Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

No exceptions to the rule of law

By Jiang Ping (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-20 09:07

Discussions at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, scheduled from Monday to Thursday in Beijing, will focus on how to strengthen the rule of law in the country. That the rule of law will top the agenda of a CPC Central Committee plenary session for the first time reflects the importance the country’s new leadership attaches to the subject.

There is close link among China’s efforts to promote political institutional reform, rule of law and judicial reform, because the rule of law is an important aspect of political institutional reform while judicial reform plays a crucial role in promoting the rule of law. China has embarked on a long road to judicial reform, and it has experienced success and setbacks both on the way.

No exceptions to the rule of law

Fourth Plenary Session of 18th CPC Central Committee 

At a recent gathering to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the National People’s Congress, top leader Xi Jinping emphasized that the country should first promote constitutional governance to strengthen the rule of law. Xi’s remark opens the path to the establishment of the rule of law, given that the country’s governance is based on the Constitution.

As a key step toward the rule of law, all forms of judicial reform should first emphasize the supremacy of the Constitution. This is the only way to remove the obstacles in the path of judicial reform. Judicial power belongs to courts, and courts should adhere to the Constitution and laws while passing verdicts. The Constitution’s supremacy is also reflected in the enforcement of the sanctions of the communiqué issued by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee on constitutional violations.

The judicial reform should also emphasize the exercise of independent judicial and procuratorial powers and the push for judicial fairness. The Third Plenary Session made it clear that the country’s judicial management system should be reformed to ensure that judicial and procuratorial organs exercise their powers in an independent manner.

From a practical point of view, local interventions are the main obstacles to judicial reform. For example, local courts cannot independently exercise their judicial powers because they are subject to local Party committees and governments. Without independent judicial and financial powers, local courts cannot function independently. Therefore, changing the status quo is an important part of the efforts to establish judicial independence.

To ensure that judicial and procuratorial powers are independently and fairly exercised, there is need to set up a judicial jurisdiction mechanism independent of the existing administrative division system. The setting up of a sound judicial system will directly decide whether or not a country’s judiciary is independent and its functions are scientific.

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