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  • Interpretation
  • No.512
  • Date
  • 2000/09/15
  • Issue
    • Does the Narcotics Elimination Act, which restrains defendants sentenced to imprisonment or the payment of fines from appealing to the Supreme Court, constitute an unreasonable restriction upon the people*s right of litigation protected by the Constitution?
  • Holding
    •        The objective of Article 16 of the Constitution, which protects the people*s right of instituting legal proceedings, is to guarantee the people the said right in accordance with legal procedures and the right to a fair trial. The court hierarchy, litigation procedures and relevant requirements should be stipulated by the legislative authorities pursuant to laws that are just and reasonable, depending on the type, nature and policy objectives of the case in litigation and the functions of the judicial system. Article 16, first sentence, of the Narcotics Elimination Act as amended and promulgated on July 27, 1992 (amended and promulgated as the Drug Control Act on May 20, 1998) stipulates that: "Persons who violate this Article shall be brought to District Courts or one of their branches as the court of first instance, and to the High Court or its branch as the court of last resort." Appeals to the Supreme Court by the defendant are prohibited where a penalty of imprisonment or a fine has been imposed. This restriction on criminal litigation procedure is an attempt by the legislative authorities, in light of the harmful effect of narcotics on the society and the need to impose rehabilitative sentences due to the nature of the crime, to repress the crime effectively, in order to eliminate narcotics and maintain the citizens’ physical and mental well-being, and it is a just and reasonable restriction. With respect to criminal cases, appeals to the highest appellate court are prohibited unless the judgments violate the law. In the event a judgment is determined to be in violation of the law, proceedings for a remedy of extraordinary appeal may be instituted as expressly provided for in Articles 377 and 441 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Where the intermediate appellate courts impose a penalty of imprisonment or a fine, and the rendering of such judgment is in violation of the law, relief processes are available. In cases where the defendants are sentenced to death or life imprisonment, appeals to the Supreme Court are available by operation of law. The foregoing seeks to protect the interests of the defendants and does not exceed the scope of the legislative authorities* discretion. It does not curtail the people*s right of instituting legal proceedings protected by the Constitution nor does it conflict with Articles 7 and 23 of the Constitution.
  • Reasoning
    •        The objective of Article 16 of the Constitution, which protects the people*s right of instituting legal proceedings, is to guarantee the people the said right in accordance with legal procedures and the right to a fair trial. The court hierarchy, litigation procedures and relevant requirements should be stipulated by the legislative authorities pursuant to laws that are just and reasonable, depending on the type, nature and policy objectives of the case in litigation and the functions of the judicial system. The foregoing has been explicitly explained in this Yuan*s Interpretation Nos. 393, 396, 418 and 442. Article 16, first sentence, of the Narcotics Elimination Act as amended and promulgated on July 27, 1992 (amended and promulgated as the Drug Control Act on May 20, 1998) stipulates that: "Persons who violate this Article shall be brought to District Courts or one of their branches as the court of first instance, and to the High Court or its branch as the court of last resort." Appeals to the Supreme Court by the defendant are prohibited where a penalty of imprisonment or a fine has been imposed. This procedure is a restriction on criminal litigation procedure with regard to matters for which an appeal is available, and is an attempt by the legislative authorities, in light of the harmful effect of narcotics on the society and the need to impose rehabilitative sentences due to the nature of the crime, to repress the crime effectively, in order to eliminate narcotics and maintain the citizens’ physical and mental well-being, and it is a just and reasonable restriction. With respect to criminal cases, appeals to the highest appellate court are prohibited unless the judgments violate the law. In the event a judgment is determined to be in violation of the law, proceedings for a remedy of extraordinary appeal may be instituted as expressly provided for in Articles 377 and 441 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Where the intermediate appellate courts impose a penalty of imprisonment or a fine, and the rendering of such judgment is in violation of the law, relief processes are available. In cases where the defendants are sentenced to death or life imprisonment, appeals to the Supreme Court are available by operation of law. This does not exceed the scope of the legislative authorities* discretion; moreover, the provisions in the said Articles have provided the defendant with a right to appeal to the intermediate appellate courts, without taking away his/her right of instituting legal proceedings. It does not contravene the principle of proportionality stipulated in Article 23 of the Constitution, nor does it curtail the people*s right of instituting legal proceedings protected by the Constitution or conflict with Article 7 of the Constitution.  
      
    • *Translated by Wei-Feng Huang of THY Taiwan International Law Offices.
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