The Taiwan High Administrative Court rendered the 108-Su-1160 Decision of December 12, 2019 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that in case the only dispute in a complaint is the constitutionality of the law relied on for rendering the original disposition, if the Grand Justices have rendered an interpretation upholding the constitutionality, it should be deemed that the law relied on for rendering the original disposition is not unconstitutional and the Plaintiff’s complaint is obviously groundless.
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the Plaintiff was previously an Air Force colonel and retired on November 9, 2014 when he started to receive his retirement benefit. The Defendant redetermined the retirement benefit in accordance with Articles 26 and 46 the Statute for Military Service for Officers and Non-commissioned Officers of the Armed Forces as amended on June 21, 2018 and promulgated on July 1, 2018 (hereinafter, the “Service Statute as Amended”) by issuing a letter attached with a recalculation table (retirement payment). The Defendant subsequently issued a letter (which, together with the above letter, is hereinafter referred to as the “Original Disposition”) to correct the Plaintiff’s retirement benefit and adjust the monthly retirement benefit payment annually for July 2018 through June 2028 and July 2028 onwards. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal, which was rejected by a decision. Still dissatisfied, the Plaintiff brought an administrative action.
According to this Decision, Article 107, Paragraph 3 of the Administrative Procedure Law provides: “If the plaintiff’s complaint is obviously groundless under the law according to the facts associated with the complaint, the administrative court may elect to hand down a decision to reject the complaint without oral arguments.” According to the legislative reasons for this article, if the plaintiff’s complaint is obviously groundless under the law according to the facts associated with the complaint, the administrative court may elect to hand down a decision to reject the complaint without oral arguments in order to save manpower and cost and meet the principle of litigation economy. However, is the timing for determining the facts relied on for the Plaintiff’s complaint are obviously groundless under this article absolutely based on the “the Plaintiff’s filing of the complaint”? Or is it true that the court may elect to render a decision pursuant to the article without oral arguments so long as there is no dispute about the relevant facts and applicability of laws “in the course of the litigation” before a decision is rendered by the court? As to whether the Plaintiff’s complaint is obviously groundless, it is held in this Decision that the timing for such a determination should be considered with flexibility. To wit, in case the facts involved in the case are not disputed, and the dispute about the Plaintiff’s complaint merely pertains to the constitutionality of the law relied on to render the original disposition, if the constitutionality of the law is subsequently affirmed by an interpretation rendered by the Grand Justices of the Judicial Yuan, the court shall adjudicate pursuant to the gist of the interpretation, since interpretations rendered by the Grand Justices are binding to all agencies in this country. This should be sufficient to conclude that since the law relied on for the original disposition was not unconstitutional, the Plaintiff’s complaint was obviously groundless. Therefore, whether the Plaintiff’s complaint is obviously groundless is certainly not determined only based on “the time when the complaint is filed.”
It was further pointed out in this Decision that the gist of the Plaintiff’s complaint shows that he did not dispute the facts but merely contended that the Service Statute as Amended relied on by the Defendant to render the original disposition was unconstitutional. Since Judicial Interpretation No. 781 of the Judicial Yuan has indicated that such provision is not unconstitutional, the illegality in the Original Disposition as asserted by the Plaintiff obviously could not be established. Since the complaint was obviously groundless, a decision was directly rendered to dismiss the complaint without oral arguments.