The Council of Grand Justices struck down a legal requirement yesterday that permission should be obtained before outdoor rallies of an urgent or incidental nature can be held.
The Parade and Assembly Act (集會遊行法) currently requires permission to be obtained in advance from the police for all outdoor rallies, even if they are spur-of-the-moment events.
The Council of Grand Justices issued Constitutional Interpretation No. 718, ruling that the clause under the Parade and Assembly Act violates the Constitution and is against the principle of proportionality.
In the ruling, the council said it found the requirement “overly restrictive” and in violation of the constitutionally protected freedom of assembly.
The council ruled that the requirement will be invalidated beginning Jan. 1 next year and that lawmakers should amend the law to exempt urgent or incidental cases from requiring advance permission.
The ruling was issued in response to a petition for a constitutional interpretation filed in 2010 by Taipei District Court Judge Chen Su-fan (陳思帆).
Chen at the time was presiding over a case in which two professors were indicted for initiating the Wild Strawberries student movement sit-in without permission in 2008. She suspended the hearing and asked for a constitutional interpretation.
The sit-in, led by National Taiwan University assistant professor Lee Ming-tsung (李明璁), was staged to protest what they said was excessive force used by police to disperse participants in anti-China demonstrations during a visit to Taiwan by then-Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in November 2008. Lee was arrested for holding a sit-in without a permit.
Meanwhile, in response to questions from reporters whether the new constitutional interpretation would apply to the legality of student-led protests against the controversial cross-strait service trade pact that have occupied the Legislative Yuan since Tuesday evening, Council of Grand Justices’ Secretariat vice director Liu Li-fen (劉麗芬) yesterday said the current protest was considered to be an “indoor” rally. Therefore, the latest interpretation would not apply.