China to revise law to make it easier to sue government

Chinese people would find it easier to take the government to court if a draft amendment to a law over citizens` rights to sue authorities is approved by the Parliament.

Beijing: Chinese people would find it easier to take the government to court if a draft amendment to a law over citizens` rights to sue authorities is approved by the Parliament.

The draft amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law was today submitted to the country`s top legislature for a first reading.

The law, which went into effect in October 1990, is a major guarantee of citizens` rights to pursue the government through the courts, and this first revision to the law should alleviate "petition pressure", state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Citizens complain of "three difficulties" in making a case against governments - the filing of cases, the hearings of such cases and enforcement of verdicts which favour citizens, Xin Chunying, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People` s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said.

When citizens, legal persons or other organisations have disputes with governments or governmental staff, governments are unwilling to be defendants and courts are reluctant to accept and hear such cases, leading many citizens to try to solve their disputes through "letter and visit" (petitions), Xin said.

In many parts of the country, people have more confidence in petitions than in laws, she said as she explained the draft amendment to the assembly of the bimonthly session of the NPC Standing Committee.

The draft amendment stressed on the courts` duty to ensure citizens can take authorities to court and underlined the need to accept cases involving governments as defendants.

Governments should neither intervene nor obstruct courts from filing and hearing such cases. Governmental defendants should respond to the suits according to law, the report said.

The amendment means more rights infringement cases should be accepted by the courts. People`s courts will now accept suits in which administrators have infringed citizen`s legal ownership or right to use over natural resources such as forests, pasture, mineral reserves, mountains and water.

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