Courts ordered to report interfering officials

Updated: 2015-08-20 07:42

By Cao Yin(China Daily)

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Chinese courts have been told to record, report and blame officials who interfere in cases or with judicial work, under a new guideline issued by the country's top court on Wednesday.

The guideline orders all courts to tackle cases independently, to keep verdicts away from external interference, and to refuse to carry out illegal instructions from any institution or individual, according to the Supreme People's Court.

The officials mentioned in the guideline include those working for Party, legislative, administrative, military and procuratorial departments, and leading officers at State-owned enterprises and social organizations, as well as retired officials.

If the officials, their relatives or colleagues want to give opinions on a case or interfere in judicial actions by a court, the court must keep all material related to the case and make a record for permanent storage and review under the guideline, which takes effect on Thursday.

Every court must also set up a database to log inquiries from officials or external staff members. Their names or titles should be clearly written down along with their place of employment when they give advice for a case. Their opinions should also be recorded.

Courts should also make a record of ways in which people advise or comment on the judicial work for a case, such as via e-mail, micro blogs, text messages and by WeChat.

When advice or comments are spoken, court officials must note where the discussion has taken place and ask all personnel there to sign confirmation about the discussions.

Courts ordered to report interfering officials

Under the guideline, grassroots courts should update their databases covering external staff members and analyze inquiries related to these employees every three months before making a report to higher courts.

If courts find officials are suspected to have interfered in judgments or with judicial work, which may result in wrongful verdicts, they must report this to the top court.

It is the first time that the Supreme People's Court has brought in specific rules to regulate ways of recording and reporting those who interfere in cases, said Cheng Lei, an associate law professor at Renmin University of China.

Cheng praised the guideline, saying it will help to avoid cases being "disturbed" by local governments or those wanting to use money to solve disputes.

"It will also enforce judicial reforms put forward by the leadership in 2013, ensuring courts' judgments are fair," he said.

But Cheng said penalties under the guideline are still limited, as judicial officials will merely be criticized or given disciplinary punishment by a court if they refuse to comply with the guideline.

The guideline only says that those who interfere externally will be blamed, but does not clarify specific punishments, he said.