By Cal Widdall
In a decision which appears to do nothing but highlight the wrongfulness of previous policies, the Supreme People’s Court ruled yesterday that courts can turn down government requests to demolish housing if the compensation for residents is deemed unfair. China Daily reports:
The latest judicial interpretation by the country’s top court, effective from Tuesday, supplements the existing regulation on urban home demolition, which was revised last year.
The interpretation specifies seven circumstances under which courts should reject government requests for forced relocation, including where the proposed compensation “violates the principle of fairness”, where land acquisition has “severely violated the procedures provided by law”, and where the basic living essentials of property owners are not ensured.
Owners of nail houses across the country shouldn’t be putting on their party hats just yet though, as previous legislation, including the Administrative Coercion Law, the country’s principal legislation regarding home demolition, have had little effect in the past.
Besides this, the interpretation seems to only protect those who are disputing the fairness of their compensation, not home-owners who simply do not wish to move.
Lastly, due to the inextricable links the Communist Party creates between areas of power, it’s unsure whether any courts would rule against local government anyway. Jiang Ming’an, a law professor with Peking University explains:
“The president of a local court is appointed by the local People’s Congress, and the local court is financially supported by the local government. In some cases, we have seen local courts that did not take any action against forced demolitions by local governments.”
So, all in all, a nice headline for the government, but how much things will change remains to be seen.