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Constitutional Court weighs injunction on oversight law amendments

07/10/2024 11:27 PM
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CNA photo July 10, 2024
CNA photo July 10, 2024

Taipei, July 10 (CNA) A lawyer representing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus on Wednesday urged the Constitutional Court to grant an injunction halting the enforcement of controversial amendments to executive oversight laws.

Speaking to 15 justices at the Constitutional Court, DPP caucus attorney Chen Peng-kwang (陳鵬光) argued that the amendments were unconstitutional, as they violated the principle of the separation of powers and infringed on people's rights.

The amendments to the Law Governing the Legislative Yuan's Power and the Criminal Code grant the Legislative Yuan new investigative powers, including the power to subject public officials to fines or jail time if they refuse to attend hearings or provide information when asked to do so by legislators, or if they present false information.

Opposing an injunction halting the enforcement of the amendments, Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲) told the court that there was no "urgent" need for such an injunction given the fact that the Legislature is set to end its current session on July 16 and will not start a new one until September.

The opposition lawmaker was suggesting that it was unlikely that the Legislature would take substantive action based on the amendments that took effect on June 26 before the Constitutional Court ruled on the constitutionality of those revisions.

Countering Weng's argument, Chen said opposition lawmakers were planning to apply the updated laws in the near future to investigate the Executive Yuan's handling of the egg import scheme and the National Communication Commission's license approval for Mirror TV.

The DPP caucus attorney added that if the court denied an injunction, the "damage" resulting from the Legislature's planned application of the controversial amendments could be "wide-ranging" and "substantial" for government agencies as well as the public.

According to the Constitutional Court Procedure Act, an injunction may be granted "as a last resort" to "prevent the basic rights protected under the Constitution and public interest from being irreparably and materially impaired."

The decision to grant an injunction in the current case requires the approval of more than half of the 15 justices of the Constitutional Court.

However, there is no fixed timetable for the presiding justices to decide on the matter, and injunctions have only been issued in three cases throughout the country's history.

The DPP caucus, along with President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the Executive Yuan and the Control Yuan have also separately petitioned the Constitutional Court for a ruling on the constitutionality of the amendments passed by KMT and Taiwan People's Party (TPP) lawmakers on May 28.

The court ought to make a judgment on the constitutionality of the amendments within three months after the conclusion of oral arguments, but this deadline may be extended by two months if necessary, according to the Constitutional Court Procedure Act.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

Enditem/JT

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