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  • Interpretation
  • No.457
  • Date
  • 1998/06/12
  • Issue
    • Are the relevant provisions of the Regulations for the Handling of the Government Owned Housing and Farmlands Vacated by Married Veterans after Their Hospitalization, Retirement or Death, which deprive a married daughter of a veteran of her heirship in respect of the distributed farmland and its subsequent cultivation upon the veteran’s death, in violation of the Constitution?
  • Holding
    •        “All citizens of the Republic of China, irrespective of sex, shall be equal before the law; the state shall further substantive gender equality.”  The foregoing provisions are unambiguously set forth in Article 7 of the Constitution and Article 10-VI of the Amendments to the Constitution, respectively.  The state organ, in implementing public administration missions, shall also comply with the aforesaid constitutional provisions while engaging in private acts that are subject to private law.  The Regulations for the Handling of the Government Owned Housing and Farmlands Vacated by Married Veterans after Their Hospitalization, Retirement or Death as proclaimed by the Veterans Affairs Commission, the Executive Yuan, are undoubtedly designed to ensure the livelihood of veterans and their surviving dependents, whereby parcels of state farmland are distributed to veterans as special and preferential treatment by the state.  As such, the rights and legal benefits so conferred are different from those acquired by ordinary citizens.  A legal relationship of loan for use is formed between a veteran and the state as far as the distributed farmland is concerned.  Upon the death of the veteran or the fulfillment of the loan for use, the competent authority should terminate the contract to reclaim the farmland so as to use the national resources in a reasonable manner.  If, instead, the competent authority allows the veteran’s surviving dependents to continue using and cultivating the originally distributed housing and farmland for the specific purpose of ensuring their livelihood, it should then consider whether the scope of the term “dependents” should extend to the veteran’s children, and should consider their abilities to earn a living and cultivate the farmland to determine whether it is necessary to continue the assistance before making appropriate plans based on the principle of gender equality.  Section 4-III of the aforesaid Regulations for Handling of the Housing and Lands provides, “If the surviving spouse of the deceased veteran remarries but without issue or only has daughter(s), the land and housing shall be reclaimed unconditionally upon the marriage of the daughter(s); and the rights of the veteran may be inherited by his son, if any.”  The relevant provisions stating to the effect that the right of inheritance in respect of a deceased veteran is limited to his son regardless of the son’s marital status are inconsistent with the aforesaid principle.  Therefore, the competent authority shall, within six months from the date of this Interpretation, carefully review and revise the relevant provisions based on the aforesaid essence of this Interpretation.
      
  • Reasoning
    •        “All citizens of the Republic of China, irrespective of sex, shall be equal before the law; the state shall further substantive gender equality.”  The foregoing provisions are unambiguously set forth in Article 7 of the Constitution and Article 10-VI of the Amendments to the Constitution, respectively.  The state organ, in carrying out public administration missions, shall also comply with the aforesaid constitutional provisions while formulating rules and engaging in private acts that are subject to private law.  The Regulations for the Handling of the Government Owned Housing and Farmlands Vacated by Married Veterans after Their Hospitalization, Retirement or Death as proclaimed by the Veterans Affairs Commission, Executive Yuan, on July 11, 1980, are designed by the state to deal with the circumstances in the wake of the government’s retreat to Taiwan by helping veterans to settle down and earn a living.  Under the said regulations, numerous parcels of state farmland administered by the Veterans Affairs Commission are distributed to veterans as special and preferential treatment by the state.  As such, the rights and legal benefits so conferred are different from those acquired by the ordinary citizens.  A legal relationship of loan for use is formed between a veteran and the state as far as the distributed farmland is concerned.  A loan for use is a contract without compensation that forms a specific relationship between the loaner and loanee.  Upon the death of the veteran or the fulfillment of the loan for use, the competent authority should terminate the contract to reclaim the farmland so as to use the national resources in a reasonable manner.  If, instead, the competent authority allows the veteran’s surviving dependents to continue using and cultivating the originally distributed housing and farmland for the specific purpose of ensuring their livelihood, it should then consider whether the scope of the term “dependents” should extend to the veteran’s children, and weigh their abilities to earn a living and cultivate the farmland to determine whether it is necessary to continue with the assistance to enable those with equal legal status and standing to enjoy the same benefits before making appropriate plans based on the principle of gender equality.  Section 4-III of the aforesaid Regulations for the Handling of the Housing and Lands provides, “If the surviving spouse of the deceased veteran remarries but is without issue or only has daughter(s), the land and housing shall be reclaimed unconditionally upon the marriage of the daughter(s); and the rights of the veteran may be inherited by his son, if any.”  The relevant provisions, which state to the effect that the right of inheritance in respect of a deceased veteran is limited to his son regardless of whether the son is capable of making a living, whether it is necessary to render assistance, and whether the son is married, are inconsistent with the principle of gender equality without having to consider whether the distributed farmland may be the subject matter of inheritance because they have gone so far as to give discriminatory treatment to a specific class of women based on sex and marital status.  Therefore, the competent authority shall, within six months from the date of this Interpretation, carefully review and revise the relevant provisions based on the aforesaid essence of this Interpretation.
      
    • *Translated by Vincent C. Kuan.
      
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