Meaningful law amendment

Updated: 2013-12-24 07:16

(China Daily)

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The current deliberation of the amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress takes on a particular meaning when the independent and fair exercise of judicial power by judges has been written as a goal of judicial reform.

The Administrative Procedure Law, which took effect in October 1990, which allows ordinary citizens to bring government to court, was considered a breakthrough in the country's development of rule of law.

"For the first time in China's history an ordinary resident can take up the weapon of law to defend his or her own interest and right against the government." This is how some legal experts described the significance of this particular law when it took effect.

However, it is one thing to have such a law, and it is completely another to effectively apply it whenever one needs it to protect one's interest and right.

It is usually very difficult to make courts accept such cases. Nor is it easy to beat a government in an administrative lawsuit even if one succeeds in bringing it to court. Even if one wins such a case, it can be a difficult process to have the verdict executed.

The government involved may wield its influence on the litigation process, either to prevent a court from accepting a case or interfere with the fair and independent trial of the case.

Of the 1.9 million administrative cases that courts throughout the country have handled in the past 23 years, about 10 percent of plaintiffs won their cases against the government.

The pleas to the judicial channel for protecting rights and interests account for the huge number of petitioners to governments, the central government in particular.

So it is a matter of whether the judicial power can be independently and fairly exercised when it comes to the conflict between citizens and a government.

Since independent and fair exercise of judicial power by judges has been prescribed for the current judicial reform at the Third Plenum of the Party in November this year, those responsible for drafting the amendment of the 23-year-old Administrative Procedure Law and those who deliberate it for its adoption should know how to make it more potent and applicable.

That is why we expect much of it.

(China Daily 12/24/2013 page8)