There have now been two disagreements between civilian and military courts on who has jurisdiction over two important cases.
Rung Sila and his lawyer submitted a request to the criminal court under Article 10 of the 1999 Court Jurisdiction Act for a ruling on whether he should be tried by a civilian rather than a military court. On 22 September 2015, the Criminal Court ruled that it had jurisdiction over the case. The military court had earlier ruled that it had jurisdiction of the case. A Court Jurisdiction Committee must make the final decision.
Going to the criminal court rather than the military court is important for Rung Sila. As he refuses to plead guilty, being tried by the criminal court allows appeals, right up to the Supreme Court. Any verdict in the military court is final.
The second case involves of Chaturon Chaisang, a former Puea Thai Party Education Minister, charged with defying the military junta’s orders as well as “sedition, and breaking Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Code, importing illegal information into the computer.”
As in the first case, the criminal court has claimed jurisdiction over the case when the military court has earlier claimed jurisdiction. Again, as “the two courts disagree, the Court Jurisdiction Committee formed by officials from both courts shall make a final decision whether which court should be handling the case in accordance to Article 10 of the 1999 Court Jurisdiction Act.”
PPT is not sure of the broader significance of these disagreements. Perhaps the judiciary is objecting to its subordination to the military. For the defendants, what is important is that while all courts in Thailand are politicized, military courts are tools of the junta.