Apparently influenced by positive impact made by India’s Right to Information Act (RTI), China has tightened laws to secure information within the gambit of its one party system, granting citizens right to sue government agencies for failing to disclose information.
From now on Chinese citizens can lodge administrative lawsuits against government organs if they fail to disclose information, according to the latest judicial interpretations by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).
The country’s apex court, SPC, recently issued a set of 13-article interpretations to direct the trial of administrative cases concerning government information disclosure, which have soared over the years, official media reported.According to the interpretations, lawsuits can be filed if administrative organs refuse to provide information or give no response within a set period or the information provided by administrative organs is believed to be not complying with the requests prescribed by laws and regulations, official media here said.
In case the information publicised by administration organs actively or upon others’ request is believed to have infringed upon others’ commercial secrets or individuals’ privacy, the organs can also be sued.
The government organs can also be sued for not providing accurate information or giving no reply within a set period to requests for correction, or failing to forward the case to responsible organs for handling, the new rules said.
China which continues to be a one party state ruled by Communist Party of China, (CPC) regarded as the most secretive with its officials backed up by tightly controlled state media taking umbrage under the no or loosely defined legal procedures.
Though government had brought about regulations on government information disclosure in May, 2008, the fact is that obtaining information from official agencies remains a major challenge for citizens, state run ‘China Daily’ said in its editorial titled “a push for transparency”.
Though rules stipulate that government offices have an obligation to publish all information regarding their operations with exception of properly defined “secrets”, few have honoured that obligation, it said.
“Even those that have reluctantly done so have shilly-shallied about what people are truly concerned”, it said.