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New move to protect Chinese citizens' rights to file administrative lawsuits

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-14 20:29
BEIJING  -- China's Supreme People's Court (SPC) Thursday announced new measures to better protect citizens' rights to institute litigation against the government.

Courts were banned from using excuses, such as the cases being too complicated or a need for balancing interests among different government departments to reject administrative cases filed by citizens, according to a circular issued by the top court.

Courts shall not illegally list the plaintiff's base for filing the litigation being sufficient, the facts clear or the evidence irrefutable as conditions to accept a case, it read.

The response on whether a court accepts a case must be given within seven days.

China practices case-filing registration and has extended the time limit for the prosecution of such cases to six months.

If a filed case risks exceeding the time limit, courts should conduct an urgent examination, according to the circular. For plaintiffs who fail to observe the time limit due to unforeseeable circumstances or other reasons not attributable to themselves, the courts should not reject their cases on account of the time limit expiring, it added.

Meanwhile, the SPC ordered strict scrutiny of the abuse of litigation rights, saying such behaviors should be restrained.

China has intensified efforts to ensure public rights and interests in administrative litigation in recent years.

A revised Administrative Procedure Law took effect on May 1, 2015. The legislation, first promulgated in 1990, guarantees citizens' rights to pursue the government through the courts.

The revision compels defendants -- representatives of the administrations concerned -- to personally appear at court. Those who refuse to appear without legitimate reasons or who leave court during the trial without approval may face additional punishment.

According to the SPC's annual report, Chinese courts at all levels concluded 225,000 administrative cases of first instance in 2016, up 13.2 percent year on year.

The SPC has also set up six circuit courts to deal with cross-region administrative and other cases. In certain regions, courts are designated to deal administrative cases to improve efficiency.
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