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(釋字第 729 號 )      友善列印PRINT  
Interpretation
J.Y.
Interpretation
NO.729  [ Legislative Yuan’s power to request investigation files ]
Date 2015/5/1
Issue Can the Legislative Yuan request investigation files held by the Prosecution?
Holding The Prosecution represents the State to investigate and prosecute crimes. Based on the principles of Separation of Powers and of Checks and Balances, and in order to protect the Prosecution’s right to independently exercise its powers, the Legislative Yuan shall not request relevant files in cases pending the Prosecution’s investigation. If the Legislative Yuan requests files of cases which the Prosecution’s investigation has been completed and a non-prosecutorial disposition has been rendered or the matter has been closed by other methods, the request shall be based on a specific proposal of which the purpose and scope are clear and must be closely related to the exercise of the Legislative Yuan’s constitutional powers, and must further be limited to the extent that such request is not forbidden by law. If the request may compromise the investigation of other cases, the Prosecution may withhold the provision of the files until the investigation of such other cases is concluded. If the request of investigation files is for original documents or copies identical to the original documents, the request must be made by a resolution of the general meeting of the Legislative Yuan; the request for reference materials can only be made by resolution of the general meeting or the committee of the Legislative Yuan. The use of information so known due to the request shall be limited to the extent necessary for the Legislative Yuan to exercise its constitutional powers, and the rights and interests of the relevant parties (such as reputation, privacy, trade secrets, etc.) shall be protected. J.Y. Interpretation No. 325 is hereby supplemented.
Reasoning This case originated from the Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee of the Legislative Yuan (hereinafter “JOLSC”). When the JOLSC reviewed the bills for the partial amendment of the Communication Security and Surveillance Act, it requested Petitioner, the Supreme Prosecutors Office, based on Article 45 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power, to provide the application for communication and surveillance, transcripts, surveillance transcripts, and government documents from the files of the case 100 Te-Ta-Zi No. 61 for its review. Petitioner claimed that pursuant to the intents of J.Y. Interpretation Nos. 325 and 585, investigation power of Prosecutors is exercised as an independent power from others; such power is protected by the Constitution just as Judges’ trial power is protected in criminal cases, and as the investigation files are part of investigation proceedings, which are not disclosed to the public, files are thus not within the scope of the Legislative Yuan’s power of request. Even where an investigation is completed and the Prosecutors are found to have committed illegal acts or misconduct, the investigation shall be conducted by the Control Yuan. The Legislative Yuan can only generally oversee the Prosecution in matters such as the system, budget, and the laws, and there is no power of the Legislative Yuan to intervene in an individual case, and request investigation files. Petitioner thus refused to provide to the Legislative Yuan the files as requested. JOLSC thus regarded the Prosecutor General as destructing the Legislative Yuan, supervision and accused the Prosecutor General of contempt of the Legislative Yuan, and referred the case to the Control Yuan for investigation. As such, there is controversy over the exercise of Petitioner’s investigation power and the Legislative Yuan’s power to request documents in applying the Constitution, and Petitioner thus requested its supervising entity, the Ministry of Justice, to further submit the controversy to the Executive Yuan to petition for the interpretation of Constitution. The petition is in compliance with Article 5, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 1 and Article 9 of the Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act, and was accepted accordingly.

In order to exercise the powers granted by the Constitution, other than following the provisions of Article 67, Paragraph 2, of the Constitution, and Article 3, Paragraph 2, Subparagraph 1, of the Additional Articles to the Constitution, after resolution of its general meeting or a committee meeting, the Legislative Yuan can request relevant authorities to provide reference materials for issues related to the proposal; when necessary, after a resolution is passed in its general meeting, the Legislative Yuan can request original documents. The authorities to which such request is made cannot decline such request unless such decline is made in accordance with the law or for other justifiable reasons. However, where the independent exercise of power by a government authority is protected by the Constitution, such as in litigation cases the investigation and trial related disposition and files before a final and binding judgment is granted, the power to request documents is by nature restricted. J.Y. Interpretation 325 has already clarified this issue. Following the intents of the aforementioned Interpretation issued by this Yuan, the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power thus stipulates that “the Legislative Yuan, after a resolution passed by the general meeting, may establish a Request Committee, or after resolution by a committee, may form a Special Task Force, to request relevant authorities to provide reference materials regarding specific proposal related issues (Paragraph 1). When necessary, the Request Committee or the Special Task Force may, by resolution of the general meeting, request the relevant authorities to provide original documents related to issues involved in the proposal as identified in the preceding paragraph (Paragraph 2).” Furthermore, Article 47, forepart of Paragraph 1, stipulates that “the authorities to which a request has been made, unless they may refuse such request in accordance with the laws or for other justifiable reasons, must provide with the requested documents within five days.” The Legislative Yuan’s powers to request provision of reference materials and files is an ancillary power assisting the Legislative Yuan to exercise its constitutional powers; therefore, the specific proposal request must be relevant to the resolution for statute, budget, or consent to appointment of nominees which are significantly related to the exercise of constitutional powers over specific proposals. To decide whether the exercise of the request power is significantly related to the exercise of the Legislative Yuan’s powers, the purpose and scope of the aforementioned “specific proposal” in Article 45, Paragraph 1, of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power must both be clearly identified.

