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SATURDAY, December 03, 2022
All five cases in which Constitutional Court spared Prayut

All five cases in which Constitutional Court spared Prayut

SATURDAY, October 01, 2022

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has survived all the five cases filed against him at the charter court with the apparent goal of getting him removed from office.

The first case came in August 2019, just one month after Prayut and his Cabinet were sworn in before His Majesty the King.


Oath-taking case

Ramkhamhaeng University student Panupong Churak lodged his petition through the Office of the Ombudsman, arguing that the oath Prayut recited was incomplete. This, the accuser claimed, should invalidate the Cabinet's formation and implementation of its policy statement.

When leading the swearing-in ceremony before the King, Prayut failed to recite the final sentence of the compulsory oath: “I will also uphold and observe the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in every respect.”

Due to this omission, opposition politicians and political activists questioned the validity of his premiership.

All five cases in which Constitutional Court spared Prayut

In September 2019, the Constitutional Court rejected the petition on grounds that it was "not authorised" to make a ruling on the oath-taking ceremony.

In a unanimous judgement, the court said the oath-taking concerns an action that reflects a “specific relationship” between the Cabinet and the King and can be considered a political issue under an act of government.


Case on prohibited status

A petition was filed by 110 opposition MPs from seven political parties in June 2019 asking the Constitutional Court to rule whether Prayut is prohibited from holding a Cabinet position under the charter.

The accusers contended that Prayut’s status as PM should end because he was also serving as head of the junta National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) at the time of his appointment. For them, the position should have been regarded as “other official of the state”, a prohibited status for any Cabinet member.

In September 2019, the Constitutional Court ruled that the NCPO chief was not an “other official”, clearing the way for Prayut to stay on as head of the government.


Military residence case

In November 2020, MP Prasert Chantararuangthong, in his capacity as secretary-general of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, filed a petition with the court through the House speaker, asking whether Prayut violated the Constitution by living in his military residence.

Prasert cited Articles 184 and 186 of the Constitution, which prohibits government ministers from receiving any special benefits from a government agency. The accuser said Prayut had lived in his military residence at no cost even though he he had retired as Army general.

All five cases in which Constitutional Court spared Prayut

In December 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that Prayut did not violate the charter clause in question, as his stay at the military residence was in line with a 2005 regulation of the Royal Thai Army, which lets Army chiefs stay on base after they retire if they continue serving the country.


Green Line interference

In April 2019, 72 opposition MPs petitioned the Constitutional Court, accusing Prayut of violating the charter by issuing an executive order to extend the concession period of the Green Line mass transit project to 40 years, even though the existing concessionaire only had 10 years left.

The accusers asked the court to remove Prayut from office for “interfering or intervening in the acquisition of any concession from the state”, a prohibition stated for any government minister.

Prayut had issued the order in April 2019 while he was serving as NCPO head.

All five cases in which Constitutional Court spared Prayut

In July 2021, the Constitutional Court dismissed the petition, saying the constitutional provisions on the termination of ministerial status only covered people holding the position of minister at the time. Prayut was also not subject to disqualification because the court said he had vacated his prime minister’s seat in the 2019 general election.


Eight-year tenure case

In the latest case against Prayut, the Constitutional Court ruled by a 6:3 majority on September 30 that his eight-year term in office did not expire on August 24 this year.

The verdict said the prime minister’s tenure should be counted from April 6, 2017, when the current Constitution was promulgated. His previous leadership did not apply under this charter, the court ruled.

On August 24, the opposition petitioned the court, asking if Prayut had completed his eight-year tenure. The petition cited the fact that he had served as PM since August 24, 2014, three months after he led a military coup to oust an elected government.