China's courts Tuesday introduced a new disciplinary measure under which leading judges are advised to resign in cases of malpractice.
The malpractice subject to the new measure includes serious misuse of the law which incurs huge losses and bad influence, failure to report or investigate cases of law infringement within the courts and major accidents caused by the lack of proper administration.
"These are all related to the failure of court presidents or vice-presidents in carrying out their duties fully and correctly,'' said Liu Jiachen, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court at a press conference unveiling the new regulation. "They should therefore resign.''
In cases of malpractice where court leaders fail to resign, the regulation empowers the courts on a higher level to propose to the people's congresses or their standing committees to remove the offenders from their posts.
Presidents of courts are elected and removed by the people's congresses on their corresponding levels under Chinese laws. The hiring of other judges also need approvals from the standing committee of the people's congresses.
Judges' performance has been a concern of the public in recent years, particularly in 1998 when a nationwide campaign was launched to root out court corruption.
Tuesday's measure represented a development on the March idea put forward by Xiao Yang, president of the Supreme People's Court. Xiao pledged at the plenary session of the National People's Congress the comprehensive implementation of the measure this year and said he will work to weed out the "black sheep'' in judicial ranks.
"The public's confidence in the judicial branch as well as their respect for judicial authority hinge on the performance of the judicial officials,'' said Liu. "We have already put high on agenda the strengthening of the contingent of judges as an effort to re-establish judicial authority.''
Sources with the Supreme People's Court Tuesday said that they will continue to work out detailed explanations for the regulation.
The new regulation is the latest in a series of the court's efforts to improve its work.
Statistics from the Supreme People's Court indicate that last year more than 1,200 judges in China were disciplined for misusing judicial power for personal gain, in addition to another 46 who were prosecuted for malpractice and illegal law enforcement.
(China Daily November 7, 2001)