NPC expands public’s right to sue govt

By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2014-11-3 0:23:01

Amendment expected to shift claims from petition offices into courts

China's top legislature on Saturday adopted an amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law, which is expected to expand citizens' right to sue the government and reduce the number of petitions the government receives. 

It was the first revision to the law since its enactment in 1989. The revisions will take effect on May 1, 2015.

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) passed the amendment at the end of their week-long legislative session, saying it would make it easier for citizens to take the government to court.

Courts can also launch cases if the government is sued for violating agreements related to land or demolition compensation and commercial operations supervised by the government, according to the amendment.

Claimants can also file cases against the government if they are not satisfied with a government decision, as well as request court reviews of the legality of a government regulation.

The revision stipulates that courts are to accept additional cases related to the infringement of citizen rights, with claimants able to appeal to higher courts if local courts reject the cases without proper reason.

Under previous system, courts had to review the specific administrative actions involved in a case before filing suit, legal experts said, adding that this review process often became an excuse for courts to throw out cases.

The amendment renders the review process unnecessary if a case is litigable.

"The change of the case filing system is a highlight in the revised law, as it boosts the public's ability to sue the government," said Xin Chunying, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee.

A report by the Beijing Municipal People's Congress' legislative commission showed that only 30 percent of the cases filed against government agencies were accepted by Beijing courts in the past three years, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.

The difficulties in filing a court case against the government has led many people to petition the government instead, said Wang Cailiang, a Beijing-based lawyer who frequently represents people suing the government.

"With the revised law, there will be a rapid increase of actionable cases against governments. But I doubt whether the courts are ready to handle them," Wang said.

Jiang Bixin, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said that the revised law is expected to reduce the number of petitioners and rebuild public trust in the law.

Government officials could be detained if they illegally force a plaintiff to withdraw a lawsuit or if they refuse to attend a trial without proper reason, according to the revised law.

The revision also focuses on verdict enforcement, Xin said. If a government entity refuses  to abide by a verdict, its supervising officials can be detained.

"The revised law would also ensure administration by law, which is crucial to the rule of law," Wang said.


Posted in: Law

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