Jatuporn’s election to the House of Representatives was initially certified by theElection Commission. Upon further review, however, months later the same bodyrecommended to the Constitutional Court that Jatuporn be disqualified. The Courtin turn approved the Election Commission’s recommendation, disqualifyingJatuporn from parliament in a 7-1 ruling issued on May 18, 2012.
The ruling was based on a legal technicality, and ignored the obvious conflict between the statutethe Court relied upon, the Organic Act on Political Parties, and several provisions of the 2007 Constitution. In a nutshell, while the Constitution stipulates that onlyprisoners convicted of a criminal offense, and not defendants awaiting trial, lack thequalification to serve in parliament, the Court found that Jatuporn’s detention onelection day terminated his membership in a political party, and thereby caused himto lose a required qualification to be elected to parliament.On the day theConstitutional Court disqualified Jatuporn from office, the opposition DemocratParty announced plans to file briefings seeking Pheu Thai’s dissolution under Article237 of the Constitution, on the grounds that Jatuporn should never have beenincluded in the party’s list of candidates for the 2011 elections.
The case that could potentially lead to the dissolution of Pheu Thai in connectionwith Jatuporn’s disqualification is still months away from reaching theConstitutional Court. It is perhaps as a result that the Constitutional Court, facedwith the necessity of blocking the enactment of a central plank of Pheu Thai’scampaign platform, had to resort to issuing an injunction prohibiting the parliamentfrom continuing deliberation on amendments of the Constitution, even at the costof reaching far beyond its constitutional authority. Ominously, the ConstitutionalCourt announced its decision to review, under Article 68 of the Constitution,whether the proposed constitutional amendments constitute an attempt by PheuThai and its coalition partners “to overthrow the democratic regime of governmentwith the King as Head of State.” Any such finding would empower the ConstitutionalCourt to order the dissolution of Pheu Thai and strip away the political rights of each member of its executive committee, much as the courts did with Thai Rak Thaiin 2007 and the People Power Party in 2008.The political nature of this action is easily inferred on the basis of the Court’s flimsyrationale, and its willingness to trample on the Constitution to block theamendment process. The amendment under consideration by parliament centersexclusively on Article 291 of the Constitution, which the governing coalition seeksto modify in such a way as to permit the election of a Constitution DraftingAssembly. The allegation that this constitutes an attempt “to overthrow thedemocratic regime of government with the King as Head of State,” leveled by theDemocrat Party and its allies in the Senate, is based on the notion that the
“Charter Court Disqualifies Jatuporn,” Bangkok Post, May 18, 2012.http://www.bangkokpost.com/lite/topstories/294016/charter-court-disqualifies- jatuporn
“Democrat Seeks Dissolution of Pheu Thai Party,” Thai-Asean News Network, May21, 2012.http://www.tannetwork.tv/tan/ViewData.aspx?DataID=1054916