Our Constitution does not use the term “Parliament.” Previously, a question was raised as to which entity was to represent our Parliament when such a designation was necessary for the sake of international networking. Upon petition, this Court issued J.Y. Interpretation No. 76, which succinctly holds that “the National Assembly, the Legislative Yuan, and the Control Yuan are jointly equivalent to a parliament as commonly understood in the world of democracies.” This Interpretation was essentially grounded on the consideration that these entities were all composed of representatives or members who were directly or indirectly elected by the people, and, in terms of their constitutional status and powers, they were all to be deemed as comparable to parliaments in democratic countries. However, Additional Article 15 of the Constitution [later revised and renumbered as Additional Article 7 of the Constitution] has rendered inoperable such original constitutional arrangements of the Control Yuan as the indirect election of its members, its power to confirm nominations to certain offices in the Judicial Yuan and the Examination Yuan, and the legislative immunities granted to its members by virtue of their serving as national representatives of the people. Under the aforementioned Additional Article of the Constitution, the Second-Term Members of the Control Yuan are to be nominated and appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly. The Control Yuan is thereby no longer a national representative entity, but an institution with a different status and powers. Accordingly, the aforementioned J.Y. Interpretation is no longer applicable to the Control Yuan.
Aside from establishing the National Assembly, the Constitution vests the executive, legislative, judicial, examination, and control powers in the five respective Yuans. With their powers vis-à-vis one another delineated by the Constitution, all of these institutions are the highest organs of the state, and the entire separation of powers is distinct from the separation of the three branches of government that is commonly adopted by other countries. There is no necessary connection, for instance, between the separation of powers of the five Yuans and the designation as to which entity is equivalent to the parliament as commonly understood in the world of democracies. The Additional Articles of the Constitution do not alter the five-Yuan governmental system, nor do they increase the powers of the Legislative Yuan. Since no change is made to the powers of the Control Yuan, such as the powers to censure or impeach public officials in central or local governments for dereliction of duty or violation of law, the power to rectify measures of the Executive Yuan and its affiliate ministries, and the ancillary power to make inquiries as vested by Articles 95 and 96 of the Constitution, these powers remain the sole prerogatives of the Control Yuan.
To enable the Legislative Yuan to function properly, Article 57, Subparagraph 1 of the Constitution provides that “[t]he Executive Yuan has the responsibility to present to the Legislative Yuan a policy statement and a report on its administration. When the Legislative Yuan is in session, its members have the right to question the Premier and the Ministers of the Executive Yuan.” In the same vein, Article 67, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution provides that “[t]he committees [of the Legislative Yuan] may invite government officials and concerned citizens to attend the committee meetings and answer questions.” In other words, members of the Legislative Yuan may ask or raise questions during sessions and thereby gain information concerning facts or opinions from answers provided by the questioned officials or by the invited attendees. If more information is needed, the Legislative Yuan may request that the relevant authorities provide information concerning the bill under review via a resolution of the Yuan or the respective committee. If necessary, the Legislative Yuan may request review of the original documents via a plenary Yuan resolution. Such arrangements are derived from and pursuant to the Constitutional provisions regarding the assembly and exercise of powers by members of the Legislative Yuan, and the responding authority is obliged to accommodate unless the refusal is warranted by law or can otherwise be justified. But there are instances in which the governmental authorities are authorized by the Constitution to act independently. Judges, for instance, are fundamentally protected by Article 80 of the Constitution to adjudicate cases in accordance with law independently and without any interference. Members of the Examination Yuan and Control Yuan are also protected by Article 88 of the Constitution and Additional Article 15, Paragraph 6 of the Constitution [later revised and renumbered as Additional Article 7, Paragraph 5 of the Constitution] respectively to act independently. Investigations conducted by prosecutors are closely related to criminal trials, and both are critical procedures for the proper exercise of the penal power of the state. Except for being constrained by prosecutorial integration, the ability of prosecutors to perform their duties independently and without outside interference shall also be protected. A relevant precedent is J.Y. Interpretation No. 13, in which this Court held that, except for their transfer, tenured prosecutors enjoy the same protections as tenured judges. Since the aforementioned personnel are supposed to carry out their responsibilities independently, they should be able to make decisions of their own without outside interference. Therefore, the Control Yuan has long been restrained from inquiring into measures such as the legal reasoning of judicial adjudication, and examination authority’s grading of examinees, decisions of the members of the Control Yuan on whether to impeach or rectify, and acts, files and evidence concerning the investigation and adjudication of a criminal case that has yet to be closed. For the same reason, the Legislative Yuan should be restrained from making requests for obtaining and reviewing documents from such institutions.
* Translation and Note by Yen-Tu SU
**Also available in Leading Cases of the Taiwan Constitutional Court, Vol. III (2020).