Administrative Court reduces penalty on Chula student activists

The Administrative Court has ruled that Chulalongkorn University must reduce the penalty imposed on Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal and his 7 colleagues and revoked the order removing him as President of the Student Council. This came too late to change anything as his one-year term ended last year.


Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal

On 4 April, the Administrative Court ruled that the removal of Netiwit from the Student Council Presidency is revoked. The deduction of 20 behavioural points was also decreased to 10, meaning that their political rights in the University have been retrieved. The Administrative Court also ruled that the University has to pay compensation of 10,000 baht to each of the 8 students, plus 7.5% annual interest.

Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, activist and former president of Chulalongkorn University Student Council, posted on Facebook explaining that both punishments were given to him and his colleagues after the so-called ‘headlock’ incident. In 2017, the 8 student activists did not prostrate themselves before the King Chulalongkorn statue and walked out of the oath ceremony, a ritual held every year for freshmen students. The student activists explained that they acted in accordance with the wishes of King Chulalongkorn who abolished prostration in 1873.

However, the University deducted 25 behavioural points for each student, making them ineligible for positions in the Student Council and 15 points away from a one-term suspension. Suphalak Bumroongkit, the Deputy President of the Student Council at that time, was also put in a headlock by a professor during the event for what the Deputy President claimed as a “violation of an agreement” as staff had arranged a separate space for them to pay respect without having to prostrate themselves.


The oath ceremony in 2017

The Administrative Court’s decision was welcomed by Netiwit, who at the time had been the President of the Student Council for only 3 months. In 2018, along with his 7 colleagues, he filed a petition with the Court against Chulalongkorn University, its President and Grievance Committee. “At this moment, I can have peace of mind,” said Netiwit on Twitter.

“At first, we were accused of 5 violations with a 25-point deduction, making us ineligible for positions in the Student Council and cutting me off being President,” said Netiwit. “After we submitted an appeal, the Grievance Committee reduced the score deduction from 25 to 20 points, and the violations from 5 to 2. Today, the Administrative Court ruled to reduce the penalty from 20 points to 10 points and the violations from 2 to 1 and revoked our removal from the Student Council.”