The Council of Grand Justices yesterday ruled that provisions of the Act Governing the Settlement of Ill-gotten Properties by Political Parties and Their Affiliate Organizations (政黨及其附隨組織不當取得財產處理條例) are constitutional.
In Constitutional Interpretation No. 793, the grand justices upheld major areas of contention in the act, which were the basis of a constitutional challenge by seven Taipei High Administrative Court judges in May, after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 2016 brought a case questioning the act’s legality.
The interpretation addressed questions that the act might have hindered constitutional protections for citizens to organize political parties.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“Provisions in the act on the settlement and transfer of ill-gotten assets do not infringe upon the dissolution of political parties, which is unconstitutional, and they do not deprive political parties of those assets which they depend on for their continual operation,” the interpretation said.
The grand justices also said there was no breach of the Constitution in establishing the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee, and the committee’s authority did not contravene the “division of government power” under the Constitution.
The interpretation also ruled that the act does not contravene Article 7 of the Constitution, which provides all citizens equality, despite their political affiliation, nor does it breach the principles of “legal certainty” and “equality and proportionality.”
The interpretation cited Article 4 of the act which states that the settlement of ill-gotten assets is focused on those acquired by political parties without paying a fair price.
“Before the lifting of Martial Law and the end of wartime mobilization to suppress a communist rebellion, the KMT used its dominance as the ruling party to obtain properties from the nation and its people. The KMT did so in ways which appeared in form as legal, but the actual process contravened the law and order of a constitutional democracy,” Judicial Yuan Secretary-General Lin Hui-huang (林輝煌) said in a statement yesterday. “Therefore, corrective measures should be taken to build an environment for fair competition among all political parties, and to ensure ‘constitutional order of liberal democracy.’”
“For our democracy, under the rule of law with a plurality of political parties, it is essential to have fair and equal competition among all political parties, and therefore some appropriate measures are needed to regulate the finances of political parties,” Lin said.
The committee said that the interpretation “is an important decision in establishing a firm foundation for the nation’s efforts to achieve transitional justice and to handle properties and assets obtained through illegal means by political parties.”
The KMT said the Council of Grand Justices is no longer an independent and neutral organization.
“The KMT is not surprised that the grand justices, who have been approved by the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP], would reach such a constitutional interpretation,” it said in a statement, adding that the council has become an affiliate organization of the DPP.
KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) added that members of the Ill-gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee have certain political leanings.
The members have undermined the judiciary and have decided that the KMT has obtained assets illegally, which only serves to highlight how the independence of the judiciary and, in general, the rule of law, is being eroded, she said.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiao-kuang
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