As the Prosecution’s files are significantly related to the prosecution of crimes, the files bear uniqueness and importance. If the investigative content of cases pending criminal investigation is leaked, such leak will enable suspects to conspire or to escape, and will further undermine the effects of investigation and have an impact on the social order. Based on the principles of Separation of Powers and of Checks and Balances, and the protection of the Prosecution to independently exercise its powers, the Legislative Yuan shall not request relevant files pending the Prosecution’s investigation. As for cases in which the Prosecution’s investigation has been completed and a non-prosecutorial disposition has been confirmed or has been closed by other methods without an indictment (e.g., sign-off in prosecutorial practices), as the investigation process and actions have concluded, and if the purpose and scope of such request are clearly and significantly related to the Legislative Yuan’s necessary exercise of its constitutional powers, and such request is not forbidden by law, and the request is made in accordance with statutory organization and process, due to the reason that investigation power would not be compromised in substance, after a resolution of a general meeting of the Legislative Yuan, such closed case files can then be requested. Additionally, where a case is closed after investigation with a finalized non-prosecutorial disposition or has been closed by other methods without indictment, if materials in the file are related to the same defendants or other defendants in other cases, and if the request could compromise the investigation of the other related cases, to enable the Prosecutors in their independent exercise of powers of criminal prosecution and so as to achieve the exercise of State power of penalty, the Prosecution may withhold its files and refuse the request until the investigations of the other related cases are concluded with indictments, finalized non-prosecutorial dispositions, or by other methods without indictment. As for requesting the investigation files of copies identical to the original documents, because the content in such copies is the same as in the original documents, according to the intents identified above, such request can only be made by a resolution of the general meeting of the Legislative Yuan. J.Y. Interpretation No. 325 should be supplemented. Moreover, when the Legislative Yuan exercises the power to request, if such request violates the Constitution or relevant laws, there constitutes a justifiable reason to reject such request.

When the Legislative Yuan exercises it constitutional power and requests original documents or copies of investigation cases files from the Prosecution, as the content of the investigation files may contain matters of State secrets, personal privacy, commercial secrets, or criminal evidence relating to national interests or personal rights, the use of information so known due to the request should be limited to the extent necessary for the Legislative Yuan or its Members to exercise its or their constitutional powers, and the Legislative Yuan and its Members must protect the rights and interests (such as reputation, privacy, and trade secrets) of the relevant parties. With respect to matters that must be kept confidential pursuant to relevant laws, the Legislative Yuan and its Members must also duly fulfill its or their obligation to maintain such confidentiality; in addition, with respect to any specific case the Legislative Yuan cannot make any comment or resolution on the investigation process, non-prosecutorial disposition, or closure without indictment with other methods, unrelated to the exercise of its constitutional power. This is a plain interpretation in accordance with the principles of the Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and mutual respect among the branches of government.

The power of the Legislative Yuan is different from that of the Control Yuan, and each deals with the matters within its scope of power. The power to request documents exists so that the Legislative Yuan can exercise its legislative power using information gained from materials requested; whereas the investigative power of the Control Yuan exists to enable the Control Yuan to exercise its controlling powers of impeachment, censorship, and corrective measures. Therefore, the nature, function, and purpose of the two powers are distinctive, and there is no overlapping or conflict with respect to the respective powers. Thus the Legislative Yuan’s exercise of the power to request documents does not invade the Control Yuan’s investigation power. As such, the Prosecution cannot reject a request based on the argument that the Legislative Yuan’s power invades the Control Yuan’s investigation power.

