not off the hook yet, high court declares
The 416 Cabinet members, MPs and senators who voted in support of the charter amendment bill must now file individual rebuttals to justify their votes, Constitution Court spokesman Somrit Chaiwong said yesterday.Somrit reminded them that even though the high court ruled the bill constitutional on Friday, the accused are facing charges raised in a separate case.
Last week the 416 applied for a 30-day extension to submit their defence in the hope the outcome of Friday's ruling might help end their legal trouble.
But Somrit said the judicial review would proceed as the two cases had no bearing on each other.
People's Alliance for Democracy leader Chamlong Srimuang is the complainant accusing the 416 of conspiring to topple democratic rule or grab power by unconstitutional means.
The high court has yet to schedule a date to convene and review the case.
In a related development, Election Commission member Sodsri Satayathum said the commission was ready to organise a referendum on charter change if deemed necessary.
The high court should clarify whether the referendum should take place before the charter drafting or after or both, Sodsri said.
She said the court spokesman was not in a position to interpret the verdict.
"The high court should amend its decision, otherwise legal issues related to the referendum would not get resolved," she said in reference to the opportunity for the necessary clarification before the publication of the verdict in the Royal Gazette.
She said each referendum would cost about Bt2.4 billion and require four months to complete.
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit said his ruling party would today convene a meeting to decide on options for the charter amendment bill.
In the first option, the bill may proceed to its final passage, he said. Or in the second option, the bill will be put on hold pending the referendum vote.
The third option is for the charter change to be limited to amending certain provisions, falling short of writing a new charter, he said, adding the party might also consider other alternatives.
He dismissed the Democrat Party's demand for the exit of the government, arguing the push for charter change was constitutional as per the judicial decision and in line with the campaign pledge.
Pheu Thai MP Kokaew Pikulthong said in his opinion, the party should push for final passage of the bill instead of holding the pre-drafting referendum.
Kokaew said the party had 15 million votes to back up its decision. He conceded, however, he was uncertain whether the party would go along with his idea.