Illegal fines and penalties targeted
By VIVIEN PIK-KWAN CHAN
The NPC is to approve an Administrative Punishment Law to prevent officials from collecting illegal fines and detaining people unlawfully.
Current regulations have not laid down clearly which government units have the power to impose administrative punishment in cases where offences are not deemed serious enough to warrant criminal punishment.
Many government departments were found to have collected fines and meted out punishment at their own discretion.
The draft law consists of six chapters.
The most important sections concern guidelines and the constraints on their application.
Under Chinese law, administrative punishments are divided into various types including administrative detention, revocation of operating licences, collection of fines, confiscation of illegal property and the issue of warning orders.
The draft law explicitly states that only those departments empowered by the State Council and the law have the power to enforce administrative punishments and the degree of these punishments should be in line with existing legislation.
The principle also applies to punishments carried out by local governments.
To avoid duplicated punishments, only administrative departments responsible for the place where misconduct occurred are empowered to enforce the punishment.
In addition, the draft law sets out procedures to ensure officials do not keep for themselves fines they collect.
In most cases, fines should be paid to the Government through a designated bank account within 15 days after the punishment is determined by authorities.
The draft law grants litigants the right to appeal if they are not satisfied with their punishments.
In cases such as traffic offences, officials may collect fines at the scene, but must provide receipts to the offender and pass the fine to the Government within 15 days of collection.
Penalties are also set out for officials who set up roadblocks illegally or who are caught forging receipts to offenders.