The Constitutional Court’s Order on the Constitutionality of Closed-Door Trial: The case of Da Torpedo
Here is the gist of the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of Section 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Previously, Da Torpedo’s attorney challenged in the Lower Court (Criminal Court) that the holding of her trial on lèse majesté charges in closed doors is in breach of Section 29 and Section 40(2) of the 2007 Constitution (concerning the rights to fair trial).
“Holding a trial in closed doors may not always render unfairness to either of the two parties in the judicial procedure. And it may not lead to restriction of the rights of a defendant in a criminal case since if a trial is held in closed doors by the virtue of Section 178 of the Criminal Procedure Code, presence of individuals concerned with the trial is allowed in the Court room including the plaintiff and his/her attorney, the defendant and his/her attorney, custodian of the defendant, expert witness and interpreter, etc.
It is deemed by the Court that Section 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for basic right in trial as upheld in the Constitution. Though its application may result in some restriction of an individual’s rights and liberties, but the restriction is only made as necessary and does not journalize the matter of substance of such rights and liberties. In addition, the Section (177) is intended for general uses, not for any particular cases, or for particular individuals, the (Constitutional) Court thus rules that it does not violate or is in breach of either Section 29 or 40 (2) of the Constitution.”
Note: Section 177: “The Court may…issue an order that the trial be held within closed doors provided that it is in the interest of public order or good morals or in order to prevent secrets concerning the security of the state from being disclosed to public.”
Another intriguing thing to note is the Constitutional Court’s order read out in the Criminal Court on 17 October 2011 has been uploaded and made publicly available in the CC’s website since 11 May 2011 (http://www.constitutionalcourt.or.th/index.php?option=com_docman&task=ca...).