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  • Interpretation
  • No.399
  • Date
  • 1996/03/22
  • Issue
    • A person’s right to select his own name is fully protected under Article 22 of the Constitution. Is the Ministry of Interior’s Letter of Interpretation prohibiting the change of one’s name in conflict with the said constitutional safeguard?
  • Holding
    •        The right of an individual to select his/her own name is a type of personal right. The name of an individual signifies an aspect of his/her personality. Therefore, the right to choose one’s own name is a physical freedom safeguarded under Article 22 of the Constitution. Article 6, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 6, of the Act of Naming provides for an application procedure requiring approval from the agency-in-charge in order to change one’s name on the grounds of indecent pronunciation of character(s) in the name or other identified special reasons. Whether identified special reasons exist for the change of one’s name must be determined by the agency-in-charge on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with concrete facts. Characters used in names, their pronunciations and meanings are all interrelated factors. Indecency in the pronunciations or euphemistic secondary meanings fall within the category of other identified special reasons stated in the above referenced Act. The Interpretation Letter by the Ministry of Interior, dated April 19, 1976, Ref. No. Tai-Nei-Hu-Tze-682266, that reads, “the legislative term ‘indecent names’ allows no expanded definition through their pronunciations or euphemistic secondary meanings,” is contrary to the constitutional safeguard of personal rights, and therefore shall not be followed or applied.
  • Reasoning
    •        As stated in Interpretation No. 137 by this Yuan, any administrative agency may issue interpretive rulings concerning the laws and regulations that it undertakes to enforce, which rulings may in turn be applied by judges in adjudicating cases, but will not necessarily bind them as the judges may adopt opinions different from such rulings when they apply the law. Interpretive rulings of laws by the administrative agency-in-charge are for the reference of judges in adjudication, who, however, are not bound thereby. On the other hand, any administrative ruling that has been cited by a court as the basis of its judgment is subject to our review, as Interpretation No. 216 of this Yuan has inferred. We are able to ascertain from the dictum of the Administrative Court Judgment, 83-Pan-Tze-948, although not clearly stated so therein, that the administrative ruling of the Ministry of Interior, dated as of April 19, 1976, Ref. No. Tai-Hu-Nei- Tze-682266 was implicitly referred to as the basis of the referenced judgment, and therefore, take the matter according to Article 5, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 2, of the Constitutional Interpretation Procedure Act.
      
    •        The right to choose a name is a type of personal right. The name of an individual signifies an aspect of his personality. Therefore, the right to choose one’s own name is a physical freedom safeguarded under Article 22 of the Constitution. Article 6, Paragraph 1, of the Act of Naming sets forth several restrictions upon application by private citizens for a name change; Subparagraph 6 further provides for an application procedure requiring approval from the agency-in-charge in order to change one’s name on the grounds of indecent pronunciation of character(s) in the name or other identified special reasons. The agency-in-charge shall apply objective criteria to determine what constitutes indecent pronunciation of character(s) in a name. As for the identified special reasons, this term involves an indefinite concept of law, and the agency-in-charge must accordingly make its decision on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with concrete facts. Whether or not the characters chosen in giving names are decent hinges upon the subjective value judgment of the person who enjoys the right to a name, such naming process deserves deference from the agency-in-charge in making its own decisions thereof. Characters used in names, their pronunciations and meanings are all interrelated factors. Indecency in the pronunciations or euphemistic secondary meanings fall within the category of other identified special reasons stated in the above referenced Statute. The Interpretation Letter by the Ministry of Interior, dated April 19, 1976, Ref. No. Tai-Nei- Hu-Tze-682266, that reads “the legislative term ‘indecent names’ allows for no expanded definition through their pronunciations or euphemistic secondary meanings,” is contrary to the constitutional safeguard of personal rights, and therefore shall not be followed or applied. 
      
    • *Translator by Nigel N. T. Li.
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