On 10 November 2021, the Thai Constitutional Court read its ruling related to the speeches of Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, which were made during the Harry Potter themed rally on 3 August 2020, and a rally at Thammasat University on 10 August 2020. The Court was to rule whether the speeches constituted the using of rights or liberties in attempt to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as Head of State – a violation of Section 49 of the 2017 Constitution – or not, and if so, to order the defendants to cease related actions.
The Court denied the inquiry request from the respondent and academia, only examined evidence from government agencies
The proceedings and ruling took place without the inquiry, despite the respondent’ lawyers submitted inquiry request to allow the defendants and their witnesses to present more evidence and counter the complainant’s arguments. The witnesses include:
- Prof. Dr. Nidhi Eawsriwong: Issues related to the historical change from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in Thailand
- Special Prof. Dr. Chanwit Kasetsiri: Issues related to the political history of Thai coups
- Mr. Sulak Sivaraksa: Issues related the role of the Monarch in Thai politics
- Mr. Uthai Pimjaichon: Issues related to the intent of Section 49 of the 2017 Constitution (he was the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Assembly which drafted the 1997 Constitution, a model of Section 49 of the current Constitution).
- Dr. Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang: Issues related to the exercise of rights and liberties of the three defendants, which is not the exercise to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as Head of State, according to Section 49 of the 2017 Constitution, with comparison to such provision in the German Constitution.
However, the Court only examined the case based on the petition, the respondent’ document objecting the petition, and documents submitted by relevant government agencies at the request of the Court, including the Office of the Attorney General, Khlong Luang Police Station of Pathum Thani Province, the Royal Thai Police, the National Security Office, National Intelligence Agency, and Thammasat University. The Court later denied the request for the inquiry, citing that it had sufficient evidence to examine the case, and scheduled the reading of the ruling on 10 November 2021.
The ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and binding on all other government entities
The ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and binding on the Parliament, the Cabinet, Courts, and all other government entities, pursuant to Section 211, Paragraph 4, of the 2017 Constitution.
On 3 September, Mr. Nattapon Toprayoon, who had previously filed a petition for the dissolution of the Future Forward Party in 2019, filed a petition with the Constitutional Court to determine whether the speeches made in August 2020 by students, activists, and human rights lawyers – a total of eight people – constitute an attempt to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as Head of State or not. The eight include Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Parit Chiwarak, Juthathip Sirikan, Siripatchara Jungteerapanich, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Athitaya Pornprom. The Court later accepted the petition for three of them – Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok, and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.
The petition describes the speeches of the three defendants as follows:
Anon Nampa gave a speech at the Democracy Monument, on 3 August 2020, about the expansion of royal powers through the amendment of the 2017 Constitution, the enactment of the Budgetary Procedure Act, and the reform of the monarchy. He also delivered a speech at Thammasat University on 10 August 2020 regarding the intimidation and harassment against the people by the government, therefore he spoke publicly and principally about the expansion of royal powers. He pledged to stand together with the people who came out to stand up against the issues related to the royal institution.
Speaking at Thammasat University on 10 August 2020, Panupong Jadnok reaffirmed that expressing opinions on the monarchy is legitimate and talked about the history of the absolute monarchy system of Thailand as well as the role of the monarchy in Thai society today.
Meanwhile, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul gave a speech at Thammasat University, presenting the ten-point manifesto of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration. The manifesto calls for the reform of the royal institution to be appropriate for Thai society, including the abolition of Section 112 (lèse-majesté) of the Criminal Code, the reduction of state budget for the royal institution in line with the country’s economic situation, and the investigation of murders of citizens who criticised the royal institution.
Chronology of the events related to the case
3 September 2020: Nattapon Toprayoon filed the petition to the Constitutional Court, pursuant to Article 49 of the 2017 Constitution.
13 September 2020: Panusaya received a copy of the petition and notification to provide clarifications objecting the allegations.
2 November 2020: Anon, Panupong, and Panusaya have their lawyers submitting clarifications to the allegations, a request to submit a list of witnesses, the list of witnesses, and a request for the court to conduct an inquiry.
4 November 2020: The Constitutional Court notified the lawyer of the three respondents that it has accepted the clarifications to the allegations, together with the list of witnesses, while the request for an inquiry was pending its considerations.
27 September 2021: The Constitutional Court notified the lawyer of the three defendants that it has scheduled the reading of the ruling to be on 10 November 2021.
1 October 2021: The Constitutional Court notified the lawyer of the three defendants that the Court has considered the request of 2 November 2020, requesting the Court to conduct an inquiry, but found no ground to approve the request.