Courts get more say in demolitions

Updated: 2012-04-09 19:46

By Zhao Yinan (

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Courts can turn down governments' requests to demolish urban homes if the proposed compensation being offered to the owners is not "fair", the top court ruled in its latest judicial interpretation on Monday, adding another layer of protection for property owners.

Monday's interpretation, a supplement to the current regulation on urban home demolition, which was revised last year, specified the conditions under which governments' requests for forced relocations should be rejected by the courts.

The interpretation specified seven circumstances in which that should happen, such as when the compensation offered "violates the principle of fairness", when land acquisition has "severely violated the procedures provided by law", or when the basic livelihoods of property owners are not protected.

In an attempt at separating judicial approvals from law enforcement, the interpretation also said demolitions should "normally be carried out by administrative bodies", according to a statement released by the top court.

"Whether administrative bodies or courts are responsible for undertaking forced demolitions is exactly the issue that is being left out in current stipulations and needs an urgent answer," said Wang Xixin, a legal professor at Peking University.

Wang said separating decision makers from executive bodies will better protect property owners' interests than would letting the courts be the decision maker as well as the agency that knocks down houses. It "adds another layer of protection" before relocations can get underway.

"If you let the government play the roles of decision makers and executives at the same time, misjudgments and violent demolitions can hardly be avoided," he said.

The interpretation will take effect on Tuesday.