The Taiwan High Court on Thursday ruled in favor of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, revoking the Broadcasting Corporation of China’s (BCC,中廣) ownership of eight lots on Minzu Road in Banciao District (板橋), New Taipei City (新北市).
The ministry, in 2004 under the then-Democratic Progressive Party administration, filed a civilian lawsuit against the BCC’s claims of ownership of the land, which the ministry said were stolen from the state.
The ministry’s complaint said the land on which buildings with the addresses No. 658, No. 752 and No. 570-1 were built were national properties that the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government took over from the Japanese following Japan’s defeat in World War II.
The BCC was owned by the KMT until 2005.
The property was listed as national property and entrusted to the Ministry of Communications and the then-KMT’s Central Committee Radio Broadcasting Station, the organization that preceded the BCC.
The BCC, citing the change of management agency as a reason, transferred the managing organization in charge of the land to the BCC in 1980, and in 1985 also transferred ownership of the land to the BCC.
The three plots of land were later split into five plots, which now hold the buildings with the addresses No. 658-3, No. 658-4, No. 752-2, No. 752-3 and No. 752-4.
According to the ministry’s complaint, all eight pieces of land should be state property.
It asked the court to verify that the state was the rightful owner of the land, according to Article 28 of the National Property Act (國有財產法).
Article 28 of the act states that administrative or managing organizations do not have any power to process or profit from public property. Any profits made that do not go against the purpose or original focus of the industry is not included in this limit.
However, the BCC said that all eight pieces of property were signed under the BCC’s name in July 1947 — before the National Property Act was implemented in 1969.
Since the BCC received the property from its predecessor, it is not public property as defined under the National Property Act, it said.
The BCC added that all of the properties in question had been included in a report to the Executive Yuan by the KMT Central Financial Committee, which was then approved by the KMT’s then-Supreme National Defense Council.
The Executive Yuan in the 1950s had also approved the BCC’s takeover of the plots and their price would be deducted from the subsidies given to the BCC, it said, adding that the entire process of acquiring the land was legal.
The court ruled in favor of the BCC in the first and second trials, saying that the properties were given to the BCC under government sanction and the broadcaster was therefore the owner of the properties.
The ministry, unsatisfied with the rulings, appealed the case with the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court revoked the former rulings and sent the case back to the Taiwan High Court for retrial, which handed down its ruling late on Thursday.
It was the opinion of the High Court’s retrial panel that the BCC was entrusted with properties, including the eight plots in question, that had to do with radio broadcasting during the Japanese colonization of Taiwan.
However, this did not mean that the BCC inherited ownership of those properties, and thus the land was still state property.
The transfer of ownership of the properties to the BCC in 1980 to 1985 was in violation of Articles 28 and 13 of the National Property Act, it said.
Article 13 of the act states that the Ministry of Finance may ask the local government or appropriate organization to manage or run property or assets if state property or assets have an actual such need.
The High Court added that the eight pieces of land, though under the BCC’s name, were not owned by the broadcaster, and therefore the property owner was still the state.
The court added that the management and ownership of the property listed under the BCC was in violation of state ownership of the land.
The case can still be appealed.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
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