In a recent post, PPT showed how the Constitutional Court’s decision to intervene in the political process by “checking” on the “constitutionality” of proposed processes for considering constitutional amendments was simply a political decision that had no basis in constitution or law. To date, PPT has not seen any argument that would contradict this view.
That said, the Constitutional Court has tried to explain its arguably unlawful actions as somehow lawful, so it is worth briefly dealing with the latest of these rather feeble explanations.
At the Bangkok Post, we see that the Court “is insisting it has the authority to accept petitions against the charter amendment bill and order parliament to suspend the third reading of the legislation.” It can insist all it wants, but what is important is the legal basis for such insistence.
According to the Post, “Court spokesman Pimol Thammapithakpong cited sections 69 and 70 of the constitution to support the court’s acceptance of the petitions for examination, in addition to Section 68 of the charter which provides the basis for accepting the petitions.”
PPT has already dealt with Article 68 in our earlier post, and readers may also find Bangkok Pundit of interest. There is no basis in Article 68 for the Court’s current actions. That the Court spokesperson invokes Articles 69 and 70 suggests considerable desperation. These articles state:
[Article] 69. A person shall have the right to resist peacefully an act committed for the acquisition of the power to rule the country by a means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.
[Article] 70. Every person shall have a duty to uphold the nation, religions, the King and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution.
How should we read the Court’s resort to these articles? PPT sees nothing more than an admission that Article 68 has been misused and that it must rely on general statements of a duty and right to justify its actions. In other words, the Court is again admitting that it has intervened for political reasons.
The Court spokesperson then does the necessary slippery legal gymnastics to make a revised claim for the Court. He says the:
court judges had concluded based on the three sections that anyone knowing of any acts as stated in Section 68 can submit a petition to the attorney-general, which will investigate the matter and pass it to the court, or file a petition directly with the court.
As PPT has shown earlier, Article 68 is not saying this. In addition, as Bangkok Pundit shows, the Constitutional Court’s own website is clear. We cut-and-paste from Pundit:
From the Constitution Court Web site (PDF):
BP: The left-hand column is for “issue”, and the issue here is the “Consideration of decisions concerning persons or political parties who use their rights and liberties in a political sense in contravention of the Constitution (Sections 68 and 237).”
The middle column is ‘who has the right to file the motion’ and the listed answer is “Attorney-General” only.
The right-hand column is “process and conditions” the person knowing of such act shall have the right to request the Attorney General to investigate the facts and submit a motion to the Constitutional Court for ordering cessation of such act or dissolving that political party” [it continues and talks about removing the political rights of executives of that political party etc] .
Tellingly, Court president Wasan Soypisudh has had to state: “The Constitution Court is not a political tool of anyone…”. PPT could mount a long contradiction of this, showing that the Court has repeatedly shown that it is biased and corrupt, but that is unnecessary given the length of our previous post.
In addition, we have no doubt that the Court would not be making such an intervention that has no legal basis without having received a very specific prod, probably from a higher authority.
At The Nation, Wasan is cited as stating that what was at issue was “not the vote or other legislative work but the alleged conspiracy to overthrow the political system as sanctioned by the Constitution.” Again, Wasan is clear: the Constitutional Court is politically biased and a tool of the royalist elite.