Lawmakers across party lines on the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee yesterday expressed concern about the efficiency, transparency and scale of the Council of Grand Justices’ handling of constitutional interpretations.
In a review of a draft amendment to the Act of Interpretation Procedure For Grand Justices (司法院大法官審理案件法), the committee asked the Judicial Yuan to expedite the process of constitutional interpretations and to increase the ratio of cases received.
The committee also asked to allow the deliberations behind interpretations to be posted on the Internet.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井) and Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), along with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators You Mei-nu (尤美女) and Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻), proposed a draft act similar to the Fair and Speedy Criminal Trials Act (刑事妥速審判法) on the grounds that the council’s interpretations took too long and did not adequately protect the rights of the people.
Liao said that the average time it took the council to accept and close a constitutional interpretation case in the period between 2010 and last year was 692 days. Cases that the council dismissed averaged 101 days in length.
KMT Legislator Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said there were 3,911 applications for constitutional interpretations between 2003 and last year, adding that only 143 cases received an interpretation, while 3,616 were dismissed.
Those figures represent a dismissal rate of 92.4 percent, Lu said.
DPP legislators Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) and You said that parts of basic rights were often lost in administrative procedures, adding that although there was nothing illegal, the council should also consider introducing the German system of “constitutional complaint.”
In Germany, citizens may make a complaint to the German Federal Constitutional Court if they feel the state has infringed on their basic rights.
However, the Constitutional Court has the right to only choose submissions that can be expected to result in verdicts that affect basic rights.
The proposed amendment would set a deadline for the grand justices to offer information on a case, and would enable citizens to easily access information about the cases on the Internet.
Article 32 of the draft amendment states that the Council of Grand Justices should respond within six months on whether an appeal is eligible for a constitutional interpretation meeting.
The same article also states that the council should also arrive at a conclusion for accepted cases within half a year.
Article 75 of the amendment states that presidential and vice presidential impeachments should not be delayed, adding that the council should make a decision on impeachment cases within six months.
Article 76 states that should the grand justices approve impeachment, the impeached person should be immediately removed from office.
The committee approved the draft act on the condition that would be subject to a public hearing.
Meanwhile, Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Chin-fang (林錦芳) said during a legislative session that the grand justices held three meetings per week.
Every application and even the reason for the application must be voted on, Lin said, adding that such a process naturally takes a long time.
However, Lin said that the Judicial Yuan was also pushing for an amendment to expand the size of the law from four chapters and 35 articles, to nine chapters and 109 articles.