When the Legislative Yuan exercises the power to request documents, if the exercise conflicts with the government agency to which the request is directed in the way such that certain controversies emerge, the Legislative Yuan and the government agency to which the request is directed should better resolve the controversies through negotiation routes, or by the judiciary after enacting a law specifying the prerequisite and procedure. Such controversies may include the following: whether the matter subject to the request is within the realm of a government agency’s independent exercise of its powers as protected by the Constitution, whether the request is significantly related to the specific proposal within the Legislative Yuan’s constitutional powers, whether the scope of the request is forbidden by law, whether the request is made by statutory organization and process, and whether the refusal of a request is made with justifiable reason. It is hereby pointed out that the relevant agencies must establish the legal mechanism to resolve disputes among agencies as soon as possible.

Petitioner complained that the content of Articles 11 and 12 passed by the JOLSC’s resolution on the “Operation Rules Governing the Special Task for Surveillance and Request (the “Rules”)” exceeds the scope of the power created by Article 45 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power, conflicts with Article 63 of the Constitution and with J.Y. Interpretation No. 325, and petitioned for interpretation. It is founded that the Rules are merely internal operating guidelines for the purpose of establishing methods to request investigation files of the case 100 Te-Ta-Zi No. 61, so that the JOLSC can exercise the power to request files as mandated by Article 45 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power (see Tai-Li-Yuan-Si-Zi No. 1034300280, the Legislative Yuan, May 7, 2014). Therefore, the Rules, by their nature, are a bylaw of the Committee, passed so as to assist the operation of the Task Force, and thus should be categorized as a matter for the internal operation of the Committee, and there is no issue of a law or order being in conflict with the Constitution. This part of the petition, does not meet the elements of Article 5, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 1 of the Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act, and pursuant to Paragraph 3 of the same Article, shall not be accepted. The petition further claimed that although the JOLSC requests the files pending an investigation under Article 45, Paragraph 1 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power, nonetheless, based on the intents of J.Y. Interpretation Nos. 585 and 633, and on the Freedom of Government Information Law, Petitioner is not obligated to provide the files for the Legislative Yuan’s review; moreover, according to Article 66, Paragraph 10, of the Court Organization Act, Petitioner argues that except for annual budget proposals and legislation proposals, the Prosecutor General is not required to attend the meetings of the Legislative Yuan for questioning, which is different from Article 11 of the Regulations, which stipulates that when a meeting of the Special Task Force is convened, it may invite the chief of the government agency from which the document is requested, including the Prosecutor General, for explanation. Based on these arguments, Petitioner requested a unified interpretation. According to Article 7, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 1 of the Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act, “a central or local government agency whose opinion on the application of laws or regulations, is different from that expressed by the same agency or another agency regarding application of the same laws or regulation,” the agency can petition for a unified interpretation. However, Petitioner has not stated that its opinion is different from that of another agency on the same laws or regulations. Therefore, this part of the petition for a unified interpretation is not meeting the requirements of Article 7, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 1 of the Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act, and shall not be accepted according to Paragraph 3 of the same Article.
Editor's Note Summary of facts:

In November 2013, the JOLSC, for the purpose of reviewing the bill for partial amendment of the Communication Security and Surveillance Act, and according to Article 45 of the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan’s Power, requested for its review that Petitioner, the Supreme Prosecutors Office, provide the application for communication and surveillance, transcripts, surveillance transcripts, and government documents from the files of the case 100 Te-Ta-Zi No. 61.

Petitioner claimed that pursuant to the intents of J.Y. Interpretation Nos. 325 and No. 585, investigation by Prosecutors is protected by the Constitution as an independent exercise of power externally, and as the investigation files are part of investigation proceedings which shall not be disclosed to the public, files are thus not within the scope of the Legislative Yuan’s request. Even where an investigation is completed, should the Prosecutors be found to have committed illegal acts or misconduct, the investigation must be conducted by the Control Yuan. The Legislative Yuan can only generally oversee the Prosecution in respect of the system, budget, and the laws, and the Legislative Yuan has no power to request investigation files of individual case. Petitioner thus refused to provide the Legislative Yuan with the case files requested. JOLSC thus regarded the Prosecutor General as evading the Legislative Yuan’s supervision and contempt of the Legislative Yuan, and thus submitted the wrongdoing to the Control Yuan for investigation. Petitioner therefore claimed that there were constitutional controversies over the exercise of its investigation power and the Legislative Yuan’s power to request documents, and through its supervising agency, the Ministry of Justice, and then the Executive Yuan, submit the petition for constitutional interpretation and unified interpretation.
Opinion
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