Court ducks PM status call

Court ducks PM status call

The Administrative Court on Tuesday insisted it had not received a formal request to interpret whether the National Council for Peace and Order's (NCPO) chief is a state official, and therefore prohibited from being nominated as a prime ministerial candidate.

The court cannot examine the issue until a formal request is made, said Prawit Bunthiam, spokesman for the court.

He was responding to calls by several political parties and groups for the Election Commission to seek a court interpretation to clarify the issue with regard to Gen Prayut, who is both NCPO chief and prime minister.

Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, also a prominent legal expert, explained that Gen Prayut is a "political office holder", which is not considered a state official, and that allows him to be nominated as a prime ministerial candidate.

"The definition of state official is given in various laws depending on how such officials exercise their authority. So, there is no single definition of a state official that fits all contexts," said Mr Prawit.

In the case of Gen Prayut, it is the Election Commission, not the Administrative Court, that has the authority to decide if he is a state official or not, according to Mr Wissanu.

However, if a formal request is made asking the court to give an interpretation on the matter, the court must first determine whether it has the authority to take up the request, he said.

Mr Wissanu also noted that the Administrative Court must dismiss any petitions to suspend the NCPO orders because such orders were issued under powers afforded by the constitution, which is not within the court's jurisdiction.

Mr Wissanu cited an Administrative Court dismissal of a petition against an NCPO order banning certain individuals from leaving the country. The court rejected the petition because the travel ban was issued by the NCPO within the scope of its constitutional remit.

The central issue had nothing to do with whether the order was passed by a state official or not, he said.

However, it is a different story with a petition filed against an order issued by a state official and supported by an NCPO order. In such a case, the order is based on the judgement of a state official, which the court has the authority to overrule, Mr Wissanu said.

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